Mudra 101

Often times we see specific hand gestures during a yoga class or maybe you’ve seen them in pictures. You may have wondered what people are doing with their hands and what it all really means, or maybe you didn’t know they meant anything!

These hand gestures are called mudras, in Sanskrit “mud” means joy and “ra” means to produce. A Mudra is a symbolic seal or spiritual hand gesture used to produce joy. Mudras are commonly used during yoga, relaxation, meditation, dance and ritual. The role of a mudra has some similarities to the practice of prayer in other religions.

Typically we use our fingers, hands and wrists to form a mudra, though some mudras incorporate the whole body. They are meant to direct our focus and energy or “prana” to different parts of the body to aide healing. The power we hold in our own hands to balance our lives is amazing!

Different areas of the hands correspond with areas in the body and brain. Mudras are usually accompanied by breathing exercises or “pranayama”, generally performed in seated positions.

The 5 Elements Within Us

Each finger represents a different universal element, when these elements are imbalanced, we can experience discomfort in the body. Mudras allow us to create balance of each element within us.

Thumb = fire and universal consciousness
Index finger = air and individual consciousness
Middle finger = connection
Ring finger = earth
Pinky finger = water


Jnana Mudra: also known as the chin mudra, formed by bringing the tip of the thumb and index finger together while keeping the other 3 fingers together and extended. This mudra symbolizes the connection between fire and air, also the unity of universal and individual consciousness. Gyana mudra is a gesture of knowledge, meant to increase creativity and concentration.

Shuni Mudra: formed by bringing the tip of the middle finger and thumb together, uniting elements connection and fire. This mudra symbolizes patience, stability and discipline. This mudra can be used when you feel like you need additional strength to get through, for example standing balancing poses.

Surya Ravi Mudra: formed by bringing the tip of the ring finger and thumb together, uniting earth and fire. Surya meaning “sun” and is also the name of the sun god. This mudra represents energy, health and balance. This mudra can help bring positive changes.

Buddhi Mudra: formed by bringing the tip on pinky finger and thumb together, uniting elements water and fire. This mudra represents communication, openness and mental clarity. It can also help strengthen your intuition and knowledge.

Prana Mudra: formed by bringing the tip of the thumb together with pinky and ring finger. This connection activates dormant energy within the body making you feel energized and strong.

Dhyana Mudra: formed by placing your hands in your lap palms facing up, left hand underneath right brining thumbs to touch. This mudra represents calm energy used in meditation or deep reflection.

Anjali Mudra: formed by bringing the palms to touch in front of your heart space symbolizing respect toward yourself and toward the universe. This mudra offers a sign of love, peace and gratitude, often used during the end of a yoga class.


Pick one of these mudras to start with that resonates with you or identifies a feeling you would like to cultivate within your body. Find a comfortable seat, use both hands to create the mudra, shift your awareness to the point where the fingers connect and BREATHE slow and steady for 5-10 minutes. Setting a timer is helpful when you are just starting out, this will allow you to focus on your meditation vs how many minutes have passed. Mudras can be used outside of formal meditation, feel free to incorporate mudras throughout your everyday life as well!

Happy Mudra Making!

-Anayat Eldaly, Nashville Bendii Instructor


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