Mudras are symbolic hand gestures used in Hindu or Buddhist religious ceremonies and in the practice of yoga. Occasionally these gestures are done with the whole body, but more often they are focused on the hand.
Each Finger represents an Element: the thumb represents fire; the first finger represents air; the middle finger is space; and the ring finger is earth and the little finger represents water.
In the practice of Yoga, you are encouraged to use your body in many ways, but ultimately with the intention of drawing yourself inward. Mudras are powerful tools for accomplishing this. The term mudra applies to the use of hand gestures during meditation that carry specific goals of channeling your body’s energy flow. There are more than 100 known mudras that have been developed over the centuries.
Mudras are used in yoga and meditation to help you seal your energy and set an intention—two aspects of your practice that can be especially helpful during this time.
Here are 6 commonly used mudras that have been championed for centuries for their efficiency in providing happiness, health and empowerment.
Give each of these mudras a try and see how you feel. Even if you are wary of the energetic benefits of making shapes with your hands, consider the benefits of simply stretching and strengthening one of your most expressive body parts.
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Kshepana Mudra (Letting Go Mudra)
Sometimes known as Steeple Mudra, this gesture directs stress and negativity out of the body, making space for calm and positivity. You can use this Mudra in different Asana Postures like, Tadasana, Warrior 1 &3 as well as in Meditation.
By joining the two index fingers (which represent the air element) you can imagine anything you’d like to “let go” of being blown right out of your system and out of your fingertips.
Connect to the power you feel of your other fingers being interlaced, and either hold the shape while meditating or while practicing any variation of yoga postures.
The Surya Mudra (Sun Mudra)
This Mudra is intended to increase the solar/ fire element in the body and improve metabolism and digestion. It is also useful in reducing heaviness in the body and to help ward off colds, since it increases core body temperature.
Perform this mudra by bending your ring finger to the base of your thumb so that your thumb touches the ring finger’s knuckle.
Stretch your other three fingers straight without stressing the hand.
The Ganesh Mudra (Remover of Obstacles)
This Mudra is widely used and is named after the Hindu Ganesh. Ganesha is said to be a remover of obstacles. Similarly, this mudra is great for relieving yourself of all types of obstructions in your life; it can help you regain positivity and courage when dealing with hard times. By performing this mudra, you bring your attention and energy into the heart center, opening up your lungs and heart to the subject of your meditation.
Aside from the mental and spiritual benefits on your heart chakra, the pulling motion is also beneficial to your cardiac muscles and good for tension in this area of the body.
Place your left hand in front of your chest with your palm facing outward and left thumb down.
Place your right hand in front of your left with your right palm facing toward you and your left palm. Lock your fingers together, holding them in a half-bent position like a claw.
Prana Mudra (Life Force or Happiness Mudra)
Like a closed-up peace sign, this simple gesture harnesses the positive flow of life-force energy and increases vitality and enthusiasm for life. If you feel fatigued or worn out, this mudra can give you a natural boost of energy.
Bring together the tips of the ring and little fingers together with the thumb.
Try holding your hands in Prana Mudra while taking several deep breaths in stronger power poses as well, like Goddess or Warrior II.
Agni Mudra (Fire Mudra)
This is the Mudra of fire and transformation. Agni Mudra helps to build confidence and willpower, while burning through any obstacles that prevent you from living your happiest life. Yoga and meditation teacher, and author of the book Mudras for Modern Life, Swami Saradananda, suggests pairing Agni Mudra with the mantra, “I offer my negative qualities to the fire of transformation.”
Begin by cupping your left hand, palm up in front of your solar plexus.
With the right hand, make a fist and point your thumb straight up.
Place the right fist in the left palm.
You can imagine the right thumb is a candle flame, and as you meditate on the gesture, invite any areas of your life to be transformed by the flame.
Rudra Mudra (Shiva Mudra)
This Mudra is often associated with Shiva, as it applies to your internal transformative abilities. The word Rudra means ”lord” in Sanskrit, which is fitting for this gesture because the main benefits affect your personal power center—the solar plexus. It is said to improve clarity and concentration of thought. Often this mudra is prescribed for those dealing with dizziness, exhaustion, and chronic tension in their body. You can use the Rudra Mudra (say that out loud for a laugh) to Energize your physical body and empower you to reach your highest potential or goals.
To do this mudra, connect your thumb to your index and ring fingers while keeping your other two fingers as straight as you can.