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Teaching and Practicing Mudrasand MantrasBy: Nancy WileYoga Education Institute Yoga Education Institute, 2015All rights reserved. Any unauthorized use, sharing, reproduction, or distribution of these materialsby any means is strictly prohibited.

Table of ContentsIntroduction .2Anjali Mudra .3Dhyana Mudra .5Chin Mudra 6Ganesha Mudra 7Lotus Mudra .8Prana Vayu Mudras (Five Elements) .9Abhaya Mudra .13Abhaya Hrdaya Mudra 14Adhomukha Mudra .15Ashvaratna Mudra 15Avahana Mudra .16Chakra Mudra 16Gada Mudra .17Garuda Mudra .17Kaleshvara Mudra 18Linga Mudra 18Mushtika Mudra .19Prithri Mudra .20Rudra Mudra 21Surya Mudra .22Vayu Mudra .23Yoni Mudra 24Body Mudras .25Mantras .271

IntroductionThe sanskrit word “Mudra” is translated as “seal” or “closure” or “gesture.” A mudrais a gesture that may involve the whole body or be a simple hand position. Based onthe principles of Ayurveda, mudras are thought to have healing properties and tohave an effect on the energy flow of the body. Some Yoga Mudras come natural tous, simply by touching our hands to our fingers we can affect our attitude and ourperception and the inherent energetic power can heal the body. Mudras used incombination with breathing exercises enhance the flow of prana in the body bystimulating the different parts of the body involved with breathing. Relating directlyto the nerves, mudras create a subtle connection with the instinctual patterns in thebrain influencing the unconscious reflexes in these areas. The internal energy is inturn balanced and redirected effecting change in the sensory organs, glands veinsand tendons. This adds a whole new dimension to the yoga experience.Yoga Mudras are typically practiced sitting simply cross legged, in vajrasana, or inlotus posture and even sitting in a chair. However, mudras can also be practiced aspart of a specific posture; for example during Warrior 2 or Tree pose. Ideally Ujjaibreathing or other pranayama accompany the more simple mudras.The main texts concerning the use of mudras are the Hatha Yoga Pradipika andGheranda Samhita. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes 10 mudras and theGheranda Samhita explains 25 different mudras.In this manual, the we first examine the most common mudras and the prana vayumudras. After that, you will see an alphabetical listing of many more mudras thatare explained and that you are encouraged to try out if they are new to you.At the end of the mudras, you will find a summary of common mantras that can bepracticed with the mudra of your choice, or as part of mantra meditation practice.At the end of each mantra, you’ll find a link to a video of the mantra to help you withpronunciation and pacing of the mantra.Practicing any mudra or mantra is a personal experience. I encourage you to tryeach one with an open mind and simply notice your experience and if a particularone might be beneficial to you, or something that you would like to try with yourstudents.2

Anjali MudraProbably the most common mudra in yoga, Anjali Mudra is the familiar gesture ofdrawing together of one’s palms at the heart. This gesture is common within certainasanas—in Tadasana(Mountain Pose), before you begin Sun Salutations, or in balanceposes such as Vrksasana (Tree Pose).In the West, we translate this gesture as a posture of prayer. Because we havegrown up with this gesture as part of our culture, each of us probably has our ownpersonal connection to this mudra—positive or negative. However, the beauty of thisgesture, which positions us right at the core of our being, is timeless and universal.This mudra is often accompanied by the word “namaste.” As the consummateIndian greeting, namaste is often translated as “I bow to the divinity within you fromthe divinity within me.” This salutation is at the essence of the yogic practice ofseeing the Divine within all of creation. Hence, this gesture is offered equally toeveryone and everything.Anjali mudra is used as a posture of composure, of returning to one’s heart, whetheryou are greeting someone or saying goodbye, initiating or completing an action. Asyou bring your hands together at your center, you are literally connecting the rightand left hemispheres of your brain. This is the yogic process of unification.Steps: Begin by coming into a comfortable sitting position Lengthen your spine out of your pelvis and extend the back of your neck bydropping your chin slightly in Bring your hands out to the sides, then draw your hands together at thecenter of your chest as if to gather all of your resources into your heart. Repeat that movement several times, contemplating your own metaphors forbringing the right and left side of yourself—masculine and feminine, logic andintuition, strength and tenderness—into wholeness. Try shifting your hands to one side or the other of your midline and pausethere for a moment. Does it feel slightly off kilter? Now shift back to centerand notice how powerful the center line is. Gently touch your thumbs into your sternum. Broaden your shoulder blades to spread your chest open from the inside.Feel space under your armpits as you bring your elbows into alignment withyour wrists. Stay here for some time and take in your experience. What initial shifts ofconsciousness do you experience? Is there a change in your mood?3

