Many a time, you must have seen photos or pictures of people meditating, putting their hands in specific positions; for example, with tips of the thumbs and index fingers touching each other over the knees, or hands open lying over the lap, with both thumbs touching each other.

Even a young child that plays while doing yoga, sets his fingers in one of these alignments, closing his eyes and chanting OM, even without knowing its purpose. These known positions of hands and fingers associated to meditation are named mudras. They are a very important resource for an integral practice and here in Meditative Mind you’ll find how they work and few instructions to do the most relevant ones.

History and philosophy behind mudras

The word mudra is commonly translated as joy, and also as ‘seal’ or ‘sealing ring’. The use of this technology is dated since beginning of yoga history and related practices around the world. Its simultaneous use with postures and/or breathing techniques is still common. The way mudras are done during the practice, can be interpreted by the teacher as an indicator of student’s concentration, alertness and personality.

Yogis perceive hands as a peripheral representation of body and brain. By joining the tip of your fingers or setting your hands in a specific posture, you’re building energetic circuits not only in your hand, but also in your brain and body and depending upon the connection made, specific alterations on consciousness and effects can be achieved.

Once you acquire some practice about them and/or sensibility about your etheric field (‘aura’), mudras are -literally- a very handy resource to keep that Meditative Mind and awareness during your journey and also during your daily practice.  

Science and clinical experience: Mudras as medicine

Kundalini Yoga teacher Dr. David Shannahoff-Khalsa, has shown through experiments the benefits of meditations that include Mudra yoga to slow down or help stopping worsening of psychiatric and neurodegenerative illnesses, like depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Medicinal Yoga, an international educational program which mixes psychoneuroimmunology and yoga has brought to practice for patients and students these Mantras, letting health professionals become aware of their real effect.

How to do the Mudras

These postures may look easy and non-transcendental for the common eyes, because its effect is achieved by taking care of slight details and using your mind focus properly during its application.

The main instruction to follow for any correct mudra, is that the position and alignment starts in your arms. Arms wrongly bent or forcefully extended are a signal that you are or will be out of focus in less than 5 seconds. To help you stay in focus, be aware of them and also of the fingers free (without doing any connection) or extended in the mudra, as much as of the fingers that do the seals.

Focusing your mind not just on the mudra, but also on imagining how energy flows through them will ease manifestation of its effect. It’s not an effect that depends on suggestion because you may not know the specific effect of that mudra and through this visualization you’ll get it. Mudras are extensions of the mind that allow you to discover its true power, but they may become ineffective without proper concentration, because mind isn’t located in your brain but wherever its focus is directed to.

7 basic mudras to start practicing

Gyan Mudra for concentration

The most famous one – It’s done by joining the tips of the index and thumb fingers in each hand, drawing a circle with those fingers. The rest of the 3 fingers stay stretched (in an active way and not just relaxed, otherwise you’ll disconcentrate easily). When it’s correctly done, gyan mudra helps to get focus during meditation, especially if combined  with the dhristi (eyes closed and focused upto the third eye).

Shuni, Ravi and Buddhi Mudra

These mudras are set by connecting the tip of the thumb with the tip of the middle, ring and little finger, respectively. Shuni is the mudra for wisdom. Ravi (also called surya or sun mudra) is for energy. Buddhi mudra is for communication, as the little finger is called mercury finger.]

Ganesha mudra or bear lock for the heart

This mudra is also frequently used as well, even though it’s not that famous. First, locate your left hand open facing outside at the level of the heart (a few centimeters away from the chest). The other hand is set facing your chest just in front of the left hand, and then grabs both hands with each other, doing a yin-yang shape with them. Both arms stay parallel to the floor.

From this pose, inhale, suspend the breath and pull both arms out to the sides, like if you were trying to pull your hands off, but the grab between both hands continues. Keep that tension as much as you can. Exhale and repeat the procedure.

This mudra is very good for heart health and the Fourth Chakra and releasing tensions stored in arms and shoulders.

Venus Mudra

This one is very useful for sexual energy balance and reduce anxiety related to sex. It’s done by interlocking the fingers of both hands and keeping the base of the palms together, but there’s an important difference depending on your gender.

Men must lay their right thumb on the left thumb, and all the rest of the fingers continue that same pattern (example: right index finger on left index finger, and so on). Women do it inverted: right fingers on the left ones.

it’s common for students to find it uncomfortable, because they’re used to do the mudra inverted to what’s suggested, because if inverted they intuitively know its original gender is being stimulated. But, as we said, Venus Mudra helps your mind become neutral during the practice by calming your sexual energy for a better control of it.

Pranam Mudra

This is a simple mudra made just to help you bring peace and calm to your heart. It consists on bringing both palms and fingers together in front of the chest. Fingers are straight and together, and the thumbs gently touch your chest. This mudra also works to bring humility and innocence for your prayers, as it makes you connect with God from the heart and not from the mind. And even though it’s a so simple mudra, sometimes happens that it’s hard to keep both palms together. If that happens to you is because the energy of your heart in unbalanced and needs calm.