Full Inexperienced persons Information to Yoga Mudras
Image source: Fitsri
Our hands contain the maximum number of nadis, which when pressed or arranged in a certain way create a “circuit of energy” to redirect the flow of prana (life force) in the body.
Practicing yoga mudras involves the conscious effort to create the energy circles in our body through subtle physical actions of the hands known as "gestures", "seals" or "signs".
A 1400 BC Chr. Tantric text kularnava Tantra traces the word "Mudra". Accordingly, mudra is derived from two Sanskrit words: "mud" means "bliss" and "drava" is called to the liquid, here it means "to produce" (a quality of the liquid). This can be understood to mean that mudra is the practice "which pleases the SELF and melts the mind so that the hidden bliss within the seeker can be brought out."
What is mudra in yoga?
A mudra is the gesture or the energy seal of a certain body position that shows a state of consciousness of our subtle body. In yoga, mudras can be hand gestures (hasta mudra) or gestures of the head (mana mudra) or of the whole body (kaya mudra), as in the yoga poses.
Mudras are the same as any other physical expression of laughing, crying, dancing, or singing. The way physical expressions are the outward manifestation of how we feel or what we do, mudras express subtle body feelings in the same way. When a mudra is performed, its gesture evokes these emotions and connects us with our true nature.
Practicing a yoga mudra may sound strange to you at first, but unconsciously we are all used to the various gestures in our daily life. When we are sad, or in deep thought, or in joy, these gestures come out automatically. In fact, many of the gestures that we use in non-verbal communication are already part of mudras in yoga.
For example, Namaste is a common hand gesture used to say hello or greet. In mudras practice it is called Anjali Mudra.
In yoga, mudras are especially used for their therapeutic use, but in traditions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, various mudras can be viewed as part of classical rituals, folk dances, or mantra chants. It shows that a mudra can contain many aspects of art and has an indescribable meaning.
What do mudras do in our body?
Image source: Canva
As mentioned earlier, a mudra can be understood by comparing it to non-verbal communication. This non-verbal communication connects your gross body with the subtle so that the energy that lies deep within you can be revealed! The subtle body energy is called elemental energy, which consists of five elements.
In fact, a mudra uses the energy in our hands that is present in the form of five elements.
When we regularly practice a mudra for a set amount of time, hands, fingers, or the whole body must be held in a certain position. This specific position of the mudra creates the pranic cycle in our subtle body. A pranic cycle can be understood as the closed cycle of nadis that promotes the flow of energy.
In yoga science, it is said, the body gets sickness when prana (life force) is stuck in one place or when there is a lack of prana in our body. The pranic cycle that a mudra makes makes prana undeniably flow in our body. And in order to prevent the lack of prana, the loop that mudra creates does not let prana drain out. In this way a mudra helps to keep the body diseases free, to increase the energy level and to increase the concentration.
Types of mudras
All mudras of yoga can be divided into 5 types. This categorization is based on the part of the body that we use in a particular mudra to channel the energy (hand, sensory organs, eyes such as tongue, eyes or ears, skeletal muscles or perineal muscles).
- Hasta Mudra (Hand gestures) – Performed with fingers and hands.
- Kaya Mudra (Postural gestures) – Involved the whole body.
- Mana mudra (Head gestures) – affected sensory organs (eyes, nose, tongue, lips and ears).
- Bandha Mudra (Lock gestures) – Performed with 3 bandhas, or more precisely subtle skeletal muscles (voice, airways and pelvis).
- Adhara Mudra (Perineal gestures) – Involves pelvic organs
The following infographics show 10 simple yoga mudras, their meanings and benefits. Click the picture to check out this infographic!
Below is a list of all types of mudras with their meanings and descriptions.
