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Your Guide to Using Yoga Mudras

About Yoga Mudras

The power of touch and the shape of the mudra inherently contain profound shifts of being—a shift toward listening when there is static. A spark to awaken the dim flame to rise up. 

—Shiva Rea

Yoga Mudras are symbolic gestures, movements, and pranayamas/breathwork.

Mudras are performed to invoke a specific mood (Bhav), express ritual, and move the Prana (energy) throughout the body. 

Typically done with the hands and fingers, mudras may also be full-body movements and engage a more meditative mindset by focusing the breath. 

Mudras may be done while performing mantras, moving meditations, kriyas, and vinyasa classes to expand the awareness and energetic field of the body. 

Keep reading to learn why we do yoga mudras, the benefits of specific mudras, and fourteen mudras featured in classes on Practice with Clara Virtual Yoga Studio. 

 

Why Use Yoga Mudras? 

A mudra can be used as a ceremonial symbol and clear energy pathways.

When the pathways are clear, we have more energy and clarity. In yoga, we call the energetic channels Nadis. The Nadis of the body carry the Prana (life force, vitality). 

Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism feature the use of mudras through symbolic iconography.

Yoga and meditation include mudras to move the Prana and generate a specific sensation or outcome. Anjali mudra is one of the more common gestures practiced in yoga and meditation. It involves bringing the palms to prayer at the center of the heart space.

Anjali means ‘to offer’ and symbolizes the merger of the right and left hemispheres.

It is the convergence of the poles and is performed to honor where we are, in the present moment, as a salute. With palms pressed together, and fingertips pointing upwards, Anjali mudra is often performed at the beginning or end of a yoga class. 

Your Guide to

Yoga Mudras

Jnana Mudra

Jnana translates as ‘wisdom’ or ‘intelligence.’ This mudra is used to improve clarity and concentration.

Bring your index finger and thumb together to create a circle to do this mudra. Extend the other three fingers away from the palm. 

The hand is facing downward in Jnana Mudra. 

Use this mudra in meditation or your movement/mantra practices to cultivate awareness and harness your focus. 

Anjali Mudra

Anjali mudra is a common mudra often performed at the start and end of each yoga class.

Anjali translates as ‘offering’ from Sanskrit. It is a gesture to return to the compassionate self, greet the divine, and listen to the inner teacher. 

It is an invocation to connect the head and the heart, align the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and yolk the poles within and without – the feminine and masculine aspects of our being and universe. 

Reverse Prayer

Pashchima Namaskarasana

This mudra connects the hands to the back of the heart. It may be used in the yoga practice to open the shoulders and chest. 

Svastika Mudra

aka, Auspicious Mudra for the Heart

This is another way to connect to the power and wisdom of the heart with the palms pressed over the center of the chest. 

Similar to Anjali Mudra, only this mudra invites more intimacy and reverence with the hands pressed to the chest.

Feel your heart beat as you breathe.

Surya Mudra

Also known as the Agni Mudra, this hand gesture connects us to our life force energy. 

Agni translates as ‘fire,’ and Surya translates as ‘sun.’ 

This mudra activates the fire element and brings heat, vitality, and strength through the body. 

Bring your ring finger and thumb together at the center of your palm to do this mudra. Extend the other three fingers. 

Benefits of this mudra include activating the thyroid gland at the throat. This gland regulates metabolism, and growth, and aids the function of the heart, muscles, digestive function, and brain development. 

Bhumi Mudra

Also called Bhumisparsh Mudra, this gesture involves the right hand touching the earth and the left at the heart or lap. 

Bhumisparsh translates as ‘earth touching’ and expresses a reverence for the earth and all its living inhabitants. 

With all five fingers of the right hand rooted in the earth, this gesture is symbolic of the Buddha’s moment of enlightenment from where he sat under the Bodhi Tree. 

Varada Mudra

This mudra involves having the palm or palms open with the fingers pointed downward. 

It is a gesture of sincerity, compassion, and charity. It is an invitation of blessings unto you and all those around you. 

This mudra is also known as the Mudra of Mercy, as it is an invocation to the deities to bless us and fulfill our wishes. 

Benefits include a development of a benevolent and compassionate mindset. 

Chin Mudra

Similar to Jnana Mudra, Chin Mudra involves the connection of the index finger and thumb with the other three fingers extended. 

The difference is in the placement of the palm; Chin Mudra the palm is facing upward.

Chin translates as consciousness. This mudra is also used as an invocation to Saraswati, the Goddess of Creation, Wisdom, and Languages. 

