If I ask you what’s the most common practice we do in yoga, whether it’s a sitting asana a breathing technique or meditation, the answer will be a common “hand gesture” we make in all these practices.
Gyan Mudra is one of the most practiced “hand gestures” we use while many yogic practiaces. The only reason behind its dominant use is its capability to bound mind in one place.
But before we dive deep into how this gesture works, do you know what exactly “hand mudras” mean in yoga?
Hand Mudras – A Closed Seal of Fingers
In simple words, when you touch fingers with each other in a specific pattern it stimulates some specific portion of the brain. These specific patterns of fingers are called hand mudras.
Apart from yoga, in many traditions, like Buddhism & Hinduism, these hand mudras are used in different rituals as symbolic gestures. Here you can learn more about 20 common yoga mudras that worth practicing.
Gyan Mudra – The Mudra of Knowledge
Gyana Mudra is a mystic position of the thumb and index finger depicting a gesture of supreme knowledge. Since it’s practised with the help of the hands, therefore, it is a type of Hand Gesture (Hasta mudra) in yoga.
In Hatha yoga texts, Gyan mudra is described most effective hand gesture that works on uniting the human soul to the ultimate supreme soul.
Meaning of Gyan Mudra
Gyan or Gyana is a Sanskrit word that refers to ‘Knowledge’ or ‘Wisdom’ & mudra means ‘Gesture’ or ‘Symbol’.
Thus, the symbolization of Gyana mudra is to acceptance of one’s knowledge and excites wisdom. Hence at the last state of this mudra, astounding cryptic power radiates that creates a sense of enlightenment and apprehension.
Gyan mudra helps to enhance focus and concentration of mind, which leads a yogi to the deep meditative stage. It is the reason this mudra also called the Dhyan mudra.
Physically, among five elements of the body, Gyan mudra mainly works on increasing the Vayu (air) element inside the body. Increased air helps the brain to work more efficiently 1. Thus, Gyan mudra is also known as Vayu-vardhak mudra.
Other names of Gyan mudra are Dhyan mudra, Vayu-vardhak mudra, Jnana mudra and Chin mudra.
How to Do Gyan Mudra
Gyan mudra is one of the easiest and most used mudras. To perform it, you need to touch the tip of the index finger with the tip of the thumb. Leave the rest of the fingers at ease.
To perform this mudra in a yoga session, you can follow the following steps.
Steps to Perform Gyan Mudra in Yoga
- Sit in a comfortable posture (Sukhasana, Padmasana or any meditative posture). You might practice it in a standing pose (Mountain pose) if you are unable to sit down.
- Hold your back, chest, and head in a straight position.
- Relax your whole body and place your hands on your knees in an upward direction.
- Now fold the index finger of both of hand towards the thumb & join the tip of your index finger with the tip of the thumb. Leave the remaining three fingers extended.
- Maintain the same arrangement of fingers and put your hands on your knees facing in the upward direction.
- Relax and close your eyes softly and concentrate on your breath. Inhale and exhale deeply to seep air into the deepest tissues of your body to attain a sense of lightness in your Chitta (or consciousness).
- Clear all the thoughts in your mind and listen to the vibes of your body. Do not avoid what your soul tries to express you rather face it and harmonise it in yourself.
- You can chant a mantra or “Om” while exhaling deeply for an ecstatic effect.
A sequence of Mudras for Gyan Mudra
For better results, a simple mudra can always be practiced along with some preparatory & follow up mudras. Here is the preparatory & follow up mudra sequence for Gyan mudra:
1. Preparatory Mudras
- Anjali Mudra: It’s a best practice to begin any yogic practice with Anjali mudra, commonly known as Namaste. Here are the proper steps to perform Anjali mudra.
1. Follow Up Mudras
- Prana Mudra: Prana in the body is the cause of the movement of our breath. After performing Gyan mudra, we can always recharge our Prana with prana mudra. Here are steps to do prana mudra.
Variations of Gyan Mudra
There are many different forms of Gyan mudra based on hand positions. The benefits of the mudra change according to where we kept our hands in the practice.
- Dhyan Gyan mudra – Concentration gesture
- Purna Gyan mudra – Full wisdom gesture
- Abhaya mudra – Fearlessness gesture
- Gyan vairagya mudra – Detachment gesture
1. Dhyan Mudra
Dhyan Mudra is very beneficial to progress in the path of meditation. This mudra increases concentration and focus. Here are the steps to do dhyana mudra.
In Buddism, it is believed that it was practiced by Gautama Buddha 2 during his meditation for the enlightenment, beneath the bodhi tree.
