Yoga Mudras: How It Works, Types with Steps & Benefits

Yoga mudras

Apart from twisting and stretching in Yoga Asanas, the easy practice of yoga mudras helps you to attain the state physical and mental equanimity.

Mechanism of yoga mudras is designed in such a way that it stimulates different brain glands by just touching fingertips in different patterns.

In this article, I summarised the secret power of Yoga Mudras & how it works on your body.

What is Yoga Mudra?

Yoga mudras are the symbolic hand, eyes & body gestures that are based on the principle of Ayurveda to heal and redirects energy in the different organs of the body.

Yoga Mudras, along with being a part of Yoga, are also a part of rituals in different traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism. Mudras in yoga are 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 but not the whole body like in Asana.

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 which represent some specific energy lies within the body.

Mudra’s role is to stimulate brain centers & directs energy flow within the body just by pressing the different combination of hand & fingers.

Mudras utilized along with the Pranayama & Meditation activities to watch the flow of Prana (life force) in the body. It is the purpose of mudra to create a closed circuit for prana.

Thus, by giving prana a space to flow freely without any physical or mental obstacle, we can alter the energy patterns in the body.

Common Yoga Mudras [Infographic]

The most popular yoga mudras comprise hand only, called hand mudras. Each hand mudra is the symbolic representation of a closed circuit of energy pattern in the body.

Types of Yoga mudras and their benefits

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 1, 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 expect that do not practice Prana Mudra and sit quietly for 5 minutes.

Result of Research

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 Yoga Mudra Works?

The working of Yoga Mudra closely related to the 5 elements lies within our body. So firstly, let’s briefly understand about 5 elements.

5 Elements of universe

This universe is made of 5 elements: Fire, Air, Ether, Earth & Water. Our physical body has the characteristics of the same 5 elements represented by 5 fingers.

5 elements in fingertips

  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 5 elements shows the effective working of body & mind. So, when there is an imbalance in 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

How Yoga Mudra works can be understood using this simple analogy.

Consider, the human body an electrical circuit in which current (energy) is flowing through wires (Nadis of the body). These wires (Nadis) connects the different parts of the electrical circuit (body organs). There are 5 main terminals (5 elements described above) of this circuit which either begin or end in hands or feet.

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

5 Types of Yoga Mudras

There are almost 399 mudras estimated among different religion.

Some mudra may envolve asana, pranayama, visualization techniques, body locks or simply hand. While in some mudras, Prana is stimulated to redirects subtle energy to upper 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
  2. Mana (Head) Mudra
  3. Hast (Hand) Mudra
  4. Bandha (Lock) Mudra
  5. Adhara (Perineal) Mudra

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 involvement of 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 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 on to energize this vital life force. It relates to the heart and soul of the person. This yoga mudra boosts the water element and the earth element in the body. Also, it decreases the fire element in the body.

It is a standout amongst the various yoga mudras as it has many advantages for wellbeing and health. Prana mudra help in eliminating the deficiency arises due to vitamin A, B, C, D, E, K  in the body.

Practicing prana mudra in a quiet room stimulates the working of 5 senses.

How to do Prana Mudra?

Bend your little finger and ring finger and press it against the tip of the thumb. Keep other two fingers (index & middle) lightly stretched or free as per your comfort. 

Time & Duration

Practice it daily for 30 – 45 minutes during the morning to energize the body & stimulates the Prana with conscious breathing.

Benefits of Prana Mudra

As working of the Prana Mudra closely associated with the root chakra, it’s beneficial to awaken the kundalini energy of the body. furthermore, Prana mudra has the following benefits.

  • Prana mudra improves the attentiveness and presence of mind ability when practiced regularly. This also helps in relieving from stress and anxiety problems
  • Optical nerves present in the tip of the little & ring finger stimulated with prana mudra thereby it’s good practice to cure vision-related problems
  • Effectively works in strengthening the immune system
  • Also, any kind of joint pain in the back or in the lower body can  be cured by the practice of prana mudra

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.    

How to do Agni Mudra?