This gesture draws the individual towards Saraswati to break stagnant energy and shift energetic patterns to spark creativity and intuition.

To Perform Chin Mudra;
  1. Take a comfortable seat and rest the back of your palms on your thighs.
  2. Spread your palms upward and take the tip of the index finger to your thumb.
  3. Extend the other three fingers away from the center of the palm gently. 
  4. Press the tip of the finger to the thumb in a relaxed gesture. 
  5. Rest with ease in this pose, and breathe deeply into your body. 

Shiva Lingam Mudra

This mudra invokes the masculine and feminine energies of Shiva and Shakti. 

It is performed to encourage a state of grounding through the earth element. 

The thumb on the fist represents the lingam, Shiva, and masculine energy.

The palm supporting the fist represents the earth and feminine energy of Shakti.

In this mudra, the Shakti energy is incarnate as Parvati, the Goddess of the Mountains and Shiva’s domestic consort. 

Benefits of this mudra include the balance of energies, solar and lunar, through the focus on the masculine and feminine forces within. 

Lotus Mudra

aka, Hridaya Padma

A mudra to express and engage Lakshmi, the Goddess of Abundance and Beauty, lotus mudra opens the heart center. 

This gesture encourages flow, vitality, and fertility. It is used to invite beauty and blessings into your life.

Bring the pinky fingers and thumbs together to touch to do this mudra. The inner fingers spread and blossom outwards like a flower. 

Benefits of this mudra include a relaxed state of mind, attention to the abundance within and all around you, and gratitude. 

Abhaya Hridaya Mudra

Durga’s mudra is known as Abhaya Hridaya, courageous heart.’

It captures the compassion and fierce energy of Durga Maa.

It is a gesture that empowers the individual to take action and draws upon the resilience and determination of Durga.

It may be used to connect you to your heart’s truth, eliminate fear, and incite courage.

How to perform Abhaya Hridaya:
  1. Cross your wrists so the back of your hands touch.
  2. Link your pinky fingers together and keep your ring fingers outstretched. 
  3. Link your middle and index fingers.
  4. Bring your ring fingers to the tip of each thumb.
  5. Bend your elbows to either side and bring the gesture to the heart space. 
  6. Bow your chin to your chest. 

Venus Mudra

A powerful mudra from Kundalini Yoga, Venus Lock is used to balance the masculine and feminine energies. 

How to perform Venus Mudra:

  1. Bring the palms together in a prayer and interlace the fingers.
  2. Extend the index fingers toward the sky.
  3. Bring the thumbs together side-by-side and extend them upward.
  4. Draw the arms overhead.
  5. Tighten the forearms to the temples. 

To balance/work with feminine energy: hook the left thumb over the right thumb.

To balance/work with masculine energy: hook the right thumb over the left thumb. 

 

Prostration Mudra

This is a devotional mudra that involves the whole body. 

To perform Prostration, come to lay on your belly with your arms extended. Turn the palms upward. Press the forehead or chin to the ground. 

This mudra is an offering to something much greater than ourselves: the divine, total consciousness, or inner teacher. 

It is an act of surrender, softening, and accepting what is. 

Hasta Mudra

A symbol of receptivity, this mudra is a gesture to open to receive what goes on within and all around you. 

Hasta Mudra is a way to energize the heart center, empty yourself of all preconceived ideals, and listen to what your body needs. 

To perform Hasta Mudra, come to sit or stand. Hold your arms out with the elbows bent at the waist. Open the palms and spread the fingers and thumbs. 

The invocation is to listen to what the universe or inner teacher has to say. 

Benefits of this mudra include a heightened receptivity and sensitivity to what goes on inside and around you. 

Dhyana Mudra 1

A mudra invites a spaciousness within; this gesture is used to improve concentration and reflection. 

Dhyana translates as ‘meditation’ from Sanskrit. This mudra is an invitation to go into the subtle body to listen to the inner teacher. 

In one variation, the palms are stacked with the thumbs touching and held upright. 

Dhyana Mudra 2

In another variation, the palms are stacked with the thumbs touching resting closer toward the fingertips. 

This mudra is helpful to those who are looking to cultivate a meditation practice. It is a gesture to go inwards and be still. 

 

Mudra vinyasas are mudras (sacred gestures) that move with the flow of breath as well as mantra…. As you move, the transmission of wisdom that you often need arises through the inherent quality of the movement…. This is a way of dropping into a nonverbal knowing where we can listen to the hearts wisdom.

—Shiva Rea

10 Classes to Embrace Yoga Mudras

Try one of these classes on Practice with Clara Virtual Yoga Studio.

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