Mudras are hand gestures that help us to cultivate a specific state of mind. They can be a powerful tool when used to find deeper meaning in your practice. While there are dozens of mudras, there are a few that you are more likely to come across in today’s yoga classes. Here are three popular mudras and how they can benefit your yoga practice.
Perhaps the most common mudra is anjali mudra, drawing your hands together at the heart center as you do in Standing at Attention or Tree Pose. “Anjali” means “offering”, which makes sense since this mudra is often performed while saying “Namaste” at the end of the class, reminding yourself that your practice is an offering to your true self.
Another popular mudra is Uttarabodhi mudra. This mudra helps you to cultivate oneness as opposed to feeling separate from everything else in your world. This concept is described in Patanjali’s Eight-Limbed Path as samadhi. To find this mudra, bring your index fingers to touch and interlace your other eight fingers. Practice this mudra in Warrior II to remind yourself that strength is gained from becoming one with others.
The Guyan mudra is also often depicted in yoga art or literature and found in modern yoga classes. In this mudra, the tip of the thumb touches the tip of the index finger, representing knowledge and ability.
Are you familiar with mudras? Perhaps you have performed them in class without knowing what they meant. With a greater understanding of these hand gestures your practice can become that much more significant.