Definition - What does Gyan Mudra mean?
Gyan mudra, otherwise known as chin mudra, is a sacred hand gesture or ‘seal’ used to direct energy and maintain focus. Gyan mudra is one of the most important and well known mudras, found across Buddhist, Hindu and Yoga traditions alike. Gyan is Sanskrit for ‘knowledge’ or ‘wisdom,’ and so this gesture is sometimes referred to as the Mudra of Knowledge.
Gyan mudra is traditionally practiced whilst in seated meditation, although some modern day practitioners are known to use it whilst holding standing asana (postures), such as utthita parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) or natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose).
To perform this mudra, bring the tip of the thumb and index finger together on both hands, forming a circle. Keep the remaining three fingers outstretched with the palm facing upward.
Gyan mudra is also referred to as chin mudra, cin mudra, and gyana mudra.
Yogapedia explains Gyan Mudra
Gyan mudra is primarily used to promote and maintain stability during meditation practices. As a practitioner holds seated meditation postures, such as padmasana (Lotus Pose) or sukhasana (Easy Pose), their hands form gyan mudra whilst resting on their knees. This creates an energetic seal, encouraging a healthy flow of prana (vital life force) and a balanced internal energy throughout the practice.
Gyan mudra can be combined with pranayama breathing techniques, such as ujjayi or kapalabhati, and should be held for at least 30 minutes in order to experience maximum benefit.
Gyan mudra has been practiced for thousands of years and is highly symbolic in several ways. The index finger is believed to relate to Jupiter, and so this gesture helps to connect the practitioner with this planet of knowledge and expansion.
It also symbolises the union of Self with the universe, of Atman and Brahman. The thumb represents supreme consciousness or Brahman, whilst the index finger represents the practitioner's individual soul, Atman. The bringing together of these two realities is fundamental to the yogic philosophy of evolving from ignorance to wisdom and from darkness to enlightenment, highlighting this mudra's significance.
Practicing gyan mudra helps the practitioner to focus on attaining true knowledge and wisdom. Particularly when held during meditation, gyan mudra can help to increase mental strength, sharpen concentration and improve focus.
According to Ayurveda the gesture also boosts Vayu (the Air Element), leading to enhanced memory as well as an improved nervous system and pituitary gland function. In yoga, gyan mudra is thought to be directly connected to the Muladhara chakra, the root energy centre responsible for governing our sense of stability, security and interconnectedness. As such, regular practice of this mudra may help to provide relief from depression or worries related to root chakra imbalance.