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Yoga in your hands! 3 Hand Mudras to aid focus.

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

In a Yoga Practice, you might be asked to take certain positions with your hands - quite often this is hands in prayer at your heart space or resting your hands on your knees, palms up, with the thumbs touching, like in the image below.

When you ask children, and even some adults, what they think Yoga is, they automatically make these widely-known hand gestures, as though saying 'this is Yoga', and that is sort of true.... You can use your hands to help with the practice of Yoga!

I wanted to dive a little deeper into the meaning of these hand gestures, so that when you come to practice, and if you're invited to adopt these hand positions, you have more understanding of why you are doing it and the importance behind these Sacred gestures.

In Sanskrit they are called 'HASTA MUDRA', which means sacred hand gesture or seal, and they are used in Meditation and Yoga Asana to help seal in your Life Force Energy, known as Prana, and redirect the flow of Prana around your body. Think of it like a circuit board! It is thought that Prana can dissipate out through your fingertips, so when the fingers are connected, the circuit is complete and the Prana stays within your body, helping to rejuvenate, energise, support your system and overall wellbeing.

There are lots of different types of Mudras but most commonly you’ll see or practice Hasta Mudra in a Yoga class. So let's look at three Hasta Mudras that you can use during your practice, and their meanings.

Hasta Mudras are an excellent tool for aiding focus, deepening your concentration and bringing more balance to your practice, during Meditation and Yoga Asana.

1. Chin Mudra - The gesture of Consciousness

This is the most well known & most important Mudra, used to maintain stability & focus in seated meditation.

It symbolises the Union of Self with the Universe.

Chin Mudra is also known as Gyan Mudra.

In Yogic teachings, your thumb represents Supreme Soul (Supreme God / Universal Self / A Higher Power) and your index finger represents the Individual Soul (the individual self, or the essence of human beings).

When the two join, the limited perspective of self is connected to the spacious Universal Self, helping the individual understand the vastness of the Universe, how everything is connected and that we contribute to the destruction or growth of our life, community and planet.

Your other three fingers represent the three Gunas, qualities of energy or aspects of nature that appear in everything within the Universe. Your middle finger symbolises Sattva (Purity, Harmony & Ego), ring finger symbolises Rajas (Action, Chaos & Illusion) & your little finger is Tamas (lethargy, Darkness & Karma). The aim is to remove the three impurities (Ego, Illusion and Karma) in order to unite Individual Soul with the Supreme Soul to experience the state of bliss, oneness and harmony with the Divine. The yogi is on a path of transcendence through these states (the gunas), hence them being extended outwards in Chin Mudra, and progresses from darkness into light and from ignorance to wisdom.

If you are constantly jealous of others, you most likely aren't in a state of bliss or connection with the Universe and your own truth / path. You are tense, angry, anxious, upset and projecting your fears and worries onto others, creating separation. We all experience a dark side and difficult emotions, but it's how we react to them and try to overcome them that's the real challenge. That is the practice of Yoga; building more self-awareness and then learning how to move through the 'jealousy'.

2. Jnana Mudra - the gesture of Wisdom or Knowledge.

Aims to calm and stabilise the practitioners mind. It has grounding qualities.

It’s believed that Jnana Mudra may improve creativity, memory, develop intuition & enhance your connection to Spirituality & the higher self.

The fingers are also linked to the five elements; Thumb - Fire (Agni), Index Finger - Air (Vayu), Middle Finger - Space (Akasha), Ring Finger - Earth (Prithvi) and Pinky Finger - Water (Jala). It's thought that everything within the Universe, including us, is connected and made up of different combinations of the Elements. Keeping them, and the three Gunas, balanced in your body is essential to your health and practicing yoga in all forms (Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Mantra, etc) helps to keep them balanced.

3. Dhyana Mudra - The gesture of Meditation.

Deepens the practitioners concentration & brings balance & inner peace. The right hand symbolises Wisdom & Awareness, whilst the left symbolises the Illusion of Existence. The practitioner is said to be immersed in a limitless space, untouched by the outside world.

So these are the three most commonly used Hasta Mudras and I really hope you've found this useful and now have a bit more understanding into the spiritual meaning behind these hand gestures. Bring your attention to these deeper meanings they hold and the subtle sensations you may feel as you hold them. How do they make you feel? What intention could you set to assist you?

As you practice Yoga and become more connected to your Atman (the spiritual essence at the deepest level of an individual’s existence), you start to become more aware of the subtle energies within, rather than just the outward physical benefits. All you need to do, is keep up your practice, through the good and the bad times and trust that it is serving a long term purpose.

If you'd like to join me for a Yoga practice....

Gentle Yoga at the Hub Hazelwell, Kings Heath, happens every Wednesday 11:15am - 12:15am throughout term time.

It is block booking only, but do get in touch to see if there's space to drop-in!

Alternatively, you can find me at these local studios....

Yoga Borne, Stirchley High Street. Thursdays, Energising Flow 7am - 7:45am (Online Practice Only)

I AM YOGI, the Cabin in Moseley Park. Mondays Flow 9:30am - 10:30am & Basics+ 5pm - 6pm. Wednesdays Basics 5pm - 6pm, Saturdays Basics 4pm - 5pm.

Join a Yoga Asana practice that links with a Creative, Watercolour Painting session!

Yoga Nidra & Watercolour Workshops.

ONLINE Sat 8th October

In-PERSON Saturday 5th November, The Sound School in the Old Print Works.

Find out more....

With Gratitude, Sophie xx

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