1. Hasta Mudras (Hand Mudras)
Image source: Shutterstock
Hand mudras are most commonly practiced among all types of mudras, especially in meditation and pranayama sessions. These mudras are based on the 5 element theory and are known for their therapeutic benefits.
|1.||Gyan mudra||Gesture of knowledge||Index finger tip touches thumb, hand turned up. Rest three fingers outstretched.||Improves memory and concentration. Gives a feeling of security and down-to-earth attitude|
|2.||Apana Mudra||Gesture by Apana||Middle and ring fingertips touch the thumb. Stretch out two fingers.||Helpful for diabetes and constipation. Strengthens the leg joints|
|3.||Prana Mudra||Life poetry||The ring and small fingertips touch the thumb. Stretch out two fingers.||Prevents hair loss and increases lung efficiency.|
|4th||Surya Mudra||Gesture of solar energy||Press the thumb on the second phalanx of the ring finger and the tip of the ring finger touches the base of the thumb. Rest three fingers outstretched.||Panacea mudra for weight loss, maintaining metabolism and lowering cholesterol.|
|5.||Varun mudra||Gesture of water||Press the thumb on the second phalanx of the little finger and the little fingertip touches the base of the thumb. Rest three fingers outstretched.||Helps with dehydration, cleanses the blood and makes the skin glow.|
|6th||Back mudra||Back pain relief gesture||Right hand – thumb touches middle and ring fingers
Left hand – thumb touches forefinger
|Relieves back pain and muscle cramps.|
|7th||Apana Vayu Mudra||Heart disease relief gesture||The thumb connects the middle and ring fingertips, while the index finger bends towards the base of the thumb.||Best mudra for heart problems, prevents heart attacks and improves digestion.|
|8th.||Shunya Mudra||Gesture of emptiness||Thumb presses second phalanx of middle finger. Rest three fingers outstretched||Treat ear problems, cure numbness and motion sickness.|
|9.||Rudra Mudra||Gesture of wild energy||Thumb touches the tip of the ring and forefinger. Stretch out two fingers.||Remedies for dizziness, lowers blood pressure and burns belly fat.|
|10.||Adi mudra||Primary gesture or first gesture||Thumb fold in the curled fingers.||Increase the flow of oxygen in the blood, gives mental clarity|
|11.||Linga Mudra||Attitude towards manhood||Both hands fingers folded and the left thumb is upright||Heals breathing disorders, prevents hypothermia|
|12.||Anjali Mudra||Gesture of salutation||Align both hands fingers in front of each other, tilt upwards||Balance between left and right hemisphere, improves focus.|
|14th||Akash Mudra||Space gesture||The thumb touches the tip of the middle finger. Rest three fingers outstretched.||Helpful for migraines, hearing loss and overcoming calcium deficiency.|
|15th||Padma Mudra||Lotus flower gesture||Little fingers and thumbs touch next to each other and then spread all fingers in a circular direction.||Brings creativity, calms the fearful mind and balances the heart chakra.|
|16.||Ganesha Mudra||Gesture from Lord Ganesha||Right hand back, left hand forward – lock fingers on the second phalanx from the inside.||Increase lung capacity, reduce neck pain, and boost self-confidence.|
|17th||Matangi Mudra||Gesture to evoke the power of the goddess Matangi||Cross both hand fingers and then point upwards with both middle fingers.||Inspire confidence, help with insomnia, and relax the jaw muscles.|
|18th||Dharmachakra Mudra||Buddha's gesture wheel of Dharma||Do gyan mudra with both hands. Now touch the right gyan mudra with the left middle finger tip outwards.||Deepen the meditation, give a basic sense and calm the mind.|
|19th||Brahma Mudra||Gesture of God Brahma or posture of God of creation||Fold your thumb in your curly fingers and press your fingers on your knuckles.||Thyroid secretion balance, useful for irregular menstrual cycles.|
|20th||Vajra Mudra||Gesture of fiery lightning||The middle, ring and little fingertips touch the thumb. Index finger stretched out.||Removes muscle stiffness, detoxifies the lungs.|
|21st||Surabhi Mudra||Cow gesture or wish fulfillment gesture||The ring fingertips of both hands touch the opposite little fingertips, and in the same way the middle fingertips touch the opposite index fingertips||Improves creativity and helps in fulfilling wishes.|
|22nd||Bhumisparsha Mudra||Buddha's gesture touching the earth||The left hand on the lap points up and the right hand points to the floor as it touches||Increase concentration, eliminate negativity and aggression.|
|23.||Shankh Mudra||Conch shell gesture||Circle the left thumb with 4 fingers of the right hand and then extend the left hand with 4 fingers and the right hand upwards.||Overcomes the fear of speaking, cleans the nadis and improves the function of the larynx (voice box).|
|24.||Hakini Mudra||Gesture of the goddess Hakini or the setting of the mind||Connect all the fingertips and thumbs of both hands together and spread the fingers wide.||Best mudra to increase brain power and to balance 3 doshas.|
|25th||Kubera Mudra||Gesture of the god of wealth||Connect the tips of your index and middle fingers with the tips of your thumbs. Then, curl the little one and ring the palm of your hand with your fingertips.||Gives happiness, confidence and calm. Opens stuffy nose and ear.|
|26th||Yoni mudra||Gesture of the womb||Connect all of your fingertips together, straighten your thumb upward, and then bend the middle, ring, and pinky finger so the back of the fingers touch each other.||Helps with fertility problems and eliminates all fatigue and stress when exercised at night before bed|
|27.||Jnana Mudra||Gesture of awareness||Touch the thumb and index finger tip, remaining finger extended.
