How Mudras Work, Practicing Guide with Scientifically Proven Benefits

Yoga mudras

Yoga mudras stimulate different brain glands & direct energy flow within the body by just touching fingertips in different patterns. Believe me or not but it’s 100% authentic, based on different scientific research on Mudras (which I have mentioned in this article).

Being a Yoga teacher, In this article, I have explained the secret power of yoga mudras, its effect on human body, practicing guide and different benefits. I have also created an infographic on 9 top effective yoga mudras with easy & accurate steps.

What is Yoga Mudra?

Yoga mudra is the symbolic hand, eyes & body gesture which is based on the principle of Ayurveda to heal and redirects energy in the different organs of the body. The most popular yoga mudras comprise hands only, also called hand mudras. Each hand mudra is the symbolic representation of a closed circuit of energy patterns in the body.

Mudras, along with being a part of Yoga, are also a part of rituals in different traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism 1. Mudras practices in conjunction with Pranayama and Meditation to redirects the flow of life-force (Prana).

Yoga mudra is a very similar practice like Asana except that most of the mudra comprises the hand pose. Let’s understand…

Asana – The physical Pose
Mudra – The Finger or Hand Pose

Mudra comprises ‘Mud’ means ‘Delight’ & ‘Ra’ means ‘Produce’.

The literal meaning of mudra is ‘seal’, ‘gesture’ or ‘mark’. The ‘gesture’ of hand, face, finger or other body organs that represent some specific energy lies within the body.

Common Yoga Mudras [Infographic]

yoga mudras steps & benefits infographic

Research on Yoga Mudras

To detect changes in the energy patterns of the body after practicing the yoga mudra, ‘Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Karnataka, India’ had conducted research.

This research was based on the EPI technique (Electrophotonic imaging). Through this technique, we can measure the coronal discharge (electron capturing) around a specific surface of the body.

In this research 2, 61 volunteers divided into 2 groups namely ‘control’ & ‘mudra’ group. In Mudra Group, volunteers were said to practice Prana Mudra for 5 minutes. On the other hand, similar instructions were given to the control group to expect that they do not practice Prana Mudra and sit quietly for 5 minutes.

Result of Research

The results of this research were recorded in terms of EPI parameters like Normalized area, Average intensity & Entropy by putting fingers on the glass surface of EPI equipment.

It was seen in the result ‘mudra’ group has an increased effect size for the 3 parameters as compared to the control group. This increase in effect size proved yoga mudra is able to stimulate & redirects energy patterns of the body.

How does Yoga Mudra work?

5 elements in fingertips

The working of Yoga Mudra closely related to the 5 elements lies within our body.

5 Elements of universe

There are 3 qualities in the universe which combines to develop 5 elements: Fire, Air, Ether, Earth & Water. Our physical body has the characteristics of the same 5 elements represented by 5 fingers.

  1. Thumb – Fire or Universal consciousness
  2. Index finger – Air or Individual consciousness
  3. Middle finger – Ether or Connection
  4. Ring finger – Earth or Physical sensation
  5. Little finger – Water or Flowdity

A balanced state of these 5 elements shows the effective working of body & mind. So, when there is an imbalance in these 5 elements, it can result in a disruption in mind and body to experience the ill effects of diseases.

When thumb (fire element) bought in contact with any of the 4 fingers (other 4 elements), it means these 4 elements have come in a balanced state.

An Analogy to understand Yoga Mudra working

Consider, the human body an electric circuit in which current (energy) is flowing through wires (Nadis/nerves of the body).

These nerves connect the different parts of the electrical circuit (body organs). There are 5 main terminals of this circuit which either begin or end in hands or feet.

When you hold or press a particular finger in yoga mudra, the corresponding energy center or gland stimulates in the brain (Power supplier of the circuit). In this way, the brain receives a signal to alter the energy pattern within the body by regulating the Prana flow.

5 types of Yoga Mudras

There are almost 399 mudras estimated among different religions.

Some mudras may involve Yoga Asana, Pranayama, visualization techniques, body locks or simply hand. While in some mudras, stimulating of Prana redirects subtle energy to 7 major chakras, or sometimes it calms down to concentrate in a meditative posture.

In a nutshell, all the yoga mudras can be categorized into the following 5 types.

1. Kaya (postural) Mudra

Kaya mudras are similar to asana practice when performed in conjunction with simple mudras. It requires intense concentration to hold the body in a particular asana (or pranayama) & mudra.

