Our bodies and everything in the universe are made of 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space.
Each finger is also associated with one of these elements.
Yoga mudras are energetic closures or gestures made with our hands and fingers to help direct the flow of energy within the body, stimulating specific areas of the body and the brain. It’s helpful to use mudras along with meditation, pranayama and asana postures to promote healing and balance in the body, between the elements and the chakras.
Here are 7 mudras that can be used to activate each of the 7 chakras in the body, the energy centers that run up and down our Shushumna, the energetic spinal column. Learn more about the Chakras in this recommended book The Ultimate Guide to the Chakras.
Prithvi Mudra (gesture of the earth)
Touch the tips of the thumb and ring fingers together, with the other fingers straight.
The Earth element is connected to our physical bones, cartilage, skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, and internal organs, stimulating and strengthening these tissues and bones. Prithvi Mudra promotes a feeling of stability, confidence and strength, and helps reduce stress and weakness. It also improves your digestive power, and enhances overall vitality in the body.
Varun Mudra (gesture for water)
Touch the tip of the thumb and pinky together, with the other fingers straight or relaxed.
Varun Mudra Helps to balance the water element, the largest element of the human body, preventing conditions caused by lack of water or any kind of dryness in the body, and helps to activate the circulation of fluid throughout the body.
Apana Mudra (gesture for digestion)
Touch the tip of the thumb, middle and ring fingers together, with the other fingers straight.
Apana Mudra helps to detox and cleanse the body by improving digestion and elimination. It is energetically connected to the pelvis and abdominal areas. The word Apana is the downward and outward flow of energy from the body, such as the outbreath, digestive elimination and menstruation. It is also connected with your inner strength and self-confidence.
Anjali Mudra (heart offering)
Place the palms together at heart center, with a small space in between the palms.
Anjali Mudra symbolizes a connection with your heart, your inner divine self, and respect toward yourself, others and the wider universe. This mudra is an expression of love and gratitude and helps to connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain, uniting the body as a whole. Anjali means "offering" in Sanskrit and is associated with the greeting Namaste, showing respect, connection and compassion towards others, yourself and your spirituality.
Granthita Mudra (throat chakra activation and self-healing)
Interlace your fingers then touch the thumb and index fingers together, creating 2 interlocked circles, and hold the hands in front of the base of your throat.
Granthita Mudra activates the throat chakra, opening the vocal cord passageways, and allowing your communication, voice and expression to be clearer and more authentic. It also balances the thyroid gland and stimulates self-healing and expression.
Gyan Mudra (knowledge, wisdom)
Touch the tips of the thumb and first fingers together, with the other 3 fingers straight.
Gyan Mudra connects the fire and air elements, stimulating the brain and is associated with knowledge and wisdom. It also symbolizes the unity of universal and individual consciousness, increasing focus and concentration, and cultivates a sense of calmness and openness during meditation. You can place your palms facing up if you wish to be more open to receive, or face your palms down if you wish to feel more grounded and internal reflective.
Prana Mudra (vital energy of prana)
Touch the thumb, ring and pinky fingers together, with the other fingers straight.
Prana Mudra stimulates prana, the life force energy, within the body, helping it to flow more freely. This is usually an energizing mudra. It also has healing power for the eyes and it helps us to see more clearly physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is a wonderful mudra to activate the crown chakra and allow us to surrender to a higher consciousness.
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Author: Sally Mitchell, founder of Body Flows Yoga Retreats and RYT 200 Yoga Teacher leads yoga retreats in the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica. Living in beautiful Sonoma, California, after 15 years in NYC and San Francisco, her approach as a leader and teacher is holistic, balanced and grounded. She enjoys practicing and studying yoga, hiking and trail running in nature, traveling, writing, blogging and inspiring others to live a more spiritual and meaningful life.