For beginners – the index fingertip touches the root of the thumb.
|Improves concentration, the endocrine system and calms the mind.|
|28.||Vishnu Mudra||Gesture of the guardian god Vishnu||The index and middle fingers bend down towards the palm.||Reduce anger, clean nadis, and help with heart disease.|
|29||Vayu Mudra||Air element gesture||Thumb press second phalanx of the index finger||Overcome stomach problems and build immunity.|
|31.||Shakti Mudra||Gesture of strength||Circle the thumb in the index and middle fingers, touch the back, lift the ring and little fingertips – stretch upwards.||Helps with insomnia, eliminates the painful problem of urination and menstrual cramps|
|31.||Abhaya Mudra||Gesture of fearlessness||Raise your right hand to chest level and open your palm forward.||Helps in overcoming fear and calming emotions.|
|34.||Dhyana Mudra||Gesture of meditation||Place your right hand over your left hand so your fingers line up with each other. Now touch both thumb tips.||Deepen the levels of meditation and activate the left and right sides of the brain.|
|35.||Chinmaya Mudra||Gesture of awareness||Curl the middle, ring and pinky finger on the palm of your hand and touch the tip of your index finger with your thumb.||Prevents memory loss and cures insomnia.|
|36.||Prithvi Mudra||Gesture of the earth element||Ring fingertip touches thumb. Rest three fingers outstretched.||Weight gain and healing of body tissues.|
|37.||Karana Mudra||Buddha's gesture to cast out negativity||The tip of the middle finger touches the thumb, the ring finger curls parallel to the middle and the two fingers are stretched out.||Fill the mind with positivity, drive energy forces inward.|
|38.||Bhramara Mudra||Gesture of the buzzing bee||The index finger curves to the base of the thumb, touches the thumb outside of the middle finger and places two extended fingers down.||Beneficial for getting rid of allergies and treating colds, runny nose, and tonsillitis.|
|39.||Pushan Mudra||Gesture of nutrition or digestion||Right hand – touch the tip of your index and middle finger to the tip of your thumb.
Left hand – touch the ring and middle finger tip to the tip of the thumb. Stretch out two fingers.
