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The Art of Mudras – How Hands Speak Yoga

What is a Mudra?

Mudra is a Sanskrit word that means “seal,” “gesture,” or “mark.” Mudras are symbolic gestures using hands and fingers that are practiced in yoga and meditation. Known for affecting energy flow in the subtle body, you can enhance your yogic experience using Mudras, via a deeper meditation, soothing ailments or prompting you into taking action that will heal elements of your life.

Although it sounds far off, the hands are seen as a real gateway for the energy that passes in an out of your body and used correctly and with intention, Mudras can totally change the way you focus during your yoga practice.

5 Key Mudras

Anjali Mudra

Probably the most recognisable mudra, no doubt you have placed your hands into prayer in front of your heart centre at the end of a yoga class and said “Namaste”. This mudra is generally known as Anjali Mudra (from anj, “to honor, celebrate”) and is a gesture of reverence, benediction, salutation and is the Reverence to the Heart Seal.

Regularly bringing your hands into this mudra will help to reduce stress and anxiety, by it’s instant calming effect on the brain. Physically, it will improve flexibility in the hands, finders, wrists and arms, whilst mentally, it’s a beautiful gesture to open your heart, promoting both self respect to you and others. Learn more about Anjali Mudra

Chin or Jnana Mudra

Also known as Conscientious Seal, Jnana is Sanskrit for knowledge. In this context, it refers to enlightened wisdom that enables us to distinguish between the right and the wrong.

This mudra joins us to our ‘higher self’, helping to lift away stagnant energy, creating a more receptive state. The path we hope to choose is truth, and with the practice of Jnana Mudra, the index finger represents individual consciousness that has a limited perspective of self. The thumb represents universal consciousness and is considered to be the expanded perspective of Self. When the two touch, the limited self is connected to the spacious Universal Self.

Simply, rest your hands on top of your thighs with your palms facing upwards. Tuck the tip of the index finger under the tip of the thumb, keeping the remaining three fingers extended.

Kali Mudra

Kali is the Hindu goddess of fearlessness, inner strength, and empowerment and along with Durga, is a  manifestation of the goddess Mahadevi. The index fingers represent the sword of Durga, who slays illusions and ignorance. Kali mudra encourages positivity in the body, while clearing blockages.

Bring your hands together with your fingers interlaced and extend your index fingers. This mudra is believed to empower you to stand in your truth, develop courage and inner strength. Kali Mudra is practiced in all styles of yoga from Yin Yoga to build energy, Restorative Yoga for healing anxiety, depression and insomnia, and Vinyasa Flow Yoga for cultivating strength.

 

Lotus Seal (Padma Mudra)

Lotus seal is the eternal symbol of transformation as the flower rises out of the mud without a drop of mud on it. This hand gesture represents the purity and perseverance of the lotus flower floating above the muddy waters of desire, fear, and attachment. This hand gesture calms the mind and generates understanding and connection. It is said to remind you of the natural beauty of your soul and cultivates love and joy.

Bring your hands into Anjali Mudra at your hearts centre. Lengthen your fingers into a lotus flower by keeping the base of the hands together, with your thumbs and little fingers touching and unfurl the index, middle, and ring fingers to open up like a blossoming lotus flower.

 

Dhyana Mudra

This meditation mudra is sometimes referred to as Yoga Mudra. The Buddha is often pictured doing this hand gesture. Simply, form a bowl shape with the hands, right on top of the left and touch the thumbs together and place the hands on the lap. The right hand, representing enlightenment and higher spiritual faculties, rests over the left hand, representing the world of maya, or illusion.

This hand gesture is another mudra that balances the right (male) and left (female) sides of the body. This brings unites the right and left hemispheres (the intellectual and creative sides). The mudra uses all the fingers and this is believed to have a balancing effect on the five elements. This harmony calms the mind and helps concentration and meditation. The mudra is also said to assist the body to heal.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed our brief journey of exploration around some of the more commonly used Mudras. There are many other hand mudras that exist and are awaiting discovery. Why not utilise a mudra or two into your asana, pranayama and meditation practice?

Or even better, attend a class at Mary Ann Weeks Aveda Guildford Studio to learn more about the beautiful path and practice of Yoga.

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