“In this respect, Kundalini Yoga assumes that every area of the hand forms a reflex zone for an associated part of the body and the brain. In this way, we can consider the hands to be a mirror for our body and our mind.” ~ Lothar Rüdiger Lütge, Kundalini yoga expert
Practiced since antiquity in combination with pranayama, asanas and meditation, Mudras or Hand Gestures is a practice to improve your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Our hands define our karma and fingers being the power points, are a link between individual Pranic force and universal cosmic energy.
The subtle hand and finger movements make important connections in the nervous system and stimulate specific energy pathways or nadis. Human body is an amalgamation of 5 elements of nature – Earth, Air, Water, Space and Fire & each finger acts as a representative of one element.
Yogis believed if one wants to cure any disease, they can tap into the energy of the elements and rectify the imbalance with the practice of suitable mudras. Starting from the thumb, the fingers represent Fire, Air, Space, Earth and Water, as depicted in the image.
Mudras redirect the energy flow to the upper Chakras, and gradually establish a link between all the Koshas (layers) of the body. Let’s look at 7 mudras, its benefits and duration for improving our mental, spiritual and physical health.
1) Gyan (Knowledge) or Jnana Mudra:
The gesture of knowledge or gesture of wisdom, activates the pineal gland, relaxes the mind and improves concentration. This mudra increases the vaayu (Air) Element within the body. In this mudra thumb represents brahma (Supreme reality) & the index finger is an individual soul, and their union creates eternal knowledge and wisdom.
Method: To perform this mudra, gently join the tip of thumb and the index finger, while the other three fingers are simply stretched out or free & slightly bent.
Duration: You can practice this mudra anytime during the day or while you are performing yoga postures or during meditation.
Benefits: Gyan mudra increases concentration, memory, reduces sleep disorders, helps to release stress and anger, eases depression and headache.
2) Vayu (air) Mudra:
The gesture of air is best for the Vata body types and reduces any constrictions in the body due to excess air in the body.
Method: It can be performed while sitting, standing or lying. Just fold the index finger, you would be able to see the phalanx bones. Press the second phalanx bone with the tip of the thumb, and the tip of the index finger should touch the base of the thumb.
Duration: One can practice this mudra any time during the day, whether on full or empty stomach.
Benefits: It eliminates excess gas/air related problems like gout, flatulence, constipation. It helps in diseases like arthritis, neck pain, trembling in Parkinson’s disease, paralysis and cervical spondilytis.
3) Prithvi (Earth) mudra:
This mudra amplifies the earth element of the body. Earth elements is a vital component of bones, cartilage, skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, internal organs, etc. Practice of Prithvi mudra builds and invigorates these tissues and strengthens the bones. It produces stability, confidence and strength.
Method: Sit down in lotus pose or easy pose to perform this mudra. Gently touch the tip of ring finger and thumb, while the other three are stretched or free.
Duration: 30-45 minutes every day, together or in 3 parts during the day.
Benefits: It reduces stress, weakness, helps in weight gain, increases blood circulation & Kapha, boosts self esteem & confidence. Also, it increases determination and directs individuals towards spirituality. It improves digestive power, develops vitality and removes deficiency of vitamins.
4) Agni (fire) or Surya (sun) mudra:
The fire hand gesture, is a powerful mudra with significant healing capacity. It increases the fire element in the body and reduces the earth element. The element Agni (fire) is associated with body-temperature and metabolism. Practice of Surya mudra helps to maintain the body-temperature and keeps the metabolism going.
Method: Practice only in sitting position and on an empty stomach every day to reap benefits of this mudra. Fold the ring finger and touch the tip at the base of the thumb while the tip of the thumb presses the second phalax bone of the ring finger.
Duration: Can be practiced 20 minutes every day but avoid practicing when you have acidity or indigestion problem.
Benefits: Dissolves excess fat in the body, reduce cholesterol, quickens digestion, boosts metabolism & immune system, controls low BP and regulates the thyroid gland.
5) Jal (Water) Mudra:
Works on the biggest element of the body, water, by increasing it to an optimum level. It prevents all diseases which come due to the lack of water or any kind of dryness. Helps to rehydrate cells, tissues, muscles, skin, joint-cartilage, etc.
Method: Sit in an easy pose or simply lie down and slightly touch the tip of the thumb with the little finger. The rest of the fingers can be left freely without any stress.
Duration: It is an easy mudra and can be performed anytime during the day.
Benefits: The element water is also associated with tongue and taste. Therefore, this mudra can be used to overcome disorders like loss of taste-sense, dryness of mouth, etc. Jal mudra nourishes the skin, making it glow. Eliminates skin diseases, increases blood flow, and reduces muscle aches.
6) Shunya (Emptiness) Mudra:
The mudra of emptiness or the heaven mudra, reduces the space element within the body. Since this element is associated with ears, it helps in getting rid of ear aches and many hearing disorders. It also helps the practitioner to open their heart chakra, and is suitable for meditation practices.
Method: To perform this posture sit in any easy pose, bend the middle finger and place it at the ball or mount of the thumb then press the first phalanx bone of the middle finger with the tip of the thumb. Other fingers should either be stretched, and practice the same position with the other hand too.
Duration: Practice this mudra for 15 minutes, three times during the day. If you practice this mudras at the same time everyday, it act as a catalyst in achieving the desired results.
Benefits: Shunya mudra is effective for any ear, nose or throat problems. This mudra assists in listening and speech and cures any numbness in any part of your body. It is also useful in overcoming motion sickness and vertigo. Release the fingers as soon as the symptoms subside.
7) Prana (Vital Energy) Mudra:
Prana mudra can be used whenever you feel drained or tired, and need an extra boost of energy. It helps optimal flow of the prana in the body, activates the root chakra and increases vitality.
Method: Be seated in Lotus pose, Perfect pose, Lighting pose or on the chair (if you cannot sit in any other pose). Place the ring finger and little finger at the tip of the thumb gently and keep the other two fingers stretched.
Duration: There is no specific time duration, one can practice at any interval and amount of time, or start with 5 to 6 minutes three times a day and increase it to 15 minutes.
Benefits: With an innate ability to control the subtle energies of our aura, this mudra cleanses our aura. The magnetic force generated by this mudra creates inner focus, clarity and a desire to delve deeper inside. This mudra is also about vision. It is not just about improving the vision of your eyes, but also to have a vision for your life. It increases vitality, reduces fatigue and nervousness. Pran mudra should be avoided if you are suffering from cough and cold.
Relax, breathe and feel the flow of energy within as each cell gets fully revitalized. These mudras can be done anywhere and integrating this ancient healing tool into your daily life will help you connect with your inner self and the universal energy. Mudras imbue tranquility, balance, and serenity for you and the whole.