Now imagine that you are beginning your yoga practice—or any activity in which youwant to be centered and conscious of how your inner state will affect the outcome ofyour experience. Take anjali mudra again, but this time slightly part your palms, sothat your hands resemble the bud of a lotus flower. Depending on your spiritualorientation, you can metaphorically plant a seed prayer, affirmation, or quality suchas “peace,” “clarity,” or “vitality” within your anjali mudra. Drop your chin towardsyour chest and awaken a sense of humility with which to begin your practice. It isimportant that this anjali or offering be true to your Self as that will be the mosteffective and uplifting for you. When you feel your invocation is complete, drawyour fingertips to the center of your forehead, ajna chakra, and pause there feelingthe calming effect of your touch. Bring your hands back to your center to groundyour intention within your heart.From here you can begin your yoga asanas, meditation, or any activity from a placeof connectedness. Notice how much easier it is to be present and with whatever youare doing. Look for other times to integrate anjali mudra into your practice and life.Besides the beginning and end of your yoga sessions, anjali mudra can be usedwithin Sun Salutations many other asanas as a way to come back to and maintainyour center. When your hands come together overhead in Virabhadrasana I(Warrior I) or in Tree Pose, this is still anjali mudra. Consciously connecting thisupward movement of your hands through an invisible line of energy to your heartwill help your posture and your inner attitude.Anjali mudra is an age-old means of helping human beings to remember the gift oflife and to use it wisely.Variation of Anjali Mudra with Arms OverheadRegardless of the variation you practice, this mudra is said to help balance the rightand left sides of the brain, to bring calm and balance to the body, and to increase asense of awareness for the present moment.4

Dhyana Mudra (Bhairavi Mudra)Steps: Place the left hand in the lap, palm up.Rest the back of the right hand into the palm of the left.Lightly touch the tips of the thumbs together in the shape of a hollow sphere.Hold this mudra in front of the navel for 5-10 minutes.The right hand represents enlightenment, while the left is the illusory nature ofexistence. Alternatively, this positioning of the hands signifies skilful action (or“method”) as arising from a state of inner calm. Often practiced in Buddhistmeditation, dhyana mudra engenders a sense of calm and concentration. Itindicates the perfect balance of thought, rest of the senses, and tranquility.The Dhyana Mudra signifies the gesture of absolute balance. The person meditatingis completely unmoved by the surroundings, immersed in infinite space. It is said topromote a heightened state of awareness and insight.Sometimes, this mudra is displayed with both thumb tips touching each other,forming a triangle. This figure represents the Three Jewels of Buddhism – theBuddha, the Sangha and the Good Law (Dharma). The coming together of the thumbtips also indicates the union of two psychic channels in the body, as represented bythe male and female principles that exist in every sentient being.5

Chin Mudra (Gyan Mudra)The word Gyan means wisdom in Sanskrit. Thus, practicing the Gyan Mudra isbelieved to help instill wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. This is why the GyanMudra is widely used in many yogic meditation poses such as Pranayama. The GyanMudra is also known as the Chin Mudra.Steps: The Gyan Mudra should ideally be performed along with meditation asanas.Here are the steps of Gyan Mudra: Sit down in a meditative pose such as the Sukha Asana (Easy Pose), VajraAsana (Diamond Pose), or Padma Asana (Lotus Pose). You may even performthe Gyan Mura while standing in the Tada Asana (Mountain Pose) or sittingcomfortably on a chair. Ensure that your back is held straight and your chest and head held up high. Rest your hands on your knees with your palms facing upwards. Touch the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb. The rest of the fingershould be held straight and parallel to each other. This Mudra is performedwith both hands. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. To further enhance the effectiveness of the Gyan Mudra, you may chant theword Om (Aum) in conjunction with every exhale. Lightly focus on the subtle sensations of the physical body.Benefits: One of the main benefits of the Gyan Mudra is its ability to relax the body andfocus the mind to the task of meditation. It also helps to relieve stress andtranscend worldly problems.6

