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Tears were rolling down my cheek as I was holding up both of my hands, thumb touching my ring finger on both sides while I was following Gabby Bernstein’s guided meditation a few years back.
That was when I started to become fascinated by the power of mudras.
Later on I got to practice mudras again when I was learning about Bhakti Yoga, and have since then incorporated mudras in my own daily meditation practice.
I’m someone who learns through experience, so of course I need to test this out on myself before I can share more about it.
I’ve been practicing mudras along side with my mantra meditation for three years now, and I can safely say that mudras really do add to my daily practice. Sometimes I don’t feel much, but sometimes I can feel energy currents being activated. At times I feel extra grounded, at times I can feel the fiery energy, and at times I can feel divine love and grace flowing into my heart.
So in today’s blog I’d like to share with what a mudra is, how does it work, and 3 easy meditation mudras that you can try at home.
Mudra is a Sanskrit word that means a “seal”.
There are five classes of mudras in the Hatha Yoga tradition, including hasta (hand), mana (head), kaya (postural), bandha (lock), and adhara (base or perineal).
In this blog I’ll be focusing on hasta mudras, or hand gestures. Mudras are specific hand gestures that we can hold during meditation to activate the flow of energy in our body.
In the traditional Indian medicine Ayurvedic point of view, we have thousands of nadis, or energy channels, flowing inside our body.
As we hold specific hand gestures, we are forming certain energy “closed circuits” which are like energy “seals”, so to speak, that can help us plug in to the quality of what the mudra represents.
We as humans have always used our hands to express our feelings and emotions since the dawn of time. Whether it’s through hand gestures when we talk, giving a hug to someone we love, lending a hand as a symbol of help, or flicking the middle finger to express our rage.
It’s no surprise here when we recognize that our hands are actually extension of our heart chakra, the energy center situated in the middle of our chest that is all about unconditional love.
The heart chakra is also associated with the element of air (vayu), and the element of air links the invisible to the visible. Consider this – when the wind blows, we can see the trees and leaves dance with the wind but we can’t see the wind physically. The presence of the wind can be only felt by our sense of touch and skin.
To me, that means that when we hold a specific hand mudra, we are getting in touch with the energies that cannot be seen with the physical eyes through our hearts.
Mudras are powerful keys that can help us unlock inner states of awareness and awaken specific qualities and/or elements within us.
1. Prithivi Mudra (Earth element mudra)
This is my favorite mudra to use when I want to feel more grounded, as it helps to connect and balance the Earth element which is within us. It can also help to strengthen the digestion system and establish a sense of effortless joy.
How to hold the mudra:
Lightly touch the tips of the thumb and ring finger together forming a circle, and stretch out the other fingers in a relaxed manner.
2. Dhyana mudra (Meditation mudra)
This is a commonly used mudra in many spiritual traditions in Asia such as Buddhism. It is a mudra to help with meditation and contemplation, and to release attachments.
How to hold the mudra:
Place the left palm facing up on your lap, and rest your right palm facing up on top of your left hand. Touch the thumbs together gently to form a circle. Rest your hands on your lap with your shoulders relaxed, or you can also place a blanket over your lap to support your hands.
3. Jnana or Chin mudra (Wisdom mudra)
This is the most commonly seen mudra used in yoga and meditation photos, where jnana refers to wisdom. The name chin comes from the Sanskrit word chit, meaning consciousness.
Please note that sometimes Jnana mudra or Chin mudra look identical and can be used interchangeably, and in some schools of yoga, it is explained as Jnana mudra is practiced with palm facing up when the sun rises and Chin mudra is practiced with palm facing down after the sun is set.
Both mudras can help us feel lighter and calmer, more centered and grounded.
How to hold the mudra:
Lightly touch the tip of the thumb and the index finger together forming a circle, stretch out the other fingers and relax your hands on your knees.
It is easy to incorporate mudras in your sitting meditation practice. But even if you don’t sit still in meditation, you can also incorporate mudras as you are practicing yoga poses, or even when you are traveling on a plane or commuting on a long train ride.
