During a yoga class, you may find your teacher using various mudras throughout the practice. If you are unfamiliar with these, mudras are gestures (usually of the hand or fingers) which help you go deeper in your yoga practice. There are different mudras you can use, depending on what your intention is for that particular yoga practice that day. Mudra means seal or gesture and it is usually used to activate the life force (prana) in our body in a specific region. Mudras have an influence on our body and our overall mood therefore they are very effective. They can be used in your yoga class, but also in your day, if you feel the need to bring your attention inward and focus on a particular area of your body/state that may feel out of balance. There are many different mudras, and below are just some of the ones I use often and encourage others to do so.
Hakini mudra is achieved by connecting all fingers together to bring harmony in the whole body, mind and the elements (fire, earth, water, ether, air) You can use it during meditation or simply when you feel out of balance and want to bring more alignment within. Hakini means power and when used it can boost mental power, clarity, concentration and focus. It corresponds to the ajna chakra, which is the third eye chakra or the 6th chakra. It governs intuition, clarity of thought and brings light into your life path to see beyond what your ego creates and perceives as reality.
Padma mudra represents the lotus flower of the heart. To do this mudra, bring your palms together, connect the little fingers with each other and the thumbs together whilst opening wide the other fingers. Padma mudra is a powerful reminder of the beauty of our soul and its purity, and it helps us open our heart to giving and receiving love, the kind of love that is honest, pure and unconditional. Padma mudra activates anahata chakra, which is the heart chakra or the 4th chakra and it heals all the wounds we have encountered in regards to love, the blockages created to resist it, the emotional pain and suffering we may have felt. It frees us of the idea of attachment, entitlement or possessiveness when it comes to love and brings understanding to the true meaning of love, the selfless kind, the love which we simply give without expecting it back because we know love is already within all of us . It helps clear the mind and brings out the joy and compassion we all have within.
The yoni mudra is done by bringing the palms together, away from the body. Keep the index fingers together and the thumbs, and interlock the rest of the fingers so that the backs of the fingers are touching (as described in the book by Swami Satynanda Saraswati, Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha). This mudra is about bring the body in balance, the left and right side of the body together, this being represented by the fingers interlocked together and connected. Yoni mudra represents the second chankra, Swadishtana or the sacral chakra, which is about sensuality, sexuality, creativity. The element for this chakra is water and using the yoni mudra creates a nice stability to this flow, a balanced state of your mental, physical and emotional energy.
Probably the most well known and recognised, Anjali mudra is also known as the prayer posture in the Western world. Anjali mudra is done by bringing the palms together at the heart centre. Most yoga teachers will include the Anjali mudra in a class, maybe at the beginning or at the end for Namaste but it is also used throughout some of the poses. This mudra is about respect, honouring and acknowledging somebody. Most commonly known when used with Namaste in yoga classes, this means “The divine in me honours or bows to the divine in you”. It’s a beautiful way to invoke love, appreciation and a gesture of humbleness I find also.
I would like to thank my amazing yoga teacher and mentor Michelle Keminski from Transformational Hatha Yoga school who has taught me about the importance of mudras.