Ganesha MudraGanesha, the elephant god, is one of the most popular deities of Hindu mythology.He is supposed to help remove all obstacles from your path. The Ganesh Mudra isnamed after him because performing this Mudra is said to help lift your spirits andgive you the will to persevere when you are feeling down.Steps: Sit down comfortably on a chair or on a yoga mat in the Lotus Pose (PadmaAsana). Bring both hands in front of your chest with your elbows bent. Position the left hand with the palm facing outwards in such a way that yourthumb points towards your solar plexus and your little finger points towardsyour collar bone. Form a claw by bending the four fingers of your left hand and clasp themwith the four fingers of your right hand. In this position, your right palmshould be facing towards your chest. Inhale deeply. On the exhale, try to pull both arms apart while keeping alleight fingers locked. Feel the stretch along your shoulders and chest. Inhale once more and relax your arms while maintaining the Ganesh Mudralock. Repeat this process six times. Interchange your hands, with your right palm facing outwards and the leftpalm facing inwards and repeat this process. Release all tension from the arms and bring them close to your chest so thatyour hands are touching your sternum. Sit in this position for as long as youlike and focus on your breath.Benefits: The benefits of the Ganesha Mudra extend to the cardiac muscles, themuscles of the chest, shoulders, and arms. It also helps to release any pent up tension from the shoulders and chest.7

Lotus MudraTied to the heart chakra, the Lotus Mudra is a symbol of purity that is said to helpopen the heart centerSteps: Bring your hands together at the heart in anjali mudra Keep the thumbs pressing together, and the little fingers pressing together,as you begin to separate the other fingers Your hands will now look like a blooming lotus flower As you inhale, float your thumbs up to your third eye, keeping your middlethree fingers open to catch the energy As you exhale, bring your hands back to your heart in anjali mudra Repeat this action for a few minutesBenefits: This mudra often helps people feel grounded and helps open the heart to thejoys of life Releases tension and reminds us of the grace that is within us8

Prana Vayu Mudras (Five Elements)In Ayurveda, the qualities of the “five elements” of earth, water, fire, air, and etherare connected to and represented by prana vayus. These energies are symbolizedby the five fingers of the hand. The thumb represents fire, the index finger is air, themiddle finger is ether, the ring finger is earth, and the little finger is water.There is thought to be a direct relationship between the mudras and the fiveelements of the body. According to Ayurveda, disease is due to an imbalance in thebody caused by lack or excess of any of the five elements, our fingers have thecharacteristics of these elements and each of these five elements serves a specificand important function within the body. The fingers are essentially electricalcircuits. The use of mudras adjusts the flow of energy affecting the balance of air,fire, water earth and ether accommodating healing.The following five mudras are thought to influence the five vital airs in the physicalbody. With each mudra, the corresponding vayu is believed to be stimulated andbring a unifying effect to the various pranas.Prana Mudra- Tips of ring and little finger touch the tip of the thumb.Apana Mudra-Tips of the ring and middle finger touch the tip of the thumb.Samana Mudra-Tips of the index, middle, ring and little finger touch the tip of thethumb.Udana Mudra- Tips of the ring, middle, and little finger touch the tip of the thumb.Vyana Mudra-Tips of index and middle finger touch the tip of the thumbAny of these mudras can be done during meditation with the mind fixed on theparticular area of the body were the corresponding vayu is meant to reside. Bringingour conscious awareness to specific areas of the body helps direct the prana.Prana MudraThe concept of Prana or life force is one that is intrinsic to Eastern cultures. It isknown by many other names such as Chi or Qui. Mudras are specific hand gesturesthat help to regulate the passage of Prana through the body. The Prana Mudra is oneof the most important mudras because it helps to activate the dormant energy in thebody.9

