What is a Mudra?
When you go to a yoga class you might hear the teacher mention Mudras. This can seem a strange concept if you are relatively new to yoga and you might feel a little unsure of what to use and when. Understanding more about Mudras and the most commonly used ones can set your mind at rest and help you get the best from the class.
More About Mudras
In Sanskrit, the word Mudra means ‘closure’ or ‘seal’. Mudras use the hands to create a flow of energy in the body, especially when meditating or during breathing sequences. There is a connection from areas of the hands to corresponding regions of the body, so using a specific placement of hands creates the Mudra. When we make these gestures, we are stimulating areas of the brain which generates an energy circuit in the body. This, in turn, helps to put the mind into the right state for our yogic work.
Five Fingers Meet Five Elements
As we know, there are five elements in the universe, and everything is made up up these. The fingers represent these elements as follows:
Thumb – Fire
Index Finger – Air
Middle Finger – Ether/Space
Ring Finger – Earth
Little Finger – Water
The Most Common Mudras
These are some of the most commonly used Mudras, so you might come across these in classes and understanding them better will help you feel more relaxed when using them on the mat in front of other students.
When the thumb and index finger touch to form a circle, this is called Gyana Mudra. The alternative name is Chin Mudra. It is essential the three other fingers are touching and extended. The purpose of this Mudra is to aid concentration and enhance creativity. If performed with the hand facing upwards you are in a receptive state of mind, if the palm is placed on the leg you wish to have a more grounded state.
Hands in prayer. When the hands are placed flat and palms together and held in front of the body, this is a gesture of respect, to the universe and yourself. This Mudra also speaks of honour, love and gratitude and will often be used as a greeting and accompanied by the word Namaste.
When the thumb is used to touch the little finger, this is Buddhi Mudra. The purpose is to stimulate initiative communication. This Mudra can help with your own intuitive knowledge and generate feelings of openness and open channels of communication.
Resting your hands in your lap, you allow your upturned right hand to rest in the open upturned palm of your left hand, somewhat like a basket. Bring the thumbs to touch at the tips, and you have Dhyana Mudra. This gentle gesture creates an open and receptive state of meditation and is a calming and soothing energy for the body. It is an excellent place to rest your hands if you are looking to find answers while in quiet contemplation as it signifies and openness to receive.