We discuss five energizing yoga mudras for beginners and how to use them to deepen your meditation and pranayama practice.
Yoga mudras refer to the symbolic hand gestures formed using the thumb, fingers, and palm. This beginner-friendly technique is derived from an Ayurvedic understanding of the five elements and how they are represented in our hands and fingers.
A mudra, at heart, is a seal that has a distinct corresponding effect on our body if held for 10 minutes or longer. They are a supplementary practice in pranayama, yoga, and meditation. The benefits of yoga mudras, in general, can be summarized as:
Mudras strengthen the mind-body connection.
They elevate consciousness.
They improve the flow of energy through the body.
There are dozens of hand mudras one could use for spiritual practice. Each has its own purpose and benefits. In this post, we have listed five simple but powerful mudras to heighten your awareness and enhance your breath regulation.
1. Chin Mudra For Focus and Reception
Chin Mudra is the most iconic and recognizable of all hand gestures. It is widely used in meditation by Tibetans, Taoists, Hindus, and Buddhists. You have probably seen it in the paintings, statues, or photographs of yogis.
The index finger represents the individual self and consciousness. The thumb represents the Universal self or consciousness. Bringing the two together is symbolic of dissolving the individual consciousness into the universal consciousness.
How to do Chin Mudra?
Sit in any meditative posture with your hands on your knees or thighs. With the palms facing upward, touch the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb. Don't apply too much pressure. Touch the tips gently. This hand configuration is the yogic hand gesture called Chin Mudra.
The Chin mudra helps you attune to a receptive state. It eradicates dullness and hones intuition and insight. It is the best yoga mudra to enter deeper states of calm and relaxation. Other benefits of Chin Mudra include:
It increases connection to the inner and outer worlds
It reduces feelings of mental instability such as stress and anxiety
It induces a deeper knowledge of the realities of the universe
In Chin mudra, the palms are facing upwards, towards the sky. The same yoga mudra becomes Jnana or Gyan Mudra when the palms face downward. New practitioners should use the Jnana mudra. Experienced practitioners should use Chin mudra to deepen their practice.
2. Anjali Mudra For Equilibrium and Gratitude
Anjali mudra is another name for the customary Indian greeting called “Namaste”. Anjali, which translates to “an offering”, is a salutation commonly used to greet people. This yoga mudra is also used at the start of a spiritual practice. It promotes a feeling of appreciation and gratitude.
It is used in various base poses and variations of yoga asana like Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and Vrksasana (Tree Pose). All pranayama practitioners should begin their practice with this coupling of hands. It is the perfect yoga mudra to show gratitude.
How to do Anjali Mudra?
To form this yoga mudra, place your hands in front of your heart. Bring your palms together and press them lightly against each other. The fingers should be pointing to the sky. If you are in a meditative asana, you may feel your spine extend upwards as you hold his yoga mudra.
This yoga mudra is a seal of composure located right over the heart chakra (Anahata). It connects the left and right hemispheres of our brain to invoke a feeling of unification and veneration. Other benefits of Anjali Mudra include:
It invigorates the heart chakra.
It invokes feelings of gratitude, love, and kindness.
It improves the connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
It promotes focus, spiritual clarity, and wisdom
3. Prana Mudra For Balanced Energy-flow
Prana Mudra is also known as the Life-Energy Gesture. Prana is the vital breath or the life energy that enters the body and stays within us as long as we live. It's the foundation of pranayama and a critical aspect of yoga.
Prana Mudra is a yogic gesture to promote the flow of prana (energy) throughout the body. It kindles the earth, water, and fire elements, which are known to play a vital role in physical, mental, and spiritual processes.
How to do Prana Mudra?
To form Prana Mudra, curl your ring finger and little/pinky finger and bring them forward. Let their tips lightly touch the tip of your thumb. Maintain this gentle connection without too much pressure. Keep the other two fingers (index and middle finger) outstretched as much as you can without causing any strain in the hand.
If you are familiar with Ayurveda, please note that Prana Mudra reduces pitta but is contraindicated in Kapha dosha. People with Kapha constitution should avoid this mudra.
It is an easy yoga mudra for beginners to use during pranayama. Regular practice creates inner stability and boosts immunity. Prana mudra also improves metabolism, blood circulation, and self-confidence. It is helpful to counter fatigue and it stimulates the 7 Chakras in the body. Other benefits of Prana Mudra include:
Improves circulation and eyesight
Positively influences the mind
Relieves fatigue, anxiety, and improves your self-image
Improves focus, self-confidence, and emotional stability
Reduces symptoms of vitamin deficiencies
4. Apana Mudra to Enhance Downward Flowing Energy
In Ayurveda, Apana is a sub-type of vata (air) situated in the lower half of the body. The Apana mudra, called the Purification Mudra, is used to improve Apana flow in the body, which is responsible for the elimination of waste.
It is often called the ‘digestion mudra’ or ‘purification mudra’. Like all mudras, it helps to control and increase the flow of Prana through the body, but this one is specifically meant to ease blockages and help with elimination such as urination, menstruation, and bowel movement.
How to do Apana Mudra?
Touch the ends of your middle and ring fingers to your thumb. Maintain a light connection without too much pressure. Keep your other two fingers straight but relaxed. Form mudra on both hands and hold for 10 to 20 minutes. Some of the benefits of Apana Mudra include:
Balances the lower functions of digestion and reproduction
Moves Apana Vayu downwards and clears constipation
Provides relief in constipation and corrects gut imbalances
Helpful for irregular menstruation and pains associated with childbirth
Alleviates symptoms of urinary problems and infections
5. Buddhi Mudra for Mental Clarity
Buddhi is the Sanskrit word for the "higher mind". That's exactly what this hand gesture stimulates. This yoga mudra is often called the seal of mental clarity. Beginners can use Buddhi Mudra for enhanced clarity of their thoughts during meditation.
Your pinky finger represents water and communication, while the thumb represents the inner fire. Doing this mudra for 15 to 20 minutes promotes fluid communication of the biological mechanisms. It also gives you access to inner knowledge (innate wisdom). That's why yogis say that regular use of this mudra will develop intuition and psychic abilities.
How to form the Buddhi Mudra?
Sit in a cross-legged asana with you hands on the thighs and palms facing the sky. Bring the tip of the pinky finger to touch the tip of the thumb. Maintain a light connection without too much pressure. Keep the remaining fingers comfortably extended. This arrangement of the hand is the yogic hand gesture called Buddhi Mudra.
Buddhi Mudra specifically targets the water element because the pinky finger represents water. For that reason, its alternative name is Jal-vardhak mudra, which roughly translates to ‘water enhancement’. Other benefits of this mudra include:
Enhances communication with the inner fire and divine nature
Increases intuition and concentration
Alleviates the symptoms of health issues related to water imbalance such as indigestion, skin disorders, anemia, and bladder or kidney ailment
Mudras are the next logical step for those who want to supplement their pranayama practice. They can function like an "add-on" that increases the efficiency of your daily practice. You don’t need to dive into the esoteric texts to begin using them.
Recommended Reading (links):
Mudras of India by Cain Caroll (Editor's Choice)