Steps: The Prana Mudra should ideally be performed while sitting down inmeditative posture or while standing up straight in Mountain Pose. Keep your eyes closed and focus on your breath. Bring your hands up to your sides. Touch the tips of your ring finger and little finger to your thumb. The indexand middle finger should be pointed straight. Feel the life force as it rushes through your body. The Prana Mudra should be practiced for 10 to 15 minutes.Benefits: One of the primary benefits of the Prana Mudra is its ability to make you feelenergized when you are fatigued or depressed. It also helps to strengthen theimmune system and is good for the eyes.Apana MudraThe Apaan Mudra is also known as the purification mudra. It means “air that movesaway.” It focuses on the elimination of waste and toxins.Steps: Stand or sit up straight. Bring your hands in front of you and bend the middle and ring finger andthumb so that their tips touch each other. Your index and little finger should be pointing straight. The Apaan Mudra is usually performed with both hands. The Mudra shouldbe held for 10 to 15 minutes, which can be done in increments.Benefits: It is thought to help purify the body. This mudra helps the body get rid of unwanted toxins and is also helpful indealing with constipation and gas. It’s also thought to be helpful for heartburn10

Samana MudraSamana means “balancing air.” It moves energy from the periphery to the centerthrough a churning action. It aids in digestion in many levels: the digestion of food,the digestion of air and oxygen in the lungs, and the digestion of thoughts andexperiences in the mind.Steps: Stand or sit up straight. Join the tips of all the fingers This mudra is usually practiced with both hands and most often with palmsturned up or hands at the belly It complements kapalabhati breath or breath of fire It can be practiced for about 10 minutesBenefits: This mudra is said to help with the digestive system and help upset stomach. It also helps energize the body, especially the upper body and lungs It’s also thought to help clear the mind and see situations more clearlyUdanaUdana means “upward moving air” and governs growth of the body, as well as theenergy of enthusiasm.Steps: Begin in a seated positionSit up tallBring your elbows into the side of your body with your palms facing upBring the tips of your middle, ring and little finger to your thumb11

Point your index finger straight out in front of you.Stay here for a few minutesBenefits: It is said to help balance the chakras of the crown, brow and thoat. It is said to help develop a positive, optimistic outlook It is thought to help encourage growthVyanaVyana mean “outward moving air” and governs circulation on all levels. It keepsfood, water, oxygen moving through the body, and keeps emotions and thoughtscirculating as well.Steps: Begin in a seated positionSit up tallBring the tips of your middle and index finger to your thumbExtend your elbow with your arms out in front of you and palms upPoint your ring finger and little finger straight out in front of you.Stay here for a few minutesBenefits: It is said to help balance the entire body It is thought to help circulation12

More Mudras – In Alphabetical OrderAbhaya MudraSteps: Raise the right hand in front of your right shoulder, palm facing forward,relaxed, with the fingers extending upward. Keep your shoulder relaxed, elbow bent, and hand still. Feel the center of your palm warm, as if radiating a soft light. Rest the left hand in your lap with the palm up, or let it hang gently at yourside during standing or walking practice. Imagine anything that is causing you fear is looking into the center of yourpalm Feel the steadiness of your courage Hold the mudra for 5-10 minutesBenefits: Calms the mind, reduces anxiety and inner conflict Removes attachment and aversion to thoughts, emotions, and sensations Serves as a form of protection from negativity.13

Abhaya Hrdaya MudraSteps Raise the hands in front of the chest, palms facing center. Cross the wrists with the backs of the hands touching, right hand closest toyour body, palms facing to the sides. Firmly interlock the index, middle, and little fingers, while connecting thetips of the thumb and ring finger on both hands, forming two rings. Hold the mudra at your chest for 5-10 minutesBenefits: Nourishes the heart and lungs Improves digestion Creates a sense of vitality and calm Can help reduce nightmares Use of this mudra is especially helpful during times of exhaustion, orregaining strength after surgery. It is thought to allow heat to descend from the head through the chest downinto the belly, thus regulating the healthy function of all the internal organs.14