|Best mudra for digestion, remove blockages and toxins. Also cures nausea, gas, constipation.|
|40.||Mushti mudra||Fist gesture of anger management||Hold your hand in a fist with your thumb over your ring finger.||Relieve negative emotions and lower blood pressure.|
|41.||Garuda Mudra||Eagle gesture||Hold your thumbs. Place your right hand on the tip of your left hand.||To instill fearlessness and be useful in getting rid of lethargy and fatigue|
|42.||Vitraka Mudra||Gesture of discussion||Connect the thumb and index fingertips with the palm facing forward at heart level.||Promotes wisdom, increases energy and develops a sense of clarity|
|43.||Merudanda Mudra||Gesture of the upright spine||Extend the thumbs of each hand upward and place the other fingers in the palm of your hand.||Strengthens the spine and removes unrest in the mind.|
|44.||Varada Mudra||Buddha's blessing donor gesture||Right hand outstretched, palm up and fingers pointing down.||Humiliate the seeker, cultivate the quality of forgiveness,|
|45.||Bhairava Mudra||Violent gesture from Lord Shiva||Place your right hand on the cup of your left hand. Fingertips of both hands in opposite directions.||Soothing and immediate relief effects for anxiety, stress and mood swings|
|46.||Asthma mudra||Asthma relieving gesture||Bend and squeeze the middle fingers of both hands on your fingernails. The palms of the hands should be squeezed together slightly, keeping the other fingers straight.||Improves breathing, clears constipation and toxins from the lungs,|
|47.||Uttarabodhi Mudra||Buddha's gesture of enlightenment||Lock both hand fingers. Now stretch your index fingers up, touch the tip and your thumb down.||Increases confidence, promotes optimism and promotes fearlessness|
|48.||Usha's mudra||Dawn posture||Grasp your hand with your finger crossed. Thumbs up.||Regulates irregular menstruation, regulates the correct flow of hormones.|
|49.||Mahasir's mudra||Great head gesture||Touch the tip of your index and middle fingers with the tip of your thumb, rotate your ring finger toward the base of your thumb, and extend your little finger.||Heals sinus problems, relieves eye strain and improves focus|
|50.||Kalesvara Mudra||Gesture of the god of time||Connect the first and second phalanx of both hand fingers, stretching the middle fingers up and connecting them. Join the thumb at the bottom to create a heart shape.||Helpful in getting rid of the procrastination habit, brings calm and develops adaptability|
List of hand mudras with meaning
2. Kaya Mudra (postural gesture)
Viparita Karani Mudra. Image source: Canva
Kaya mudras are similar to various yoga asanas in that these mudras require full body participation. It takes intense focus to keep the body in a specific Asana (or Pranayama) & Mudra.
|1.||Viparita Karani||Reverse gesture||The body in an inverted position on the shoulders and back is supported by the hands.||Release tension from cramped feet and legs and increase appetite|
|2.||Yoga mudra||Pose of psychic union||In Padmasana, grasp the left wrist on the back with the right hand and bend forward until the forehead touches the floor.||Improves muscle tone, stretches the muscles of the trunk and neck.|
|3.||Pashinee Mudra||Folded mental posture||From Halasana, bend your knees to touch the sides of your ears and shoulders. Then wrap your arms tightly around your legs and relax||Increases the flexibility of the spine and strengthens the abdominal organs.|
|4th||Manduki Mudra||Frog gesture||In Bhadrasana, close your mouth and then twist your tongue in your mouth to touch the upper roof of your mouth.||Prevent hair graying, aid digestion and improve the sense of taste|
|5.||Tadagi Mudra||Gesture of the pond||In Dandasana, holding your breath, pull the abdominal muscles into the hollow of the abdomen.||Relieves physical stress and reduces obesity.|
Types of Kaya Mudras with Meaning
3. Mana (head) mudra
Persimmon mudra. Image source: Shutterstock
Head mudras involve the practice of focusing the mind in meditation (mainly in Kundalini yoga). These mudras require the involvement of sense organs (eyes, nose, tongue, lips, and ears). Head mudras are so powerful that they can free us from instinctive habits (which become an obstacle to meditation) even in short periods of time.
|1.||Shambhavi Mudra||Gesture of the middle of the eyebrow||The eyes turned inward and up in the middle between the eyebrows.||Gives psychological strength, opens the third eye and reduces the perceived stress|
|2.||Shanmukhi Mudra||Six gates close gesture||Two ears, two eyes, nostrils and mouth are closed with five fingers.||Facial glow and improves hearing|
|3.||Khechari Mudra||Tongue lock||The tongue is rolled up to the hard roof of the mouth and then stretched backwards and upwards over time.||Opens clogged salivary glands, directs the mind inward and stimulates the master gland|
|4th||Bhoochari Mudra||Look into nothing||First, use your hand to pinpoint a point 4 to 5 inches from the tip of your nose. Then the hand is removed and focused on that point.||Increases awareness and thinking power.|
|5.||Persimmon mudra||Crow's bill gesture||Air is drawn in through rounded lips, which relaxes the tongue in the mouth.||Prevents the signs of aging like wrinkles, heals respiratory diseases|
|6th||Nasikagra Drishti||Look at the tip of the nose||The gaze is directed to the tip of the nose.||Good for calming and stability of the mind, relieving stress, improving concentration|
|7th||Unmani Mudra||Attitude of thoughtlessness||The eyes open wide, the consciousness is fixed on bindu, and as you exhale, the consciousness is drawn one by one to lower the chakras.||Stimulates all energy chakras and balances doshas.|
|8th.||Bhujangini Mudra||Cobra gesture||From a sitting position, lean forward, lift your chin, and air is swallowed through your mouth towards your stomach.||Heals digestive disorders, improves breathing and regulates eating habits.|
Types of manamudras with meaning
4.Bandha Mudra (lock gestures)
Maha Mudra (grand gesture). Image source: Canva
Bandhas with mudras use the involvement of subtle skeletal muscles (voice, airways, and pelvis) to hold the prana. This holding of Prana awakens Kundalini energy in the body.