Example – Manduki Mudra, Pashinee Mudra

2. Mana (Head) Mudra

Head mudras comprise the practice to focus the mind in meditation (mainly in kundalini yoga). These mudras require the involvement of sense organs (eyes, nose, tongue, lips & ears). Head mudras are so powerful that it can snap out us from instinctive habits (which become an obstacle in meditation) even in short periods.

Example – Shambhavi Mudra, Khechari Mudra, Kaki Mudra, Bhoochari Mudra

3. Hast (Hand) Mudra

These are the most common mudras performed using different positioning of thumb, fingers & hand. It works on the characteristics of 5 universal elements.

Example – Gyan Mudra, Prana Mudra, Surya Mudra

4. Bandha (Lock) Mudra

These mudras utilize the engagement of subtle skeletal muscles (vocal, respiratory & pelvis) to hold the Prana. This Prana holding awakens the kundalini energy in the body.

Example – Jalandhara Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, Mula Bandha, Maha Mudra

5. Adhara (Perineal) mudra

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.

Practicing Adhara Mudra helps energy to redirects into the solar channel (Pingala Nadi) of the body.

Example – Vajroli Mudra, Ashwini Mudra, Maha Bheda Mudra

12 Top Hasta (Hand) Yoga Mudras

Let’s discuss the most common hand mudras used in yogic practice. You can use these mudras during meditation & Pranayama practice to concentrate the mind.

1. Prana Mudra – Gesture of Energy

prana mudra

Prana symbolizes the vital life force which is responsible for maintaining a natural balance in the body.  This mudra works to energize this vital life force. It relates to the heart and soul of the person. Click here for Prana Mudra steps (how to do in the right way ), time duration and Prana Mudra benefits.

2. Agni/Surya Mudra – Gesture of Heat

surya mudra

The gesture of this mudra assists in discharging of energy locked within the body and regulating its reflexes and flow to the brain. As the name suggests, Surya Mudra is associated with solar energy in the body. Click here for Agni/Surya Mudra steps (how to do in the right way ), time duration and Surya Mudra benefits.

3. Apana Mudra – Gesture of Life Force

apana mudra

We all know that toxins are quite dangerous to the body. When we consume food, some portion of it remains unprocessed and this results in toxins formation. So, the Apna Mudra helps in detoxifying the body. Click here for Apana Mudra steps (how to do in the right way ), time duration and Apana Mudra benefits.

4. Chinmaya Mudra – Gesture of Awareness

chinmaya mudra

Chinmaya Mudra is one of the powerful mudras to cure physical and mental well-being. The Chinmaya Mudra is also known as the Gesture of Awareness.

The use of this yoga mudra is supposed to draw awareness to the body which aids in keeping the mind and body healthy. Through this mudra, the prana energy and the awareness of the breath flow smoothly into the body thus, treating the physical body to stay in balance. Click here for Chinmaya Mudra steps (how to do in the right way), time duration and Chinmaya Mudra benefits.

5. Gyan/Chin Mudra – Gesture of Knowledge

gyan mudra

Gyan Mudra is a powerful mudra practiced by yogis for thousands of years that bring calmness along with spiritual development. It is the most common and highly practiced mudra which enhances the level of air in the body. 

Known as the “mudra of knowledge,” it implies the most accessible version of the self. So, you can control your life lessons by ease and calm. The other names of Gyan mudra are Chin (consciousness) mudra & Vayu-vardhak (air element booster) mudra. It associates with the planet Jupiter. Click here for Gyan/Chin Mudra steps (how to do in the right way), time duration and Gyan Mudra benefits.

6. Apana Vayu Mudra – Gesture of Purification

apana vayu mudra

Apana is one of 5 Prana Vayus of the body which flows in the downward direction. This mudra is practiced to balance the proportion of Apana Vayu in the body.

This mudra is also called the purification mudra. Apana Vayu Mudra is intended to enhance the function of Apana Vayu and its related organs of elimination. It benefits in increasing the balance of the ether element and earth element within the body. Click here for Apana Vayu Mudra steps (how to do in the right way), time duration and Apana Vayu Mudra benefits.

7. Linga Mudra – Gesture of Shiva

linga mudra

The shape made in this mudra resembles the phallus shape so it is called Linga (Sanskrit term for phallus) mudra. Linga mudra symbolizes the fire element which presents in the thumb. It generates heat in the body and can result in sweating even during winter times if done for an extended period. Click here for Linga Mudra steps (how to do in the right way), time duration and Linga Mudra benefits.