Agni mudra can be practiced by bending the ring finger in such a way that the tip of your ring finger touches the base of your thumb. In this way, press the base of the thumb against the second phalanx of the ring finger. While keeping the other fingers straight.

Time & Duration

Practicing it 30 minutes at early hours of the morning is enough for achieving the results.

Benefits

Agni mudra raises the fire element in the body. In the meanwhile, it also reduces the earth element within the body. Thus, it maintains body temperature and enhances the vision. 

  • This mudra is the panacea for gas, acidity & any kind of stomach pain  
  • It quickens the digestion process
  • Beneficial in reducing the excessive belly fat
  • To fight against cold, use this mudra to produce heat content in the body
  • Improves the metabolic functioning hence effective in curing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus 2

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 result in toxins formation. So, the Apna Mudra helps in detoxifying the body.

How to do Apan Mudra?

To practice Apana mudra brings the tip of the ring and middle finger in contact with the tip of the thumb. keep other two fingers (index & little) lightly stretched straight.

Time & Duration

Practice the Apan mudra for 45 minutes most preferably during the morning, but you can also practice it other time of the day.

Benefits of Apan Mudra

As in Apan Vayu mudra, Ether and Earth elements unites with the fire element, it brings equanimity between upper and lower organs of the body. n

  • This mudra promotes smooth downward flowing force in the reproductive and digestive organs of the body to flush out body toxins.
  • Practicing it reduces the chances of the heart attack.
  • Apan Vayu mudra helps to get over constipation & gas related problems
  • It also cures gum & some severe dental problems

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.

How to do Chinmaya Mudra?

In this mudra, the tip of forefinger and thumb touches to form a ring, and the other three fingers rolled into the palms of the hands.

Time & Duration

The mudra can be practiced for around 45 minutes.

Benefits of Chinmaya Mudra

  • Chinmaya mudra works like a magic pill in weight loss.
  • It let consciously calm down the breathing rate
  • Promotes Prana flow to relieve the mind & improve mood

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. 

How to do Gyan Mudra?

To practice Gyan mudra, bring the tip of the index finger and thumb in contact with each other while the other 3 fingers might be just straight or free. 

Time & Duration

You can do this mudra every day for 30 minutes preferably during the early morning.

Benefits of Gyan Mudra

  • As it increases the air element in the body, hence stimulates the brain centers & pituitary gland 
  • Strengthens nervous system
  • Relaxes mind and body thus enhance concentration power
  • As the name indicates, Gyan mudra increases the level of an individual’s intelligence
  • Relieves stress and thus prevent insomnia

6. Apana Vayu Mudra – Gesture of Purification

apana vayu mudra

Apana is one among 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.

How to do Apana Vayu Mudra?

Join the tip of the thumb, middle, and ring finger while letting the forefinger reaching the root of the thumb, keep the little finger straight.

Time & Duration

You can perform it at any time of the day just for 10 minutes.

Benefits of Apana Vayu Mudra

Apana Vayu mudra manages organs including, small and large intestine, urinary system, kidneys, and reproductive systems. Doing it will generate heat in the body, relieve phlegm and help the lungs.

Also,

  • It’s also practiced as first aid in heart attack condition 3
  • It relieves from gas, constipation like 
  • Lowers the chances of heart disease
  • Good for people with high blood pressure
  • Helps in childbirth (if there is a delay in labor)

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. 

How to do Linga Mudra?

To practice this mudra, Join both palms together and interlock the fingers of both hands. Now, leave your thumb upright while it will be surrounded by the other hand’s thumb and index finger. Put a little pressure while inhaling and exhaling usually.

Time & Duration

You can practice this mudra 3 to 4 times at any time of the day. Each time hold it for 4-5 minutes.

Benefits of Linga Mudra

Linga Mudra benefits in reinforcing the heat energy in the body. Also

  • It works to build up strength against cold, cough & asthma. 
  • This mudra clears the mucus & phlegm from the lungs.
  • Increases metabolism & so the effective in weight reducing

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, that is the governing energy related to the waste removal and nervous system.

How to do Shunya Mudra?

