In Sanskrit, the word Mudra translates to “seal” or “gesture”. Through the movements of our hands and fingers, Mudras help to connect our mind and body by activating our energy flow. They can be seen as tools to help the flow of subtle energies in the body and enhance an individual’s yoga practice. Mudras are traditionally done along with pranayama practice (breath practice) or meditation.
There are five elements of the human body and in nature; earth, water, space, fire, and air. Each of our five fingers represents one element. It is believed that through the regular practice of mudras, we can create a balance in the body between these five elements. There are 24+ different types of Mudras in yoga philosophy (depending on where you look). Here are five of the most popular.
Anjali Mudra: Namaste Mudra
This mudra is often done at the end of a yoga class to seal the class practice with an intention or with a closing "Namaste". Energetically, this mudra helps to connect our right and left sides of the brain, one of the ultimate goals of yoga, to bring ourselves into union. This mudra helps to deepen our connection to ourselves, our higher consciousness, or a higher power or higher love.
Gyan Mudra is thought to connect ourselves with our true inner wisdom and consciousness. It is especially beneficial during meditation or pranayama practice and is usually done on both hands. This mudra increases our focus, allows us to focus our energy, and promote inner stillness.
Prana Mudra: Life Force Mudra
Prana Mudra is sometimes referred to as the 'Mudra of Life'. Prana is life force energy that is within our bodies giving us vitality and energy. It helps enhance vitality and promote our prana to flow freely within our bodies. This mudra has many benefits including helping with emotional blockages, boosting self-confidence, and calming anxiety. It also stimulates our root chakra and heals emotional blockages related to this chakra.
Prithvi Mudra: Mudra of Earth
Prithvi mudra promotes spiritual healing and balance in the body. It is associated with the Earth element which represents our physical bodies. This mudra helps to heal a wide array of physical ailments including hair loss, nail loss, weight loss, fatigue, body weight and it also stimulates hair growth. It also helps to keep the mind clear and reduce anxiety. Use this mudra to enhance your yoga practice to salute mother earth.
Apana Mudra: Mudra of Digestion
The word 'apana' translated in Sanskrit refers to energy or air that flows in our abdomen. This mudra detoxifies the body and heals digestive issues. It also helps to promote balance in the body by helping to rid it of toxins. In yogic terms, this mudra is linked to apana vayu, which relates to the downward movement of energy. That means anything to do with the elimination process of waste or toxins, and for women regulating the menstrual cycle.
“Some of the mudras can balance an element in the body in 45 minutes or less, while others have an immediate effect. Mudras are universal and can be performed anywhere, anytime, by anybody. As there are no medications involved, one need not worry about the side effect of chemicals in the body. The science of mudras is very exact and perfect.” -- Sonal Joshi