Mudras are the positions that you hold firmly with your hands and/or fingers during various prayer, meditation and yoga practices. The word literally means to “seal,” originating from the ancient Sanskrit language and symbolizes the act of “sealing” or “keeping close” your wishes or intentions.
Placing your hands together in prayer is perhaps the most common mudra that can be noted in a variety of religions and spiritual practices, symbolizing the union between the body and the spirit as well as the connection between the heart and the heavens, amongst other meanings. Many don’t realize that they are performing a mudra naturally when they place the tips of their fingers together (hakini mudra). We see this often when someone is talking or thinking about something, as a way of relaxing or gaining concentration.
While mudras are generally associated with the position of the hands, in reality, they involve the whole body, as is evident in one of the most commonly recognized mudras that is formed by touching your index finger with your thumb (gyan mudra) while resting your hands on your knees in a cross legged position. Likewise, some yoga practices include different hand mudras to seal the intention of the full body asana (position) while applying specific breathing techniques.
Mudras can be done at anytime of the day, while waiting at an airport, contemplating a sunset or during a time of scheduled meditation. The most important thing is to hold it firmly for several minutes or longer. 15 minutes minimum is advisable and can also be included as part of a ritual or yoga practice. It also has more force and power if all the fingers in both hands participate rather than doing it with a single hand.
Some examples of the most common mudras to get you started:
Finger and Thumb Mudras
These mudras can be performed while walking, sitting, lying down or standing. It’s believed to have an effect on balancing your energy, making you more comfortable, relaxed, revitalized and calmer. Each finger has a particular effect. If performed while sat cross legged, you can also change the intensity of the mudra by facing your palms upwards or downward. When your palms are faced downwards, you are bring a more calming sensation; when faced upwards you will become more energized.
a) Thumb and index finger
This mudra has a calming effect and makes the mind sharper leading to a more focused concentration. It is related to the root chakra at the base of the spine helping you to raise energy from the lower part of the body upwards towards your third eye and crown chakra.
b) Thumb and middle finger
This mudra is supposed to help develop greater patience, connecting your mind and your solar plexus. It is also supposed to help detoxify the body.
c) Thumb and ring finger
When you hold the thumb and ring finger together during meditation, this is intended to give you more stamina and energy as well as increased self-confidence.
d) Thumb and little finger
The little finger (pinky) is related to the planet Mercury and communication. Holding this mudra is supposed to make you more attune with your inner feeling and thoughts.
This is a very common mudra that is unknowingly practiced by many people when they are thinking or in deep concentration. It’s when the tips of fingers in both hands correspondingly touch each other. Believed to sharpen the mind and gives better concentration.
Padma Mudra / Lotus Mudra
This mudra is formed by touching the thumb and little finger from each hand and opening up the other fingers like a flower in bloom. Keep it steady and hold your hands close to your heart. You may also move the mudra upwards as if making an offering to the heavens.