“Mudra”, a Sanskrit word, is “a special body position which channels the energy produced by asana and pranayama into the various centers, and creates a particular state of mind,” according to Yogi Swatmarama.
Mudras can be performed with your yoga poses and in seated meditation. Each one has a different purpose, so depending on your needs you can choose between the mudras or combine several in a yoga session. There are many mudras, here is just a few that I like and recommend.
Chin Mudra (other names Jnana Mudra, Gyan Mudra)
Chin = consciousness, knowledge or wisdom.
This mudra is good for the end of your yoga class, in a seated meditation. This is the first mudra I learned and I was taught that it helps channel knowledge, particularly higher wisdom.
I love using the Chin Mudra in standing poses and at the end of my yoga routine during meditation. Sometimes I will use one hand to do Japa meditation and the other in this particular mudra.
How to: touch the tip of your Index finger to the tip of your thumb and straighten the rest of the fingers.
Prana = life force.
This mudra is good for increasing energy (life force) whenever you may need it, stimulating the dormant energy at the base of your spine (root chakra) and increasing focus. In addition, it calms nervousness and clears negative energy. It is said that it is good for eyesight, fatigue, skin rashes, and vitamin deficiency.
I like to use this mudra in the morning, for work projects, and during breaks. When I need a work break, I will close my eyes, place my hands with prana mudra on each of my knees. I begin to focus on a strong and powerful breath. I will stay here for up to 10 minutes, but you can stay even longer if you wish.
How to: touch the tip of your thumb to the tips of your ring and pinky finger, keeping the rest of your fingers straight.
Surya = ‘Sun’.
This mudra helps you activate your fire element and reduce the earth element. Like putting wood into a fire, you can now start the fire. It relates to purifying and transforming vibrations into higher vibrations. Increasing your fire, increases your metabolism and body temperature, helping to you loose weight. It is said that it also treats the common cold, although I haven’t tried that yet.
Recently, I have been exploring using this mantra in a seated meditation after yoga, for 15-30 minutes. It can be challenging but playing chanting tracks helps the mind focus and then become clearer. Here is a fire element mantra:
Agni Gayatri Mantra
Om Mahajwalaye Vidhmahe
Thanno Agnih Prachodayat
Om, Let me meditate on the great flame,
Oh, God of fire, give me higher intellect,
And let the Fire God illuminate my mind.
How to: Place the tip of the ring finger on the base of the thumb and with your thumb apply pressure to the bent ring finger.
So there you have it, the Chin Mudra for knowledge, the Prana Mudra for energy, and the Suraya Mudra for increased fire element. If you like using mudras, I encourage you to try more like the heart mudra and the other element based mudras!