Think back to a yoga class and remember if the instructor ever asked you to move your hands into a specific gesture or place your fingers in a certain position. You might wonder why your yoga instructor guided these hand placements and if they add any additional benefits to your practice. Movements like these might seem small and insignificant, but the Kundalini Yoga Mudras add significant healing components to your yoga and meditation practices.
I know it took me a while to acknowledge the importance and benefits of these hand gestures. At first, I thought these placements were just meant to make yoga look more elegant and to have our hands doing something rather than just floating around. Boy, was I wrong! After incorporating some of the many mudras (and there are lots, with their own benefits) I’ve noticed improvements in my ability to meditate as well as improved digestion (I suffer from IBS), better balance in my standing practice and even my wrists are not as sore when practicing downward dog!
Each mudra has its own function and proposes its own healing properties so now it is even easier to customize your yoga and meditation practice to reap the specific benefits your body needs.
The Five Elements in the Body
The five elements in the body are the same earthly elements we are familiar with: earth, wind, fire, water and space/ether. Each finger represents one of these five elements. By placing a finger in a particular position, which we will learn about more later, we balance the earthly energy within our body and heal disease and mental anguish along the way.
How Do Kundalini Mudras Work?
The hand gestures, or mudras, you will learn in this guide direct energy flow to specific parts of the body to create balance and achieve therapeutic benefits.
With each finger correlating to an earthly element and each part of the hand correlating to a body part or function, you can easily target ailments you hope to cure. By practicing a certain mudra, you are essentially locking that energy into that body part and guiding it to where the healing properties need to go.
This nifty diagram below will show you what part of the body is linked to each part of your hand and help you to better understand how each mudra works with your body!
Now that we have a better understanding of WHAT how mudras affect the body, we can begin our journey! Before we dive into the most common Kundalini Yoga Mudras used in yoga classes today, let's go over some best practices you must apply to each mudra on our list.
A Few Tips Before we Get Started
Incorporating these guidelines will help you achieve the maximum benefit of practicing the mudras. If used improperly, mudras could have a negative impact on your health. Practice safe and practice smart!
- Proper Finger Pressure → use enough pressure so that you can feel the energy flow but not so hard that the tips of your fingers turn white.
- Proper Finger Placement → use the fleshy part of your finger and not the fingernail.
- Breath Awareness → just like in our physical practice, we should also be paying close attention to ensure our breath is smooth and constant.
- Time Your Mudra Practice → if you’re practicing the mudra alone and not with your physical yoga practice then try to dedicate at least 10 minutes to each mudra but no more than 45 minutes unless otherwise stated.
- Stop After Achieving Results → once you’ve reached the goal you want to achieve from practicing that mudra, it’s best to stop. Your energy is balanced, and it’s now time to move on to the next mudra. If you’re unsure of timing, the general rule is 15 days to one month of daily practice, unless otherwise stated.
- Use Both Hands → you should always practice every mudra on each hand simultaneously.
- Practice with an Empty Stomach → try not to eat 30 minutes before or after your mudra practice.
7 Popular Mudras
There are hundreds of different yogi mudras used in the ancient practice of Ayurveda, but I’m going to explain, in-depth, seven of the most popular mudras used in yoga classes and meditations around the world today. These mudras can be utilized on their own or paired with a meditation or physical yoga practice!
Gyan Mudra (Knowledge)
The Gyan Mudra is the mudra of expansive knowledge. It identifies with the root chakra, which is the chakra located at your pelvic floor relating to grounding and security in your life. When you practice this mudra, it helps to relieve depression and bring a calm that can arouse spiritual openness.
Using both hands, the tip of your thumb presses lightly to the tip of your index finger while keeping your other three fingers relaxed and straight. When practicing this mudra, it is common to place your hands on your knees with your elbows straight. You should practice this mudra for at least ten minutes and either sit upright or lie down.
Practice this mudra for a minimum of ten minutes but a maximum of 45 minutes each day.
How it helps:
If your life is feeling dull and you lack creativity, then the Gyan Mudra is recommended to help break the cycle of restlessness and lead you towards a fulfilling life.
By practicing the Gyan Mudra, you stimulate the brain by increasing blood flow, which can help prevent memory disorders as well as nervous system issues. If you’re suffering from depression or insomnia, you can practice this mudra daily to help alleviate the symptoms. The benefits of this mudra are vast and can even assist those living with thyroid conditions.
