CHECK THIS OUT TOO
Mudras, at one time or another I’m sure we’ve all heard of these (typically) hand gestures added to various poses within yoga classes. These mudras can be downright intimidating if you’re a new yogi, or have not had experience with them – I oftentimes get asked during my classes what are mudras, what are the benefits, and why should I do them?
The Magic of Mudras: What are They?
Mudra, mudra, mudra (I love saying that word!). This word is Sanskrit (another intimidating topic) and is a unique way to deepen yoga practices through utilizing the elements and redirecting energy throughout the body (basically it is a way to enhance your yogi practice). I like to think of the Mudras as extra toppings for your frozen yogurt (in this case representing your yoga practice), they are fabulous and can add an extra “zing” to your practice. There are lots and lots of mudras, each carrying its unique benefits and significance, so try ones on and find which one works for you, your body, and your overall well-being.
Through simply putting our hands through these “yogi motions”, our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health are increased and better aligned with one another. This balance is extremely beneficial, virtually impacting every single aspect of our life and health. Before we get started let’s chat quickly about what each finger represents when it comes to the marvelous mudras.
The thumb represents fire, the index finger signifies air, the middle finger characterizes ether, the ring finger embodies earth, and the pinky finger epitomizes water. As you can see the mudras are deeply rooted into the natural elements, helping us to balance ourselves through the utilization of outside energy forces.
The Interconnectedness between Mudras, Elements, and our Well-Being
Why are we utilizing these elements though? Well according to ancient texts, the elements are represented within our bodies, connecting our physical beings to the universe. For example, the earth element is found within our bodies as anything that is considered solid is therefore labeled as “earth”. This can be our soft tissue, bones, internal organs, etc. (anything physical that is found within us).
The air element is brought into us with each breath we take, and as we all know the breath is highly regarded within the yogi culture and throughout our practice.
The fire element is shockingly related to warmth/heat within our bodies. This heat is cultivated by our breath, as well as our muscles as they generate heat within our physical bodies.
Water is another crucial element for us to sustain life. This element keeps the other elements in balance and any liquid within the body is considered to be a part of this element.
Finally, the element of ether brings together all of the other four elements together! Through the utilization of all of these elements we become more balanced beings, directly impacting our overall well-being.
A Challenge for YOU: Try Out A Few of My Favorite Mudras!
Let’s break down a few common mudras and their unique significance and benefits!
1. Buddhi Mudra
Touch the tips of your pinky (small finger) and thumb together (THAT’S IT!)
Significance: Unites the two elements of both fire and water together.
Benefits: Increased communication between yourself and others, facilitates intuition, and brings about feelings of openness in all aspects of life.
2. Gyana Mudra (AKA Chin Mudra)
Touch the tip of your index finger with the tip of your thumb (this is one of the most common mudras – typically seen in most yogi practices)
Significance: Unifies both fire and air – helping to unite consciousness within the self and the universe.
Benefits: Use this mudra in your practice to help increase creativity, enhance concentration, and use as an overall knowledge hand gesture.
3. Anjali Mudra
Bring the palms of your hands together at your heart center (right in front of your sternum)
Significance: The significance of this mudra stems from the hand placement (the heart space) symbolizing both honor, love, and respect.
Benefits: Through utilizing this mudra you are displaying the love and respect you have both for yourself and for the overall universe. This mudra ultimately represents an attitude of gratitude.
4. Prana Mudra
Touch the tips of your ring and pinky finger to the tip of your thumb.
Significance: Unites the three elements of fire, water, and earth together unleashing energy throughout your body.
Benefits: This mudra symbolizes the prana energy, which my help you to feel more energized throughout your day. This is one of the mudras that helps to redirect energy throughout the body.
5. Surya Ravi Mudra
Place your thumb over your ring finger or touch both finger tips together.
Significance: Unites the elements of both fire and earth.
Benefits: Using this mudra helps to provide feelings of balance (cultivating feelings of positive change), energy, and health.
6. Shuni Mudra
Touch the tips of your middle finger with the tip of your thumb.
Significance: Unites the two elements of both ether and fire together.
Benefits: The significance of this mudra symbolizes stability. Specifically, through patience and discipline, this mudra fully displays stability.
Hopefully these mudras will help you to deepen your practice, and self-reflection. Next time you’re in class try a few of these mudras on, redirecting the energy flow throughout your body. If you feel as though none of these mudras fit, you and where you are in your life feel free to research other mudras that will help to redirect the flow of energy from the elements in ways that will be beneficial for you.
Something as simple as moving your fingers through these various motions may bring about large lifestyle changes. Using the forces from the earth along with your inner energy, the flow of energy within your body is brought about.
Have you ever used mudras? Do you have any tips and/or tricks for mudra beginners? Have any of your yoga instructors used mudras within any of your yogi practices?
Let me know! I’d love to read your comments!
Occupational Therapy student Mandy Fabry always had a passion for yoga. Trading in her traditional role as a student to begin her journey as an instructor and blogger. She projects an air on lightness and celebrates each body, breath, and movement. Her background not only nourishes the physical body, but restores the soul as well. Appreciating the body as a whole is Mandy’s main focus, and will bring awareness and balance to all aspects of your life. She is excited to take this next step with you, and hopes that the benefits and lifestyle of yoga can be accessed by all.