‘Mudra’ is a sanskrit word which means gesture. Mudras are basically hands or body positions that form an energy circuit in the body. With a belief to get any desired mental, physical or spiritual goal mudras are performed with an energy conducting channel in our body. Normally we have seen people from classical dance field or from some spiritual activities performing mudras. These energy circuit will help us to increase concentration and awareness. Yoga Mudras have ability to provide positive energy that can change mood, perception and attitude of a person.
Mudras can be performed alone with hand positions, or it can be done with a combination of the whole body with asanas, bandha, pranayama and meditation. Mudras were introduced after practicing asanas, bandha, pranayama and meditation for many years and getting level of proficiency after energy blockage was removed. Mudras lead to the activation of some higher practices of chakras, prana and kundalini, which is popularly known to provide psychic power or siddhi to the advanced yoga practitioners (Yogis).
Mudras help the practitioner to enhance awareness of the flow of prana in the human body by establishing a direct link between the astral body, physical body and the casual body of Yogi. In our body, the pranic energy is continuously radiated by the chakras and Nadis. This energy escapes from the five senses of action and the five senses of perception and flows into the outer world. To redirect this energy back inward Mudras are performed. Mudras help to create a barrier within the body to redirect this energy. For example, In Shanmukhi Mudra eye, ears, nose and mouth is closed to redirect energy flowing from these openings inward direction. Similarly, with the practice of vajroli mudra, the enormous amount of energy emitted through Vajra Nadi is redirected to the brain.
The human mind becomes inwardly drawn with the restrictions on energy dissipation from the body, including the states of Dharana and pratyahara. Mudras are considered an essential technique for awakening kundalini due to its ability to redirect energy. Because of energy redirection mudras are highly incorporated in kundalini and kriya yoga practices.
Famous Hand and Head Yoga Mudras
Yogis, spiritual practitioners and practitioners of tantra vidya practice with hundreds of different mudras. But here in this article, we are going to discuss some of the most popular, most powerful and vital mudras.
Few Hand Mudras or Hasta Mudras discussed are:
- Chin Mudra
- Jnana Mudra
- Yoni Mudra
- Bhairavi and Bhairava Mudra
Manamudras or Head Mudras:
- Khechari Mudra
- Shambhavi Mudra
- Shanmukhi Mudra
Chin and Jnana Mudras
Chin mudra and Jnana mudra are hand mudras simple to practice but very important to make meditation asanas more powerful. Our hand palm and finger endpoints have many points with nerve root end. From these endpoints energy constantly emits outward. To block the flow of energy to the environment, Mudras are performed. When our finger touches the thumb, a closed circuit is formed that redirect the energy dissipating into the environment to flow back into our body and travel up to our brain.
When we place our hands and fingers on the knees, a closed circuit of energy redirect is formed that will redirect or maintains tha prana within our body. Hands are placed on the knees to stimulate a Nadi called the Gupta Nadi or the hidden Nadi. This Gupta Nadi from the knees goes up from the inside of the thighs and into the perineum. Energies at mooladhara chakra stimulate by sensitizing these channels.
To open up chest area, the palms are placed facing upward on knees in chin mudra. While practicing chin mudra, the practitioner may experience a sense of receptivity and lightness, which is not present in the case of jnana mudra.
Steps to perform Chin and Jnana Mudra :
- To start, sit in a comfortable meditation position.
- Now touch the inside root of the thumb by bending the index finger.
- Keep your remaining fingers from both hands straight and relaxed.
- Now palm facing downward place both hands on knees.
- Relax your arms and hands.
- With palm facing downward it is called jnana mudra.
- In case of chin mudra, place the palms on a knee facing upward direction.
Benefit of Jnana and Chin mudra:
Both chin mudra and jnana mudra give rise to deeper states of meditation in a relatively short period of time.
Yoni means source or womb. Yoni mudra stimulates the energy present in the source of creation or the womb. It creates a cross-connection of energy from the left hand into the right hand and from right hand into left hand by the interlocking of the finger.
Steps to do Yoni Mudra:
- Sit in a comfortable meditation position with your head and spine straight.
- Now bring your palms together with your thumb and finger straight pointing away from your body.
- Close your ring, middle and ring finger inwards so that your opposite hand finger backside touched.
- Similarly, interlock your both hand three fingers with each other.
- Now bring your thumb toward the body and join the index fingers together as seen in the picture to form the shape of a yoni.
Benefits of Yoni Mudra
- Yoni mudra will help to balance the activities of your left and right hemisphere of the brain.
- Intensifies the flow of energy by joining the tips of index fingers and thumbs together.
- Helps in stabilizing the mind and body while practicing meditation.
- Increase concentration and awareness.
- Heart chakras are opened.
Bhairavi and Bhairava Mudra
Bhairavi and Bhairava Mudras are used during practicing meditations and pranayama. Bhairavi is the female counterpart of Bhairava. In this mudra, we put one hand over another to represent the union of the supreme consciousness with the individual consciousness. In India, Bhairava name refers to Lord Shiva responsible for the conclusion of the Universe.
Steps to do Bhairavi and Bhairava Mudras:
- With your head and spine erect sit in a comfortable meditation position.
- Now put your right-hand palm on the top of left palm so that both your palm face in the upward direction.
- Place your hands in the rest position on the lap area.
- For bhairava mudra close your eyes and relax your body without moving.
- Similarly, if we put left hand on the right hand, then it is called bhiravi mudra.
Benefits of Bhairavi and Bhairava Mudras:
- These are known for perfect relaxing conditions by creating a master energy circuit.
