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  • Not-so-zen Yogalini

Mudras: What is a Mudra, and what do you do with it?

A “mudra” is typically a symbolic hand gesture that is used in religious ceremonies, dances and in yoga. Obviously I’m not going to make you read about the religious ceremonies and dances right now, you’re reading a yoga blog – but if you were curious, Google has all the answers!

Mudras are used during meditation to channel your body’s energy flow in specific ways, depending on both the mudra and your intention whilst meditating. These mudras can also be used throughout an entire yoga session if desired e.g. if you are doing a heart opening class, using a mudra that aids this would also be extremely beneficial.

There are hundreds of different types of mudras that have been recorded over the centuries, but here are my top 5 favourites that are both easy to do and are very effective:

1) Gyan Mudra

This is probably the most common mudra – every time someone imitates a person meditating this is the mudra they subconsciously do.

In Sanskrit, “gyan” means “supreme knowledge”.

How to do: Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger, and have the other three fingers stretched outwards.

Benefits of this mudra:

- Overcomes dullness of the mind, negative thoughts, restlessness and a general lack of enthusiasm (due to the stimulation of the root chakra)

- Helps as a cure to mild headaches and diabetic flare ups

- Provides better concentration

- This mudra stimulates the pituitary gland and improves the nervous system – therefore sharpening the brain

2) Dhyana Mudra

If you’ve ever seen a statue or image of Buddha, this is the mudra you would typically see.

In Sanskrit, “dhyana” means “meditation”. This is also knows as the Yoga mudra or Samadhi mudra too.

How to do: Rest your hands in line with your navel, with the right hand on top of the left and palms facing upwards.

Benefits of this mudra:

- Aids deeper concentration

- Balances the right and left sides of the body

- Quietens the mind

- Assists with healing

- Can help bring you tranquility and inner peace

3) Prana Mudra

This is a great mudra for activating dormant energy in your body.

In Sanskrit “prana” means “life force” or “vital principle”.

How to do: Touch your ring and little fingers to the tip of your thumb, whilst keeping the other two fingers stretched outwards.

Benefits of this mudra:

- Activates the root chakra (muladhara - just in case you were curious)

- Boosts your focus

- Builds self-confidence

- Improves circulation

- Reduces insomnia

- Boosts your immune system

- Awakens and enlivens your personal prana whilst also making you more aware of the prana around you

- In Ayurvedic medicine, this mudra is known to increase kapha and decrease pitta dosha elements in the body (I will cover this topic in another blog)

4) Buddhi Mudra

If, like me, you have a lot of bizarre dreams or cannot make sense of what you’ve seen during a meditation, this mudra is for you.

In Sanskrit, “buddhi” means “intellect” or “perception”. This is also known as “Varuna mudra” (named after the Hindu god of water) or “Jal-vardhak mudra”.

How to do: touch the tip of your thumb, to the tip of your little finger, whilst keeping the other fingers stretched outwards.

Benefits of this mudra:

- Used for mental clarity

- Helps you to understand messages from your subconscious (e.g. dreams or meditations)

- Improvement of communication for both internal and external dialogue

- Develops your psychic and intuitive energies

- Provides relief from a range of ailments and diseases resulting from a lack of water in the body i.e. digestive issues/constipation; eczema and psoriasis; anemia or other blood-related issues; problems relating to the kidneys or bladder.

5) Surya Mudra

This is by far my favourite mudra. It is used for re-aligning the sun’s energy, and best of all, it is known as “the weight loss mudra”.

In Sanskrit, “surya” means “sun” and this mudra represents the energy our body gains through sunlight. The energy of the sun is a fire element, (Agni in Sanskrit), so this may also be referred to as the Agni mudra.

How to do: Bend your ring finger in towards the palm of your hand and press it down with your thumb, whilst keeping the remaining fingers stretched outwards.

Benefits of this mudra:

- Aids weight loss by enhancing the functioning of the abdominal organs and maintaining the metabolism of the body

- Increases the fire element of the body which also helps to improve vision

- Increases body temperature and relieves problems caused by cold weather e.g. painful joints, dry skin and sore throats

- Reduces cholesterol

- Reduces heaviness in the body

- Helps tackle coldness e.g. shivering and cold body parts

A word of caution: Do not do this mudra if you are already underweight or are suffering from a fever as it may exacerbate the situation.

Next time you decide to take 5 minutes to sit and reflect or meditate, why not try one of these? If you have any questions, just drop them in the comments below :)

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