Studying the mudras, the hand gestures we often do in moments of yoga stillness, pranayama and meditation (and the subtle-yet-wonderful thing for which this blog is named), can be a deeply rewarding practice. It can also be confusing as hell, so here are three easy ones to start with that you can use anytime you want to bring about the good vibes.
In Sanskrit, mudra means “seal” or “closure” and we use these hand gestures to direct focus and energy within the body, by using the hands.
Different areas of the hands are connected, neurologically and/or energetically, with different areas in the body and the brain. So by placing our hands in various yoga mudras, we theoretically stimulate different areas of the brain and create specific energy circuits in the body and help generate a specific state of mind.
Anjali mudra: You’ve definite done this one. Simply the palms together in front of your heart space to express love and gratitude, and as a gesture of honor and respect to yourself, toward others, and toward the universe. Say it: AHN-jah-lee MOU-dra
Gyan mudra: You’ll, no doubt, see this one a lot, too, as it’s probably one of the most used in yoga after the Anjali mudra. To do it, simply bring the tips of the thumb and index finger together, and keep the other three fingers together, lightly stretched. (Envision giving someone an “ok” hand gesture to get an idea of the shape.) This mudra is said to increase concentration, creativity, and is a gesture of knowledge. To receive energy from it, keep your palms facing upwards with this mudra. To help feel more grounded, go palms down on top of your legs. Say it: GIE-ahn MOU-dra
Prana mudra: This is a really lovely and energizing mudra, as it is said to help activate stagnant energy in the body and mind. To do it, bring the tips of your thumb, ring finger, and little finger together. This mudra is said to encourage the flow of prana energy (prana = the vital life force in all things), making you feel energized and strong. Say it: PRA-nah MOU-dra
Want more? He’s a great, in-depth tutorial about these and other mudras from the Chopra Center.