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Mudras for Meditation: Exploring Energetic Seals

Yoga, an ancient science of finding harmony between the individual and the universe, describes various methods to work with prana – life force energy – to achieve its goal. One of these methods is mudra, which translates to seal or gesture.

Like bandhas or energetic locks, mudras provide direct access to prana throughout the body. This article will introduce the concept of mudras and provide basic practices that you can incorporate into your yoga practice or daily routine.

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Why Practice Mudras?

Mudras are gestures that manipulate prana in specific ways. When we work with energy, we affect the entire body. Therefore, mudras promote well-being on all levels. 

Learning Mudras can enhance the effects of your yoga practice or your ability to concentrate during meditation. Furthermore, we can employ specific mudras to balance energy, support peaceful states of mind, and facilitate the body’s healing ability. Every mudra is like a key that can unlock a desired effect in some aspect of your life.

Types of Mudras


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The most common mudras are hand gestures, used primarily during meditation practice. According to yogic philosophy, the universe is in our hands – in the form of elements, the building blocks of our bodies and world.

The science behind the hand mudra, or hasta mudra, in Sanskrit, is that each of our fingers corresponds to one of the five elements. Furthermore, each of the elements relates to an energy center (chakra) in the body, as follows:

  • Thumb: Fire: Solar Plexus
  • Index finger: Air: Heart
  • Middle finger:  Ether (Space): Throat
  • Ring finger: Earth: Root
  • Little finger: Water: Sacral

Therefore, by creating mudras using different fingers, we can stimulate, reduce, or balance the presence of corresponding elements in the body. Similarly, mudras allow us to connect to specific chakras and their attributes.

In addition to hand mudras, yoga also identifies mudras that we create either with other body parts or with the entire body.

Mudras for Meditation

Various spiritual traditions throughout the world use hand gestures as a tool to focus awareness. If you struggle with meditation or concentration, experimenting with basic mudras will likely provide immediately noticeable results! Here are some common mudras for meditation.

Dyan Mudra

Dyan or Dyana mudra translates to “mudra of concentration,” which adequately describes its primary purpose. To practice Dyan mudra, sit comfortably with your left hand on your lap and your right hand resting on your left hand. In this position, both palms will face upward so that the tips of your thumbs gently touch one another. 

In some Tantric traditions, this same gesture is called Bhairava or Bhairavi mudra (depending on which hand is on top) as a reference to uniting the divine masculine and divine feminine forces in the body. Shakyamuni Buddha is often depicted in this position, which sects of Buddhism also call “the mudra of concentration.”

Chin and Gyan Mudras

Along with the elements, our fingers also relate to other concepts in life. One of these representations is the index finger as personal awareness and the thumb as universal awareness. Thus, by touching the index finger with the thumb, we join the small personal self with the larger cosmic Self.

You can practice Chin mudra by joining the thumb and index fingers with palms facing upward. This gesture translates to “mudra of consciousness” and can help open the individual to outside energies.

Gyan (or jnana) mudra is the same but with palms facing downward. The English translation of Gyan is “wisdom” or “knowledge.” Accordingly, it directs our awareness toward the infinite source of wisdom within.

We typically practice these mudras seated, with hands resting comfortably on thighs or knees. However, you can also use hand mudras during walking meditation or throughout the day.

Shambhavi Mudra

Shambhavi mudra is a mudra that we form using the eyes rather than the hands. Thus, it classifies as a kaya (body) mudra or, specifically, a mana (head) mudra. To practice Shambhavi mudra, gently focus your eyes on your third eye center – the space between your eyebrows. This mudra stimulates your third eye and pineal gland, supporting deeper states of meditation. It can also increase your intuition and psychic abilities. 

Initially, Shambhavi mudra might strain your eyes. If so, practice for short amounts of time until it begins to feel natural.

Other Mudras

Anjali Mudra

Anjali mudra is also known as “Namaskar” because it is the hand gesture for a typical greeting in India (and other parts of the world). However, placing both hands together at the heart is not only a warm welcome; it benefits the body and mind by inviting awareness and balance into life. 

Anjali mudra is a mudra of humbleness, gratitude, and offering – to others and ourselves. We often use this mudra at the beginning or end of a yoga practice. It is also integral to some yoga postures, including the standing position in sun salutations. However, around the world, different cultures use this gesture to offer respect or prayers to people and places. To practice, firmly press your palms and fingers together in front of your heart, fingers upwards, with your thumbs against your heart center.

Ashwini Mudra

Ashwini means “horse gesture,” this mudra is meant to awaken latent energy and move it throughout the body. Ashwini is another example of a mudra that doesn’t involve hands. We perform this mudra by contracting and releasing the anal sphincter during breath retention. To practice, inhale profoundly and pulse (contract and release) your anal sphincter while retaining your breath. You can do this rhythmically, at your own pace, for several rounds.

Although this might sound strange to those new to yoga, exercises in the region surrounding the base of the spine and the pelvic floor are essential in containing prana in the area of the spine, our central energetic channel.

Viparita Karani Mudra

Legs Up (The Wall) pose, a common way to wind down an asana practice or a hectic day, is also classified as a mudra in traditional Hatha yoga texts. This posture is an example of a full-body mudra that reverses and balances pranic flow, directing energy upwards. It also stimulates the throat chakra, which is related to purification, creative expression, and truth.

To practice this mudra, lie on the floor with your hands underneath your glutes for support. Slowly raise your legs perpendicular to the floor with your body at a 90-degree angle. A restorative version of this posture would be to take a similar posture but with legs resting against a wall for support. You can hold this mudra with long, deep breathing for several minutes.

Your Life is in Your Hands

Although this article focuses on the energetic benefits of mudras for yoga, mudras serve to heal all sorts of physical ailments and mental conditions – from insomnia to depression to sore throat. By understanding the use of mudras to balance energy and the composition of elements in our bodies, we can work with all challenges that come our way.