To practice Shunya Mudra, bend the tip of the middle finger down touching the base of the thumb. Now, gently press the thumb on the second phalanx of the middle finger while other fingers held straight.

Time & Duration

One can practice it 2-3 times at any time of the day. Keep holding the fingers in this mudra for 15 minutes each time is a good practice to mindfulness.

Benefits of Shunya Mudra

  • Shunya mudra excellently works for the people suffering from deafness due to age or some disease
  • As this mudra closely related to ether element in the body, it is helpful in thyroid curing   
  • Shunya mudra is especially helpful while meditating.

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.

How to do Adi Mudra?

Firstly, make a fist with your fingers. Now, put your thumb (of the same hand) within this fist such that it touches the bottom of the little finger.

Breathing ratio for this mudra is – Inhale: Hold in: Exhale: Hold out is 4:3:6:3

Time & Duration

One can perform Adi mudra for 6-7 times in a day. Each time hold the fingers in the pose for 4-5 minutes.   

Benefits of Adi Mudra

Practicing this mudra will help you in the following:

  • calms the mind and nervous system
  • opens the higher nodes of the lungs
  • reduces snoring
  • improves the oxygen flow in the head

10. Rudra Mudra

rudra mudra in yoga mudras

The name Rudra associated with Lord Shiva as it has the 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. 

How to do Rudra Mudra?

Touch your thumb with ring finger and index finger and keep your other two fingers (middle and little finger) as straight as possible.

Time & Duration

This mudra can be practiced 3 times a day for 5 minutes each time. While practicing it, bring your awareness to the navel region and breath deeply. 

Benefits of Rudra Mudra

As Rudra mudra influence the working of the earth element in the body, it benefits mainly associated with stomach organs. 

  • This mudra builds heat in the body which further improves the digestion process
  • Increase the will power, creativity, and clears mental obstacle when performed with focus at Manipura chakra
  • Good practice for strengthening the frontal brain region. Also relaxes the eyes muscles

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 water element in the body imbalanced. Balancing the water percentage in the body can heal the problems associated with indigestion like gas & acidity.

How to do Varun Mudra?

With a very gentle press, bring the tip of the little finger in contact with the thumb. Keep the other three fingers in a straight and relaxed position.

Duration

Perform Varun mudra for 20 – 30 minutes and the best time will be in morning hours.

Benefits of Varun Mudra

Therefore, intestinal problems can be solved by constant practice of this mudra. Practice Varun mudra when suffering from the following conditions:

  • Problems like urination arise from dehydration can be fixed with the regular practice of this mudra 
  • People with dry skin, itching or acne problems can practice this mudra to cure any skin disorders.
  • Dryness in throat, eyes, or mouth
  • Indigestion & constipation 

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.

Back mudra is more effective if done in combination with meditation.

How to do Back Mudra?

This mudra performed with both hands performing different gestures. For left hand let the tip of the thumb, ring, and middle fingers touch each other. And extend the ring finger towards the little finger.

For right hand put your thumb tip on the index finger’s nail, then extend all other fingers outwards.

Time & Duration

Do this mudra for 5 – 7 minutes at any time of the day.

Benefits of Back Mudra

As the name suggests this mudra aids in getting rid of the intolerable back pain. This mudra treats both upper as well as lower back pains.

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. (As it’ll absorb energy in hands from 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.

There are the following health benefits of Mudra.

  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.

How much time does Mudra take to Heal?

When you decide to practice a Yoga Mudra for a particular health issue, follow it consistently for a few weeks or even months. A Yogi 4 from India uses the healing power of mudra for therapeutic treatments of sexual, back pain & asthma patients. As it takes several months or years for a severe ailment to develop, thus, Yoga Mudra can take a few weeks but regular and consistent practice must be obeyed.

Conclusion

Yoga mudra is a subtler but 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. Classification of Electrophotonic Images of Yogic Practice of Mudra through Neural Networks [source]
  2. Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes [source]
  3. hand mudra effect on cardiac and neurological parameters in preventing heart attack [source]
  4. Ancient Healing Rediscovered [source]

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