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. But 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. Cool, huh?
Here's a list of 10 of the most intriguing mudras along with their benefits!
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. Gyan mudra, 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.
This one is done like gyan mudra, except you bring the middle finger to touch the thumb as opposed to the index finger. Shuni mudra, also called shunya 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.
Surya Ravi Mudra
This one 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. Practice this one when you also need to feel balanced and whole. (If you think you need to practice surya ravi mudra, then you may also be interested in Getting Grounded: What It Means and How to Get It.)
To practice lotus mudra, simply place your hands together at your heart center – pinky fingers touching each other and thumbs touching each other. Imagine your hands are forming a sacred lotus blossom in front of your heart.
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.
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.)
This one is done with your pointer and pinky fingers facing straight upward while the thumb touches the middle and ring fingers. We practice karana mudra for dissolving negative thought waves in the mind as well as for removing obstacles in one's path.
Ganesha mudra is the mudra for the elephant deity, Ganesh, who is said to remove obstacles. To practice ganesha mudra, the left hand resides in front of the heart chakra with its back facing toward your heart. You then take the right hand fingers and pull on the left hand fingers. The right thumb is pointing upward and the left thumb points downward. As you sit in meditation and breathe, you gently pull the fingers apart from one another without breaking the seal. Hold for five breaths and then switch the cross of the fingers. You’re basically doing the exact same mudra, but on the opposite side.
This mudra invokes courage and 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.
This mudra is performed with your hands on your lap with your left palm beneath your right one. Palms are facing upward and the thumbs come together to touch.
Dhyana mudra is believed to invoke a sense of calm – perfect for sitting in quiet contemplation or meditation. (In addition to this mudra, you'll want to learn about Turning the Mind 'Off' for Meditation.)
This one is done by placing all the fingertips of your right hand to touch all the fingertips of the left hand, so that they’re mirroring each other with the palms separated from one another.
Hakini mudra is believed to enhance communication and cooperation between both hemispheres of your brain.
This mudra is done by allowing your left hand to rest on your knee and your right hand to be held at the side of your shoulder with the palm facing outwards. The hand is held flat and open.
Abhaya mudra is a mudra of friendliness. It invokes a welcoming energy – one that expresses peace to others.
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.)