Vayu Mudra (Air)
Vayu in Hindi means air or the wind, and when practicing this mudra, it is no surprise that it reduces the air element within the body. Those suffering from an aggravated Vata are recommended to practice this mudra daily. It directly protects against and alleviates any air element imbalances within your body.
Press the tip of your index finger down at the base of your thumb, and then use your thumb to lightly press down on your index finger while keeping your other three fingers firm, yet relaxed, and erect.
It is a simple mudra that you can practice for a maximum of 45 minutes. I know it’s a long time, but you will feel relief from symptoms within 12 to 24 hours.
It’s best to practice this mudra for 45 to 60 days around the same time every day. Remember, you should practice this mudra in a comfortable position where you feel the calmest and most relaxed.
How it helps:
How it helps: Since this mudra decreases air in your body it benefits show through their ability to reduce the wind from the belly and decrease gastrointestinal issues like gas and bloating. Practicing this mudra also strengthens your chest while helping to relieve any chest pains. It has been noted to assist with joint pain related to rheumatism, sciatica, and arthritis.
Prithvi Mudra (Earth)
Like the Gyana Mudra, the Prithvi Mudra plays off your root chakra and is one of the most important mudras in healing your body. Since this mudra signifies Mother Earth, this mudra articulates calmness and cooling. You will reestablish your body’s natural balance and thus stabilize your body temperature as well as metabolism.
The mudra associates with increased confidence and by practicing it, you can stimulate a personal “fire” within. You can expect not only to feel it’s healing impact but also its impact on your ability to get things done while feeling good about yourself at the same time!
Follow the best practices while utilizing this mudra. To perform it correctly, press the tip of your ring finger to the tip of your thumb so that they meet near the middle of your palm, creating on "O." Keep the other three fingers tall and stable.
Pritvhi Mudra can be practiced everywhere, even while you’re watching television. It’s best to practice for at least 45 minutes, which can be done in one sitting or spread out over 10-15 minute intervals.
How it helps:
This mudra is recommended for you if you are Kapha deficient as well as if you experience any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. It is a famous mudra used for healing since it’s known to improve general feebleness while increasing your body’s strength and endurance.
If you or someone you know has a problem with putting on weight or absorbing nutrients from food, then it is best to practice this mudra on a daily basis. Some of Prithvi’s other common benefits are protecting against inflammatory diseases and improving hair, nails, and skin.
Varun Mudra (Water)
Varun Mudra, also known as Jal Mudra, represents the water element in your body and by practicing this mudra, you increase the water element within you by activating the salivary glands and general fluid circulation. Since our body is made up of 70% H2O, you can see why this mudra is important to incorporate into your practice.
To perform the Varun Mudra you simply press the tip of your pinky finger to the tip of your thumb, so they meet in the middle of your palm. Your other three fingers are held out gently but never too rigid. You should practice this mudra for at least 25 minutes per day sitting in a cross-legged position, but any comfortable position to do. With this mudra specifically, you should add a 10-minute stretch when you have completed your 25-minute mudra practice. Also, remember to keep the best practices listed above in mind!
If you suffer from water retention, then try practicing this mudra for 45 minutes or longer.
How it helps:
Since this Prithvi Mudra links directly to the water element it’s no surprise this mudra helps to keep your body hydrated. Without proper hydration, you can't expect your skin, nails, and hair to thrive! By ensuring proper hydration, you initiate hormone stability, and you can even protect your body from developing anemia.
Other benefits include maintaining bone and joint health, eliminating cramps and stomach bloating, and even impacting how you communicate with those around you.
Surya Mudra (Fire)
Surya is translated to the word “sun” from Sanskrit, so it’s easy to understand why this mudra correlates with the fire element. By practicing this mudra, you reduce the earth element within your body while increasing the fire element. Fire “fires” up your metabolism while earth associates with fat accumulation, so this Surya Mudra is becoming a very popular tool in assisting with weight loss.
Find yourself in a comfortable position, whether it’s standing, seated or lying down, with your arms out in front of you. It’s even beneficial to perform this mudra while walking.
Bend your ring finger, so the tip is pressed lightly against the base of your thumb, then use your thumb to press down on the top of your ring finger gently. The more pressure you use, the bigger the fire created within. You should only practice Surya Mudra for a maximum of 30 minutes a day, at 10-minute intervals.