- Microscopic body male and female energy synchronize with the macro cosmos male and female energies creating perfect mental, physical and spiritual harmony between these two.
Hrudya means heart in India. Hrudaya Mudra is for strengthening the heart chakras. This mudra improves heart vitality. Hrudya Mudra is simple to practice and can be performed at any time when needed.
Steps to do Hrudaya Mudra:
- With your head and spine erect sit in a comfortable meditation position.
- Put the tip of the index finger at the root of the thumb.
- Simultaneously join the tip of the ring and middle finger to the tip of the thumb.
- The little finger should be straight.
- Now with your palms facing upwards put the hands on your knees.
- In meditation position, close your eyes and relax the whole body.
Benefits of Hrudaya Mudra:
- Hrudaya Mudra helps in diverting the flow of energy to heart chakras from your hands.
- Here thumb closes the circuit by joining with middle and ring fingertip. Middle and index finger relates to the Nadi connected to your heart.
- It is highly beneficial for heart alignment.
- Hrudaya Mudra will help to unburden your heart by releasing your emotions.
Shambhavi is the primary energy of Lord Shiva also known by the name ‘Shambhu Nath.’ As per spiritual documents, Lord Shiva (Shammbhu) taught Shambhavi the way to attain consciousness and knowledge with the practice of Shambhavi Mudra.
In the field of yoga, Shambhavi Mudra is considered as most precious and secret mudra practiced by highly experienced Yogis. Based on the information that we got from sources it is about fixing the mind on antarlakshya, meaning keeping your eyes open without blinking and focussing your brain inside your body is Shambhavi Mudra. It is Sastras and Vedas secret preserved. In this mudra yogi focus mind and body on antarlakshya with open eyes. Pretend to see but not seeing and outside gaze directed to eyebrow centre.
Gheranda Samhita confirms that anyone who knows Shambhavi Mudra is himself Adinath, Narayana and Brahma, the creator of this universe. Many yogis stay in Shambhavi Mudra permanently. It is also referred to as Rudrani Mudra.
It is an integral part of Kriya Mudra. It is a meditation practice powerful enough to activate Ajna chakra. Anyone should practice it under guidance only. It can be practiced with eyes open or eyes semi-closed, keeping eyeballs in an upward direction.
Steps to perform Shambhavi Mudra:
- Sit in meditation posture comfortably.
- Now put your hands on knees with spine and head straight.
- Relax your whole body and close the eyes.
- Slowly open your eyes and focus on a fixed point with the body in a fixed position.
- Look upward and focus on inward on Ajna chakra without moving the head.
- Focus gaze at eyebrow centre and deep breathe slowly and try to meditate on inside stillness.
- Then close your eyes and relax. It is Shambhavi Mudra.
- It is practiced with the incorporation of three Bandhas: moola, jalandhara and uddiyana simultaneously as one maha bandha.
Benefits of Shambhavi Mudra:
- Shambhavi Mudra strengthens eye muscles.
- Release tension from the focussed area.
- Shambhavi Mudra will calm you mentally by removing your anger and stress.
- We get mental stability, improved concentration and mind free from thoughts.
- If practiced regularly, it will lead to the ultimate state of meditation.
Khechari is a Sanskrit word with ‘khe’ meaning sky and ‘charya’ means ‘one who moves.’ Yogi who practices this mudra enters into higher realms of consciousness means flies high in the sky. Khechari mudra is secreted from Bindu spot at the posterior fontanel and collected at the vishuddhi chakra. With perfection in khechari mudra enables the yogi to trap the drops of amrita in the throat, rejuvenating the whole body by overcoming the thirst and hunger.
The person who knows khechari mudra is free from any disease, sleep, death, fatigue, hunger or thirst. He is not bound by karmas and does not suffer from any illness and free from the cycle of birth and death.
Steps to do khechari mudra:
- Sit in a meditation position with spine and head straight and hands-on knee in chin mudra.
- Relax the body and close your eyes.
- Now roll your tongue upward to touch its lower part upside of mouth.
- Stretch your tongue as far possible, and with practice, it will be inserted into the cavity to stimulate the amrita flow stimulating vishudhhi chakra.
- Now focus the gaze on the eye centre with eyes closed.
- Keep your tongue inserted in the cavity as long possible.
- For the beginner, relax and repeat as performed.
- Do Ujjayi pranayama and breathe slowly and deeply.
Benefits of Khechari Mudra:
- It helps in stimulating many nerve centres located at the nasopharyngeal cavity at the back of the mouth.
- Helps in massaging the number of glands.
- Stimulate some hormones secretion.
- It helps in reducing the sensation of thirst and hunger.
- The person enters into the state of stillness and inner calm.
- It is especially beneficial for inner healing.
Shanmukhi word forms two words Shan means ‘six’ and mukhi means ‘having faces or gates.’ Shanmukhi Mudra is called so because it helps in redirecting awareness inside by closing human body six openings, i.e. ears, eyes, mouth and the nose. It is also called sam-bhava mudra, Devi mudra, yoni mudra and parangamukhi mudra. With the practice, one sees the light of self through spiritual eyes, so it is also called Jyoti mudra.
Steps to do Shanmukhi Mudra:
- Sit in Siddha Asana with spine and head straight.
- Relax the whole body and close your eyes.
- Now close the six openings by placing hand thumb on ears, index finger on eyes and ring and little finger on the mouth.
- Release middle finger and inhale slowly profoundly.
- Close nostril once inhaled. Retain the breath for as long possible and focus on inward gaze.