Adhomukha Mudra (Downward facing mudra)Steps: Join the pads of the thumbs together with the palms facing downward. Point all the other fingers down while resting the tops of the fingers and firstknuckles together. Keep all fingers straight and relaxed. Hold the mudra with the tips of the thumbs lightly touching the belly near thenavel. Practice this mudra for 2-5 minutes while focusing on the navelBenefits: Activates Manipura Chakra Strengthens digestive system Enhances healing Reduces toxicity Prepares the mind for meditationAshvaratna MudraSteps: Join the palms together with the index and ring fingers interlaced.Extend the thumbs, ring fingers, and little fingers.Maintain space in the web between the ring and little fingers.Imagine you are viewing your life from an outside perspective. In anobjective way and without judgment, notice any behaviors you frequentlyengage in that are not serving you. What behaviors and reactions would bemost helpful to you? Concentrate on cultivating those positive behaviors.Hold this mudra for 5-10 minutesBenefits Balances digestion, circulation Cuts through ego clinging and narrow-mindedness Gives new perspective on your choices and life’s path15

Avahana MudraSteps: Raise the hands in front of the face, palms facing you, with the sides of thehands touching. Place the tips of the thumbs to the base of the ring fingers. Keep the outer tips of the little finger pads touching and spread theremaining fingers. Hold this mudra for 5-10 minutesBenefits Grounding and centering Improves digestion Strengthens spiritual connectionThis mudra is also often used in conjunction with a mantra such as OM in order toenhance its effects.Chakra MudraSteps: Interlace the fingers of both hands. Extend the ring fingers, touching the tipsof the two fingers together. Hold the mudra in front of the navel. Feel the abdomen grow warm, as if the sun is shining inside your belly, asyou breathe slowly and deeply. Hold for 5 to 10 minutes.Benefits Centering and grounding Improves digestion, reduces gas and bloating Increases self-confidence.16

Gada MudraSteps: Hold the hands in front of you with the palms up. Bend and interlace the little and ring fingers at the second knuckle (tuckingthe fingers into the palms). Touch the tips of the middle fingers and extend them upward. Then, form two interlocking rings by touching the tips of the index findersand thumbs on both hands. This mudra is often held in front of the pelvis for about 2-5 minutesBenefits Improves elimination and tones the organs of the pelvis Strengthens the Muladhara Chakra, opens the flow of rising energy up theback of the body, evokes feelings of stability and safety.Note – This mudra is also often practiced in combination with grounding postures,such as warrior 1, warrior 2, tadasana, or chair pose.Garuda MudraSteps Raise the hands in front of the chest, palms facing you. Cross and bend the thumbs, creating a firm pressure between the pads Fan the remaining fingers up and to the sides, in the shape of large wings.Hold your hands in front of your heart in this position with the palms facingout. Imagine your hands shielding you from any danger or from any negativeenergy, and protecting your positive state of being. Hold this mudra for 5-10 minutesBenefits Improves intelligence Increases digestive fire, activates Manipura Chakra (navel center) It is thought to serve as protection and bring about feelings of confidence.17

Kaleshvara MudraSteps: Join the tips of the middle fingers and extend them forward. Fold the index, ring, and little fingers in toward the palms, touching them atthe middle joints. Touch the tips of the thumbs together and point them toward the heart. Hold this mudra at your heart center for 5-10 minutes during meditationBenefits Calms and clears the mind Strengthens the heart Is thought to help break negative patterns and addictive behaviorsLinga MudraSteps: Interlock the fingers of both hands with the left index finger on top. Extend the right thumb straight up. Join the tips of the left thumb and index finger, forming a circle around theextended right thumb. Hold this mudra in front of the abdomen for 5-10 minutesBenefits Warms the body Relieves cold and flu symptoms Reduces lethargy and laziness Increases self-confidence and willpower18

Mushtika MudraSteps: With each hand, bring the pads of the fingers toward the heel of the hand.Join the hands together with the thumbs side by side.In a comfortable seated position, hold the mudra lightly against your chest.Relax the shoulders, throat, and neck.On an inhale, reach your hands straight up, with your thumbs pointing up tothe sky.Make an offering from your heart to live your life for the welfare of all beings.Then bring your hands back to your heart, bringing that promise into yourheart.Continue this movement for a few minutes.Benefits: Weakens the ego and reduces self-defeating habits Awakens compassion Reduces anxiety and self-doubt, and calms the spirit Clears the mind Benefits the heart and vascular system.19

Prithvi MudraThe Prithvi Mudra is so called because it helps to equalize the element of Prithvi orearth within the body. This Mudra is also said to activate the Root Chakra.Steps The Prithvi Mudra can be performed while sitting or while standing upstraight in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Touch the tip off the ring finger of each hand to the tip of the thumb. The restof the fingers should be pointing straight. Hold this position for some time.Benefits: It helps to balance the different elements inside of the body. The Prithvi Mudra also helps to strengthen the body and alleviates fatigue. Practicing this Mudra also helps to foster self-confidence and belief in theself.20