|1.||Jalandhar Bandha||Neck lock||Chin to chest locks the neck||corrects the double chin and prevents all thyroid diseases|
|2.||Uddiyana Bandha||Abdominal lock||Pull your abs in and out||Strengthens the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm. improves digestion|
|3.||Mula Bandha||Root lock||Contract the pelvic floor muscles and pull them up||The Kundalini awakening stimulates the nervous system|
|4th||Maha Mudra||Great seal||All three bandhas are listed in total after doing sirshasana in January.||The destroyer of all 5 kleshas (ailments) that strengthen muscles, strengthens immunity|
Types of Bandha Mudras with Meaning
5. Adhara (perineal) mudra
Adhara or perineal mudra involves the involvement of the pelvic floor area to stimulate the sacral chakra, which in turn harnesses sexual energy in the body.
Practicing Adhara Mudra helps the energy to redirect into the solar channel (Pingala Nadi) of the body.
|1.||Vajroli Mudra||Thunderbolt gesture||Awareness of the muscles around the genital organ is cultivated, and then these muscles are contracted with full effort.||sexual potency, prevents premature ejaculation and improves vitality|
|2.||Ashwini Mudra||Horse gesture||The anal sphincter is contracted rhythmically.||Effective on heaps, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and urinary incontinence.|
|3.||Maha Vedha Mudra||The great pervasive mudra||The consciousness focuses on the root chakra in order to activate it.||Awaken psychological abilities, stimulate your endocrine system|
|4th||Maha Bheda Mudra||The great pervasive mudra||The consciousness is raised from the root chakra by piercing all chakras individually up to the crown chakra.||Prepare the mind for meditation, not afraid of death and decay.|
Types of Adhara Mudras with Meaning
How do I do yoga mudras?
- Get into a comfortable position – Most practiced hand mudras are performed in a meditation sitting position such as Easy Pose (Sukhasana), Lotus Pose (Padmasana) or Hero Pose (Virasana). However, you can also do some mudras while relaxing standing up or sitting in a chair if you are not comfortable sitting on the floor.
- Heat your hands – Before practicing a hand mudra, gently rub your hand and place it on the stomach facing the navel for a while. It will activate the nerves on your hands.
- Squeeze your fingertips together – After warming up your hands, place your fingers in the appropriate yoga mudra position and press lightly on the fingertips (enough so that you can feel the contact between the fingers). In most meditative mudras, after reaching a mudra, the back of the hand is placed on the knees.
- Hold the mudra – Hold your hands in relevant mudras so that the fingers are not allowed to move. First hold the mudra position for at least 12 breaths, then increase it over a period of 5 minutes in one session.
Working principle of the mudras
The work of yoga mudras is based on the principle of pancha mahabhutus, chakras and the network of nadis that are distributed throughout the body.
Five fingers that we use in Hasta Mudra actually encompass the 5 main elements of the body;
- thumb – Fire element – responsible for our needs such as hunger, thirst and sleep.
- index finger – Air element – responsible for movement and breath.
- Middle finger – Ether element – responsible for inner wisdom, intuition and determines our fears
- Ring finger – Earth element – responsible for body composition such as bones and tissues, flesh and skin and hair.
- Pinkie finger – Water element – responsible for body fluids such as saliva, blood, sweat, urine and semen.
When these 5 elements are imbalanced it can lead to a disruption of the mind and body to experience the negative effects of illness.
When practicing Yoga Mudra, different elements of the body are fused together. If a mudra is maintained for a period of time, this amalgamation of different elements brings a state of equilibrium between 5 elements. It ensures better health and well-being for practitioners.