2. Purna Gyan Mudra
As its name suggests, Purna Gyan mudra enlightens one about full knowledge and wisdom. It is said that Lord Buddha was in this mudra while he got the “ultimate wisdom”. Therefore, this mudra is also known as ” The Provider of Wisdom”.
3. Abhaya Mudra
In our life, we are afraid of things such as negative energy, phobias, and nightmares. Abhay mudra (gesture of fearlessness) evolves fearlessness in our mind and makes us free from such fears.
Here is the procedure to do Abhaya mudra. First, you need to be in the same posture as Gyan mudra. Now, twist the right hand’s elbow, move at the shoulder level and keep the palm open. Leave left hand as in Gyan mudra.
4. Gyan Vairagya Mudra
This mudra evolves the sense of detachment from the physical world, helps to get on the spiritual path.
If you want to practice this mudra, make the posture of Gyan mudra with your hands. Now, just place your both hands on your thighs, maintaining the same hand posture.
Ideal Time of Practice & Duration
It is best to perform Gyan mudra for 30-45 minutes each day. You can also do this mudra in 3 shifts of 15 minutes.
According to research 3, you must perform Gyan mudra, at least 20 minutes a day for best results.
Morning time is the best time to perform Gyan mudra. Still, you can practise this mudra at any time of the day.
Scientific Aspect of Gyan Mudra
As we know every finger in our hand is associated with some energy. It is believed that the index finger is related to the planet Jupiter (guru) 4 which in Hinduism, is a symbol of wisdom and devotion.
Moreover, the index finger contains the energy of the Air element. Index finger carries the energy of Chitta (consciousness) and spiritual powers.
When the index finger touches the thumb, a closed-loop circuit is generated in the left, and right hands & corresponding air element of index finger gets balanced. This closed-loop allow the energy combined with the elemental and spiritual entities of the thumb and index finger. Further, closed-loop wouldn’t let dissipate energy into the environment instead let it travel back through the body and up to the brain.
Thus, the balance of the air element in the body leads to good mental health.
Along with this, our fingertips have a direct relationship with the brain. Many points of the brain are present in the index fingers. The acupressure of these points helps in the mind’s function.
Benefits of Gyan Mudra
Gyana mudra is beneficial for physical, mental as well as spiritual development in yoga. It benefits the body and mind in the following ways.
- Heals Kapha and Pitta Dosha
Gyan mudra is very helpful for those having Pitta and Kapha Dosha. The air element is deficient in these Doshas.
When we practice Gyan mudra, it works on the growth of air element in the body. Thus, regular practise of this mudra helps to subdue the deficiency causes Kapha & pitta dosha.
- Makes Mind Sharp and Healthy
As Gyan mudra itself is a concentrative practice, thus it encourages the nervous system to improve its functions.
Once the nervous system starts functioning at its optimum level, our mind also performs better.
This mechanism creates a sharp and healthy mind.
- Improvers Pituitary Gland’s Function
The pituitary gland is the master gland of our brain. It stimulates other glands to release hormones. Different points of this gland are located on the tip of the thumb and index finger.
Gyan mudra includes the gentle press of these points. This help in making the pituitary gland healthy and well functioning.
Thus it prevents diseases caused by unhealthy pituitary gland like Hypoadrenalism (thyroid gland), Hypothyroidism (deficiency of parathyroid hormone), Hypoadrenalism (adrenal glands) 5
- Improves Brain’s Health
Conditions like Sleeping disorders, anxiety, recklessness, mental insanity occurs due to unrelaxed and ill brain.
Gyan mudra forms the proper flow of air. The adequate supply of air helps the brain to be relaxed and flexible.
Along with this, this flow of air promotes creative thinking and an excellent memory.
- Simulates Root Chakra
Gyan mudra helps in stimulation of root chakra. In this mudra, we apply the pressure on specific meridian points of fingers, which clears all the troubles arriving on the way of energy flow to the root chakra.
Side Effects & Precautions of Gyan Mudra
Gyan mudra mainly increases air element in our body. Therefore, if you are facing gas problems in the stomach or difficulty in food digestion, this mudra might show some ill effects.
Here are some precautions you should take care while doing this mudra:
- Wear comfortable clothes while practising this mudra. Uneasy cloths might disturb you in concentration.
- In Vata dosha, the air element is already present. This mudra increases the quantity of air element in the body. Therefore, if you have Vata dosha, perform this mudra moderately.
- Air Element: Too Much or Too Little https://www.liveabout.com/air-element-too-much-too-little-206670
- who is Gautama Buddha https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gautama_Buddha
- mudra time duration https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5934951/
- every finger in your hand is connected to a planet https://wisdom.srisriravishankar.org/fingers-connected-to-planet/
- pituitary gland https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pituitary_gland