Rudra MudraThe Rudra Mudra helps to govern and activate the Solar Plexus Chakra.Steps: Here are the steps of the Rudra Mudra that will help you to gain control overthe Solar Plexus Chakra and center the body: Sit down comfortably with your back straight and chin and chest held high.Postures such as the Padma Asana or Sukha Asana are especially suited forpracticing Mudras. Breathe in and out through your nose. Calm your mind and imagine that youare at the center of a spinning wheel. Raise your hands and press the tips of each index finger, thumb, and ringfinger together. The middle finger and little finger should extend straight out. Hold this posture for at a few minutes. You can perform the Rudra Mudra upto three to six times in a day.Benefits: There are numerous benefits of practicing the Rudra Mudra. This Mudra is thought to help to relive dizziness, regulate breathing andblood pressure, improve concentration and also improve eyesight.21

Surya MudraSurya is the Sanskrit word for the Sun and the Surya Mudra is so called because itincreases the element of fire in the body.Steps: Stand or sit up straight. Hold your hands out in front of you. Bend the ring finger of each hand so that its tip touches the mound of yourthumb. Press down on your ring finger with your thumb. Ensure that the other fingers are spread out straight. The Surya Mudra can be practiced for 15 minutes each day.Benefits: This Mudra helps to heat the body and raises the metabolism. Thus, it is an excellent posture for those who want to lose weight. It can also be used to treat common colds.22

Vayu MudraVayu means air and the Vayu Mudra helps to regulate the element of air inside thebody.Steps Press the tip of each index finger onto the mound of your thumb.Fold your thumb so that it presses down lightly on the bent index finger.The other fingers should be held straight.Perform this Mudra for as long as the problem that you are trying to alleviatepersists. It can also be practiced for 10-15 minutes every day to preventproblems relating to the imbalance of the air element inside the body fromcropping up.Benefits: The Vayu Mudra helps to balance the air inside the body. It is thought to help with problems such as flatulence and joint pain relatedto rheumatism, sciatica, or arthritis. This Mudra is also said to help with certain tremors in the body If you feel uneasy after a meal, you should practice the Vayu Mudra whileseated in the Vajra Asana (Diamond Pose). It can also be used for pain management23

Yoni MudraThe Yoni Mudra helps to completely detach from the chaos of the outer world andquiet the mind. Its name is derived from the word Yoni, which means "uterus",because like a baby in the uterus, the practitioner has no external contact with theworld and, therefore, no externalization of consciousness.Practicing this, one finds their nervous system calmed and stabilized.Steps Assume a comfortable posture, like seated cross-legged, remembering toalways keep your head and back straight and upright. Bring palms together with the fingers and thumbs straight and the thumbspointing towards the sky. Then turn the pinky, ring and middle fingers inwards so that the back of thefingers are touching. Point the index fingers down and the thumbs up Take slow, deep breaths.After practicing the hand gesture, you can complete the practice doing the following: Cover your ears securely with your thumbs Place your index fingers on your eyes, covering them Use both your middle fingers to pinch your nostrils Press your lips together with your ring finger just above the top lip and yourpinky below the lower lip Hold your breath for a few seconds and then release your nostrils andbreathe slowly through your nose. Hold your breath again and repeat.Benefits Relieving stress Relaxation and rejuvenation of the mind. Stabilizing the nervous system Maintaining a state of mental clarity and relaxation Attaining spiritual calmness and mental development24

Body MudrasYou can also practice hand mudras in connection with certain body postures toenhance an energy shift.Ganesha Mudra (in Thunderbolt) with Anjali Mudra (in Balasana)Vajrasana (Thunderbolt/Kneeling) with Ganesha Mudra Sit in a kneeling position with y

Gheranda Samhita explains 25 different mudras. In this manual, the we first examine the most common mudras and the prana vayu mudras. After that, you will see an alphabetical listing of many more mudras that . Hold this mudra in front of the navel for 5-10 minutes. The right hand represents enlightenment, while the left is the illusory nature .