The way we arrange the fingers in a yoga mudra shows whether it enlarges or reduces or balances any of the five elements.
- How to balance the effect of an element: The corresponding fingertip is connected to the tip of the thumb.
- To increase the effect of an element, the thumb is pressed at the base of the corresponding finger.
- To reduce the effect of an element: The corresponding finger is bent down to the base of the thumb.
Are mudras scientifically proven?
Yes, mudras are scientifically proven! So far, many studies have been published that prove the therapeutic use of mudras.
To evaluate the effects of yoga mudra, S-VYASA University India conducted a study that found that holding a hand mudra for 20 minutes or more increased the energy boost at the fingertips. It is measured using the EPI technique.
In this study, 61 volunteers were divided into two groups, namely the control group and the mudra group. In the mudra group, volunteers are said to have sat quietly in Prana Mudra for 20 minutes with their eyes closed. The control group also followed the same procedure, except that Prana Mudra was not practiced
- Significant changes in EPI parameters were observed in the yoga mudra group compared to the control group.
- The EPI (Electrophotonic Imaging) variable, intensity, is a measure of a subject's quantum activity, measured by holding all ten fingers individually on the glass surface of the EPI device. It is displayed in pixels on the computer unit and is a measure of the metabolic rate.
An increased effect size after practicing yoga mudra shows that if we hold the hand in a mudra long enough (at least 20 minutes) an energy surge occurs at the fingertips. Indeed, mudras direct energy to the body and prevent it from falling outward.
How mudras works
Think of the human body as a circuit in which electricity (energy) flows through nadis.
These nadis connect the different parts of the circuit (body organs). There are 5 main circuit breakers in the human body that start or end in either the hands or feet.
When you hold or press a particular finger in yoga mudra, the corresponding energy center or gland stimulates the brain (power supplier of the circulatory system). In this way, the brain receives a signal to change the energy pattern in the body by regulating the flow of prana.
Yoga Mudra is a subtle but extremely important part of yoga as it gives you the ability to direct the energy in the body in different ways. The asanas and pranayamas can be understood as a preparatory practice that promotes awareness that prana is within us. Then comes the practice of mudras with which you can interact and manipulate the pranic energy.
This is the reason in the Hatha Yoga tradition, Mudras are only practiced after mastering Asana, Pranayama & Bandha.
Mudra is associated with the changing mental and spiritual characteristics of an individual. This change through mudra enables the internal energy to be channeled by influencing sensory glands, veins and organs of the body.
Yoga Mudras FAQs
- How many mudras are there in total in yoga?
In yoga there are more than 399 mudras that are mentioned in different texts and by different yogis. However, 108 mudras are used in tantric rituals. In addition, 10 mudras are described in Hatha Yoga Pradipika and 25 mudras in Gheranda Samhita.
- How long does it take for mudras to work?
Mudras usually start showing their effects after 4 weeks if done consistently. If you have chronic illnesses this may take a little longer, around 6 to 7 weeks. The work efficiency of mudra depends on the consistency of your practice and your current physical condition.
- Can we do mudras at certain times?
There is no harm in practicing yoga mudras for a while. Indeed, some mudra (apana mudra) helps regulate the menstrual cycle.
According to yogic literature, there are two movements of energy in our body, the upward movement is called prana energy and the down movement is called apana energy. The very simple logic behind practicing mudras during the menstrual cycle is for the flow of energy to flow downwards (apana movement). By practicing mudra, period pain can be relieved by regularizing the apana movement.
- Healing mudras?
Yes, the healing mechanism of the mudras can be understood by the fact that there are acupressure points on the hands. When we connect the fingers in different arrangements in a mudra, the acupressure points of the respective parts are stimulated. In this way, mudras open the blockage in the respective nerves of the body by stimulating acupressure points. Therefore, mudras have a healing effect.
- How long do you hold a mudra?
Hold a mudra in one session for at least 15 minutes by applying very light pressure between your fingertips. Practice mudra like this three times a day.
Ideally, a mudra should be practiced for 45 minutes a day in yoga. Since a period of 45 minutes sounds daunting to many people, a mudra is practiced three times a day for the sake of simplicity.