An Introduction to Mudras

by | Sep 15, 2022 | Nurturing Your Practice

Mudras have always been part of the ancient traditions of yoga.  Mudra means “seal” or “attitude” in Sanskrit and when the word is broken into parts it can be translated as “to move towards delight.”  Mudras are subtle and delicate movements of the hands, face, or sometimes the entire body.  These intricate movements and connections can teach us how to tune into spiritual energy and align the energetic fields of the body.  Mudrās can be linked with many different things such as elements, chakras, koshas, emotions, and even our very own organs and the organ systems; they can be used to help a variety of conditions and disorders. Online yoga teacher training programs often teach on the ancient practice of Mudras.

We can map the elements, the sense organs and action capacities onto the fingers of our hands to connect to subtle manifestations of these energies within our body and enhance the effects through a mudra practice. Through this connection and mapping process, the ancient wisdom of yoga teaches us that we can improve and align the energetic fields of the body and overall health.  You may find the mudras below that correlate to the elements. They can be helpful additions to your regular practice and daily life off the mat. 

Elemental Mudrās

Earth Mudra – Prithivi Mudrā 

Tip of thumb and ring finger on top of each other, extend other fingers

  • Harmonizes the earth element in the body
  • Activates the Mūlādhāra Chakra (root) and can eliminate any energy deficiencies within it
  • Brings groundedness
  • Provides inner confidence
The Earth Mudra - the tip of thumb and the tip of the ring finger touch, all other fingers spread out.

Water Mudra – Jala Mudrā

Tip of thumb and little finger on top of each other, extend other fingers

  • Balances the water element in the body
  • Activates Svādhiṣthāna Chakra (sacral) and can eliminate any deficiencies within it
  • Good for dehydration issues
  • Supports kidney and bladder

Fire Mudra – Agni Mudrā

Right hand, make a fist with the thumb pointing up, rest this hand on left open palm

  • Balances the fire element in the body
  • Activates  and balances Manipūra Chakra (solar plexus) and can eliminate any deficiencies within it
  • Good for igniting the transformation fire of tapas
  • Helps with digestion on all levels

Air Mudra – Vayu Mudrā

Thumb over the top half of the index finger so the index finger touches the ball of the thumb joint while keeping the other fingers straight.

  • Presents an access of “wind,” including flatulence, gout, sciatica, and rheumatism in the joints
  • Activates Anāhatha Chakra (heart) and can eliminate any deficiencies within it
  • Supports heart and lungs
The Air Mudra: Thumb over the top half of the index finger so the index finger touches the ball of the thumb joint while keeping the other fingers straight.

Space Mudra – Akasha Mudrā

Tip of thumb and middle finger on top of each other, extend other fingers

  • This mudra can aid in meditation by helping to purify emotions and thoughts and increase intuition and alertness.
  • Activates Viśuddhi Chakra (throat) and can eliminate any deficiencies within it
  • Helps increase the internal space within the body

Prāna Vayu Mudrās

Prāna Vayu Mudra

Tip of thumb to the tips of the little finger and ring finger together, extend other fingers

  • Helps increase vitality, and reduces fatigue
  • It can increase one’s self-confidence and strength to see things through.
  • Alleviates eye issues
The Prana Vayu Mudra: Tip of thumb to the tips of the little finger and ring finger together, extend other fingers.

Vyāna Vayu Mudra

Tip of thumb to the tips of the index finger and middle finger together, extend other fingers

  • Helps improve blood circulation and improves heart health
  • Enhances energy distribution
  • Alleviates fatigue and blood pressure issues (high or low BPH)
The Vyana Vayu Mudra: Tip of thumb to the tips of the index finger and middle finger together, extend other fingers.

Apāna Vayu Mudra 

Tip of thumb to the tips of middle finger and ring together, extend other fingers

  • Improves the removal of waste materials and toxins from the body
  • Supports the energy around the liver and gallbladder
  • Balancing effect on the mind
Apana Vayu Mudra: Tip of thumb to the tips of middle finger and ring together, extend other fingers.

Udāna Vayu Mudra

Tip of thumb to the tips of index, middle, and ring fingers together, extend pinky finger

  • Helps to improve respiratory function
  • Aids in improving speech and communication
  • Balances function of the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
Udana Vayu Mudra: Tip of thumb to the tips of index, middle, and ring fingers together, extend pinky finger.

Samāna (Mukula) Vayu Mudrā

Bring all fingertips to the thumb

  • Helps to improve digestion, absorption, and the functioning of the stomach and the intestines
  • Aids in the regulation of energy in the navel center, improving digestion
  • Balances all five elements in the body
Samana Vayu Mudra: Bring all fingertips to the thumb.

If you’d like to learn more about Mudras and their use in yogic practices, check out My Vinyasa Practice’s Pranayama & Breath Work Certification, or 200-hour Tantra Yoga Teacher Training, fully accredited by Yoga Alliance. 

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