8. Shunya Mudra – Gesture of Void

shunya mudra

This mudra is a comfortable yoga posture meant to reduce the akasha – space element in the body. Shunya mudra is also recognized as heaven mudra, and routine practice of it can help to enjoy a level of peace. 

The mudra is useful to those with a dominant Vata, which is the governing energy related to the waste removal and nervous system. Click here for Shunya Mudra steps (how to do in the right way), time duration and Shunya Mudra benefits.

9. Adi Mudra – Gesture of Primal

adi mudra

Another meaning of this mudra is ‘energy seal’ because the energy generated through this mudra can be utilized for future activities. This yoga mudra is used to quiet and calm the mind. In physical terms, Adi Mudra helps in healing and balancing the sense organs. Click here for Adi Mudra steps (how to do in the right way), time duration and Adi Mudra benefits.

10. Rudra Mudra

rudra mudra in yoga mudras

The name Rudra associated with Lord Shiva as it has internal transformative capacities. This hand gesture influences your personal energy core i.e. the solar plexus (Manipura Chakra). It’s supposed to enhance concentration and clarity of thought. This mudra is a powerful means to reduce excessive tension and pain. Click here for Rudra Mudra steps (how to do in the right way), time duration and Rudra Mudra benefits.

11. Varun Mudra – Gesture of Water

varun-mudra in yoga mudras

Water has a crucial role in the wellness and health of the human body. Varun Mudra is also known as water mudra, so this mudra is helpful in case the water element in the body imbalanced. Balancing the water percentage in the body can heal the problems associated with indigestion like gas & acidity. Click here for Varun Mudra steps (how to do in the right way), time duration and Varun Mudra benefits.

12. Back Mudra

back mudra in yoga mudras

This hand mudra acts in a manner that assists in stabilizing the energies in the body. It is the finger movement that aims at getting rid of the pain. Back mudra contains the healing properties. It works effectively for someone having a weak back or due to prolonged activities like sitting and cleaning for long. Click here for Back Mudra steps (how to do in the right way), time duration and Back Mudra benefits.

Yoga Mudras Practicing Guide

Every single yoga mudra comprises some specific instruction to practice it but some common things we should take care of while or before practicing any yoga mudra.

  1.  Before practicing any yoga mudra (especially hand mudras), completely wash your hands with sanitizer and dry hands-off.
  2. Most of the mudra practiced while sitting comfortably in Sukhasana, Padmasana, Vajrasana or even you can sit on the chair if not comfortable with Asanas
  3. Now make the bowl shape with your hands & place them near the navel for a while. It’ll energize hands from energy of Manipura chakra).
  4. Press fingertips with enough pressure to feel energy flow effectively in yoga mudra but not enough to whiten fingertips
  5. While you practicing any specific mudra, hold the mudra position for at least 12 breath counts & bring complete focus on breathing.
  6. Mudra’s working efficiency increases with ‘time to hold’ it. Practice a mudra for a couple of minutes initially and later on expand time up to 15-20 minutes.

Benefits of Yoga Mudras

Mudras are the most simple practice in yoga to approach a healthy & connective body-mind system. Practicing a mudra doesn’t require many efforts like an Asana or Pranayama rather it brings stability in the body-mind system by connecting 2 energy points of the body.

  1. Practicing several mudras (Prana, Vyana) on a regular basis can improve the vision 
  2. Mudras (Chin) while practicing meditation help you to go deeper in the practice & increases the staying power to remain in it
  3. Some yoga mudra (Varun) can even reduce the dehydration in the body just by pressing fingertips
  4. Mudras (Surya, Prana) can treat the common cold by dominating the flow of solar energy over lunar energy
  5. The practice of mudra (Varun, Apana) betters the skin health & brings glow at the face.
  6. Mudra stimulates the digestion fire which further increases the appetite & improves the digestion system
  7.  Mudras are beneficial in spiritual awakening. It channelizes kundalini energy to higher chakras
  8. Surya and Linga mudra work like a magic pill in weight loss.

Conclusion

Yoga mudra is a subtler but a vital part of yoga. In hatha yoga, mudras are practiced only after the proficiency in Asana, Pranayama & bandha. Mudra associated with the changing mental and spiritual features of an individual. This change through mudra lets channelize the internal energy by affecting sensory glands, veins & organs of the body.

References

  1. Mudras ritual context https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Mudra
  2. Classification of Electrophotonic Images of Yogic Practice of Mudra through Neural Networks [source]

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