A Yoga Mudra Guide for Beginners

about-yoga-mudra

Mudras are the gestures that channelize the flow of energy of the body. These symbolic and ritual gestures have been widely used in the East for thousands of years, particularly in Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.

Mudras are also practiced in Indian classical dances and traditional yoga. Three Mudras are mentioned in the Amritasiddhi, twenty-five is described in the Gheranda Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika consists of a set of 10 classical Mudras.

Practicing Mudras guides the energy flow in the subtle body and builds the inner connection. From Indian greeting gesture of joining palms in front of the chest, Namaste to the Christian’s crossing of the fingers for prayer is a Mudra.

Mudra is one of the limbs of yoga as mentioned in the traditional yoga text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Definition of a Mudra

Mudra is a term stemming from the Sanskrit word Mu means ‘delight’ and Ra means ‘produce’. The literal meaning of Mudra is ‘seal’, ‘gesture’ or ‘mark’. Gestures made by body parts like hand, face, finger or other body organs that represent some specific energy lies within the body.

According to the Bhagavad Gita, Mudras are one which gives happiness to the divine being and troubles to the demonic beings. Therefore, Mudras maintain sound health and remove diseased energy.

On a spiritual level, performing a certain Mudra is an outer representation of one’s inner intentions.

Use of Mudra in India

In India there are three levels at which the Mudras are applied:

  • In classical dance forms such as Kathak, Bharatnatyam, and Kathakali, Mudras act as fully meaningful gestures to convey bhavas and rasas.
  • In Hindu, Buddhist and Jain ritualistic worship and prayer, Nyasa and Mudras are used meaningfully in various rites.
  • In Yoga and Tantras, Mudras are used with the most evolutionary knowledge available to the flow of energy in the tissues, nerve channels, organs of the body as well as their correlations to higher flows of Prana in the subtle and physical body.

The history behind a Mudra

Within the ancient times, these Mudras are taught to the aspirants by the great saints and yogis who had thoroughly experienced the use of Mudras in the advanced practices of yoga.

The knowledge of Mudra was a secret considered to be under the regime of the higher yoga. It was limited to the ardent practitioners of yoga.

Mudra is believed to be an ancient technique that describes emotional, psychic and aesthetic gestures of hands.

Traditional yoga masters recommend Mudras to balance the energy and the subtle essential elements in the body.

Types of Mudras

Approximately four hundred Mudras estimated to be practiced in different religions including the sculptures & paintings iconography. These spiritual gestures are an integral part of traditions like Dharma and Taoism and practiced for thousands of years to compliment Asanas, Pranayama, meditation and healing practices.

There are different categories of Mudras designed to gain varied benefits, depending on what we specifically need. Mudras are done with the coordination with breathing to enhance the flow of Prana in the body.

In a nutshell, all the Mudras are broadly categorized into the following five major types.

Hasta Mudra or Hand Gesture

Hasta Mudras are favorable for meditative practices and aids in internalization. These are the most commonly practiced symbolic gesture done using various positioning of thumb, fingers & hands. It focuses on balancing the characteristics of five subtle elements of the universe.

hasta-mudra

Some hand gestures are developed for use in rituals like Tantras and others evolved as iconographical symbols for illustration of deities in sculptors and paintings.

  • Gyan Mudra (gesture of knowledge)
  • Anjali Mudra (gesture of reverence)
  • Prana Mudra (gesture to activate vital life force )

Mana Mudra or Head Gesture

Mana mudras are a crucial part of many meditative techniques including Kundalini Yoga and Meditation. The practice of these yogic gestures involves the use of your Jnana Indriyas (senses) helps to control the mind.

mana-mudra
  • Khechari Mudra (tongue lock)
  • Shanmukhi Mudra (closing the six gates)
  • Shambhavi Mudra (eyebrow centre gazing)

Kaya Mudra or Postural Gesture

Kaya mudras are similar to the yogic postures but it focuses more on the flow of Prana, Chakras and getting into a meditative pose. Considered to be the challenging Mudras, these require the most amounts of concentration and focus to hold.

kaya-mudra

Postural Gestures stimulate the energy in the body and channelize the Prana into specific chakras.

  • Viparita Karani Mudra (inverted gesture)
  • Manduki Mudra (gesture of the frog)
  • Yoga Mudra (union gesture)

Bandha Mudra or Lock Gesture

Bandha Mudras lock the energy in the body and prevents the dissipating of the energy by redirecting it.

bandha-mudra

Lock Mudras are performed by engaging respiratory, vocal and pelvis) to hold the Prana. The holding of Prana awakens the subtle Kundalini energy that resides at the base of the spine.

  • Jalandhara Bandha (throat lock)
  • Uddiyana Bandha (abdominal lock)
  • Mula Bandha (root lock)

Adhara Mudra or Perineal Gesture

Adhara or Perineal mudra contains the involvement of the pelvic floor area to stimulate the sacral chakra, which in turn harness sexual energy in the body. These support mudras redirect the energy into the Pingala Nadi (solar channel) of the body.

adhara-mudra
  • Vajroli/Sahajoli Mudra (thunderbolt/ spontaneous gesture)
  • Ashwini Mudra (horse gesture)
  • Maha Bheda Mudra (great separating gesture)

What to know before practicing a Mudra?

Although every single yogic gesture consists of some specific instructions to be followed, there are some points to keep in mind while or before performing any Mudra.
Hygiene should be maintained before practicing any Mudra.

  • Sukhasana, Padmasana, Vajrasana are ideal for practicing most of the Mudra.
  • Maintain any specific yogic gesture for at least 10-12 breathe counts.
  • Initially practice a Mudra for a couple of minutes and then can be extended to 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Benefits of practicing a Mudra


  • Performing Chin Mudra with meditation helps you to go deeper into the practice.
  • Mudras like Varuna and Apana improves the skin complexion and makes the skin to glow.
  • Beneficial in spiritual awakening. It channelizes Kundalini energy to higher chakras.
  • Establishes a direct link between the Annamaya kosha, Manomaya kosha and Pranamaya kosha.
  • It helps to gain Sattva guna and enhance spiritual growth.
  • Gyan Mudra improves memory power, concentration and sharpens the brain.
  • Vayu Mudra heals the Rheumatism, Arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and Spondylitis.
  • Stimulates the digestive fire which further enhances the appetite & improves metabolism.

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