Mudras, also known as "seals" or "locks," are gestures of the hands. When you see yogis meditating with their hands resting on their knees, thumb and forefinger touching, they are performing a mudra.
Why are they doing this? Because it's believed that by placing the hands in these various formations, yogis are moving energy into the places in the body that typical yoga postures can't reach.
Here's a list of 10 of the most intriguing mudras along with their benefits!
1. Gyan Mudra
This is by far the most commonly used mudra in a yoga and meditation practice. You’ve probably done this one hundreds of times if you follow yogic meditations online or if you have your own meditation practice. Gyanmudra, which is also called chin mudra, is the one in which your pointer fingers and thumbs come together to form a circle while the remaining three fingers remain outstretched.
This formation of the hands is believed to bring about union – both individually and universally. It’s also said to foster knowledge, concentration and creativity. Gyan mudra is used to open up the flow of energy throughout the body as well.
To practice gyan mudra:
- Bring the tip of the thumb to touch the tip of the index finger on both hands.
- Keep the remaining fingers out straight, but relaxed.
2. Shunya Mudra
This one is done like gyan mudra, except you bring the middle finger to touch the thumb as opposed to the index finger. Shunya mudra, also called shuni mudra, is believed to foster an individual’s ability to be patient, stable and disciplined. It’s also believed to heal ear maladies. If you need more of these qualities in your life, practice shuni mudra as you sit quietly.
To practice shunya mudra:
- Bring the tip of the middle finger to the base of the palm.
- Press the thumb gently against the middle finger below the knuckle.
- Allow your other fingers to remain relaxed and straight.
3. Surya Ravi Mudra
Surya ravi mudra is done just like the two above but with the ring finger touching the thumb. It’s used to bring wellness, energy and positive transformation to the yoga practitioner. Surya and ravi both mean "sun" in Sanskrit, as such this mudra is also referred to as the "seal of the sun". You can practice this mudra when you also need to feel balanced and whole.
To practice surya ravi mudra:
- Touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the ring ringer.
- Allow the other three fingers to remain straight and relaxed.
4. Lotus Mudra
Lotus mudra brings forth compassion and loving-kindness. This mudra also represents positive transformation, dissolving the layers of mud and muck until your true nature comes to the fore – the nature of your higher Self, your Atman.
To practice this mudra:
- Place your hands together at your heart center.
- Touch the pinky fingers together and the thumbs together.
- Extended the other six fingers towards the sky.
- Imagine your hands are forming a sacred lotus blossom in front of your heart.
5. Anjali Mudra
Anjali mudra is just as familiar to most people as gyan mudra. It’s the gesture we do when we say, “Namaste,” and it’s sometimes called Namaste or prayer position. You simply bring your hands to prayer position in front of your heart center.
This powerful mudra is a gesture of thanks. It’s also the symbol for gratitude and seeing the holy light in all others as well as in yourself. When we bow with our hands in anjali mudra it’s like saying, “The light in me acknowledges the light in you.” Most of us do this one just as often as we do gyan mudra, and people in India practice the mudra as they greet people in their every day lives.
(Learn more about Why We Say Namaste.)
To practice anjali mudra:
- Bring your palms together at your heart center with your fingers pointing skyward.
6. Karana Mudra
We practice karana mudra for dissolving negative thought waves in the mind as well as for removing obstacles in one's path. Karana mudra also stimulates the Fire and Ether elements within the body. Karana mudra is also known as the "gesture for warding off evil" due to its ability to dispel negativity and anxiety.
To practice karana mudra:
- Bring the left hand up to the heart with the palm facing away from the body.
- Bring the ring and middle fingers down towards the palm until the tip of the thumb can gently hold both of them.
- The other two fingers remain straight and relaxed.
7. Ganesha Mudra
Ganesha mudra is the mudra for the elephant deity, Ganesh, who is said to remove obstacles. As such, this mudra is said to help provide a boost to self-confidence and provide the practitioner the strength to overcome personal obstacles.
This mudra also helps releases heart tension. Ganesha mudra is also said to relieve the intensity of any kind of heartache. If you’re feeling heavy hearted, as if the energy surrounding the heart is dense in any way, you’ll want to practice ganesha mudra.
To practice Ganesha mudra:
- Bring your palms together at your heart center.
- Swivel your palms so that your fingers are pointing towards the other arm's elbow with your right palm facing towards the body and the left palm facing outward.
- Slide the palms back until you can grip the fingers together.
- The thumbs rest against the little finger of the other hand.
8. Dhyana Mudra
Dhyana mudra is believed to invoke a sense of calm – perfect for sitting in quiet contemplation or meditation. This mudra represents total balance. The right hand represents enlightenment and states of higher consciousness and it sits over the left hand, which represents illusion.
To practice dhyana mudra:
- Bring the hands together in the lap with the back of the right hand resting on top of the palm of the left hand.
- Bring the tips of the thumbs together to complete the circle.
9. Hakini Mudra
Hakini mudra is believed to enhance communication and cooperation between both hemispheres of your brain. This mudra is named after the goddess Hakini. Hakini in Sanskrit means "power," thus this mudra is believed to give practitioners power over their own mind.
To practice hakini mudra:
- Bring the palms to face each other with a few inches between them.
- Bring the tips of each finger to touch the matching finger on the other palm.
- The hands can then be raised to touch the center of the forehead.
10. Abhaya Mudra
Abhaya mudra is a mudra of friendliness. It invokes a welcoming energy – one that expresses peace to others. Abhaya mudra is symbolic of safety and peace. Abhaya in Sanskrit means "fearlessness," as such this mudra can be used to invoke a sense of deep courage.
To practice abhaya mudra:
- Bring the right hand up to shoulder height with the palm facing outward.
- Keep the fingers relaxed and straight.
Good Mood Mudras
Consider using one of these 10 mudras for your practice – whether it's while you sit quietly in meditation or throughout the day – to influence your energy and tap into the inherent healing powers of your body.
For best results, keep your fingers in the mudra positions for at least five minutes with just enough pressure to feel the energy flow, but not so much that your fingertips turn white.
(In addition to mastering these mudras, here are 7 Steps to Take Your Meditation Practice to the Next Level.)
During These Times of Stress and Uncertainty Your Doshas May Be Unbalanced.
To help you bring attention to your doshas and to identify what your predominant dosha is, we created the following quiz.
Try not to stress over every question, but simply answer based off your intuition. After all, you know yourself better than anyone else.