1. Warm up your hands before practice
Practicing mudras are like doing yoga with your hands. You can warm up your hands by taking a deep breath in, retain your breath and clap your hands three times loudly and firmly till you feel tingling sensations in your palms and release the breath. Then, rub your hands together until they are warm. You can also rub the other parts of your hands to help stimulate blood circulation to your entire hands and fingers.
2. Sit comfortably (or stand)
Traditionally, mudras are practiced during sitting meditation. Whether you decide to sit on the floor or on a chair, it is important to sit up tall and keep your spine lengthened, roll your shoulders back, and keep both feet on the ground if you’re sitting on a chair. Relax your face and chest, and if you’re sitting on the floor and need more support for your back, you can lean against a wall. You can also practice while standing or walking, as long as your posture is comfortable.
It is important to note that similar to a yoga asana practice, it is recommended not to practice mudra and meditation on a full stomach.
3. Be gentle with your fingers
Some mudras may feel tiring the longer you hold them, and they may be challenging to the finger joints. Be gentle with your fingers, just like you would with your body during your asana practice.
4. Bring awareness to your fingers and hands and focus on the sensations
Usually it takes at least 5 minutes of holding a mudra to start feeling its energetic qualities. Depending on the mudra you are holding, it is recommended to hold at least 5 minutes up to 45 minutes.
When you are holding a mudra, bring your awareness to your fingers and hands, and focus on feeling any sensations or feelings that may arise. You may start to feel the energy in your hands activated and as you are meditating, you can feel the energy flow directed to your entire being.
Whenever you find yourself starting to wander in your mind, a mudra is also a great way to bring focus back to your meditation by bringing your attention back to your sense of touch.
Mudras are an easy-to-follow and powerful technique that you can incorporate into your daily meditation practice. It’s also a great way to introduce meditation to children.
In today’s blog I shared with you 3 easy meditation mudras to try at home:
- Prithivi Mudra (Earth element mudra)
- Dhyana mudra (Meditation mudra)
- Jnana or Chin mudra (Wisdom mudra)
Here is the overview of the general tips on how to meditate a mudra in meditation:
- Warm up your hands before practice
- Sit comfortably (or stand)
- Be gentle with your fingers
- Do not practice on full stomach
- Hold the mudra for at least 5 minutes up to 45 minutes, depending on the function of the mudra
- Bring awareness to your fingers and hands
- Focus on the sensations arising as you hold mudra
I hope you will also get to try mudra out and experience its benefit.
Have you tried practicing mudra during your meditation or yoga practice? If so how did you feel?
Feel free to share and contact me directly here.
- Cain Carroll and Revital Carroll, Mudras of India, (UK, Singing Dragon, 2013)
- Nubia Teixeira, Yoga and the Art of Mudras, (USA, Mandala Publihsing, 2019)
2 x online live workshops on Saturdays
Mantra is a Sanskrit word that means “tool of the mind and a sacred formula”. Every sound of a mantra can elicit a certain vibration and invoke divine qualities that are within us. As we repeat the same sound over and over, we can harmonize our energy with the same frequency to re-awaken and remember our divine nature.
Chanting mantras is a very powerful form of meditation with sound. Every mantra invites us to remember and reconnect with the divine qualities that are already within us. As we chant and sing these mantras, we open our minds to pay attention to our heart’s wisdom.
In this one-week mantra meditation challenge, we will learn the mantra to get into the flow of creativity, embodied by the energy of the Goddess Saraswati – the Goddess of creativity, speech, music, arts, studies, intuition, and wisdom.
In the two Saturday online live workshops, we will learn the mantra and the story of the Goddess Saraswati, practice meditation and chant together. Those who attend will also get a chance to share your experience.
In the other weekdays, we will be practicing japa (repetition of the mantra) and mudra (hand gesture) as our daily meditation practice. There will also be simple daily exercises that invite you to delve deeper into the qualities related to the mantra, such as journaling and setting intention.
If you want to learn and experience the magic of mantra in your daily life, this one-week challenge is for you.