Please follow the best practices when performing all the mudras.
How it helps:
Western society has figured out this mudra is ideal for its ability to help you shed the pounds. Because it decreases the earth element and increases the fire element, you will notice a faster metabolism and looser pants.
In addition to its weight loss properties, this mudra stimulates digestion and can relieve constipation and indigestion. Surya Mudra also helps you stay warm in winter months by cultivating more heat within the body.
Prana Mudra (Life Force)
Prana, or the life force energy mudra, is closely associated with the root chakra. By practicing this mudra expect to notice a newfound energy or awakening within your body. This mudra will find hidden energy sources within you and activate them directly. The Surya Mudra is usually referred to as the“cure-all” because of its ability to strengthen the link between your heart and soul; it especially comes in handy when you’re feeling weak or have lost passion for life.
Prana Mudra is best practiced either standing in Tadasana (mountain pose) or Padma Asana (Full Lotus). Bring your hands to your sides and press the tip of your ring finger and pinky finger to the tip of your thumb, pressing lightly. The index and middle fingers are pointed straight, but not too rigid. Your breath is extremely important in this mudra, so be mindful to ensure it is long and consistent.
You should practice Prana Mudra for about 30 minutes per day.
How it helps:
This mudra is known for its notable healing properties. It contributes to mending significant vitamin deficiencies, like vitamins A, B, D, E and K among others, while also regulating your mind. You can eliminate unwanted habits by practicing this mudra on a daily basis.
There is an extensive list of benefits associated with the Prana Mudra, so I’ll just list the most notable ones, like its ability to decrease nervousness and increase confidence. Regular practice will also help you to regulate negative behaviors like anger, tension, and envy, while also promoting one's happiness and enjoyment in life.
Other benefits include strengthening the immune system, relieving digestive issues and even improving your vision!
Shunya Mudra (Space/Emptiness)
Shunya Mudra (Space/Emptiness) Our final mudra for you to practice is the Shunya Mudra, which is associated with decreasing unnecessary space within the body. This mudra is also directly correlated to your ears and it is said that the practitioner can hear Anahata sounds if they cultivate enough quiet within. Anahata sounds are ten specific sounds experienced at the beginning of meditation.
Ancient texts describe Shunya Mudra as providing access to heaven’s realm by harnessing the fire energy within through this mudra’s finger placement. Seasoned meditators will feel like they are in another world or dimension when incorporating this mudra into their meditation practice.
It is said that in order to reap the most benefits from this mudra, you should sit in half lotus on a mat and never directly touching the floor. Radiation will disturb your practice and take away from the benefits this mudra has on your body.
Press the tip of your middle finger to the base of your thumb and then bend your thumb so it gently presses down on your middle finger. Your other three fingers are relaxed but erect. Your hands can be placed on your knees.
Practice this mudra in intervals of about five to ten minutes, for a total of 45 minutes, three times per day.
How it helps:
This mudra will help you to reach enlightenment and peace. It helps you to connect with the heavens and improve the relationship between you and the divine.
In addition to its noted spiritual benefits, this mudra is most well-known for its ability to cure hearing related illnesses. Practicing Shunya Mudra is beneficial for those experiencing tinnitus, hearing loss, and acute ear pain.
Practitioners will also notice any numbness or tingling they experience in the body just disappear. Those who are sensitive to motion sickness or those who suffer from vertigo will also find relief from practicing Shunya Mudra.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what a Kundalini Yogi Mudra is and how you can benefit from incorporating one or more into your daily practice. I know the science behind yoga can be complex and you might just want to skip all the technical stuff and do the cool poses. But knowing how yogi mudras can benefit your body will aid in your ability to nail Scorpion or pop up into a handstand, because without a balanced energy in your body, you’re not as strong or as focused as you could (or should) be.
It’s easy to take 10-miute intervals out of your day to dedicate to a meditation and mudra practice. Our guide can help you figure out what mudras would best benefit your body, but we also want you to get out there and research what mudras can give you the desired results. There hundreds of them out there.
I know my digestive system acts a little funky from time to time so I always try to practice Vayu Mudra daily, or when I need to focus on writing, I will practice Gyan Mudra to enhance my brain’s memory and focus.
It can be hard to start a habit, I know from experience, but this habit is healthy and benefits you in exponential ways! Let us know what mudra you started with and how it has improved your daily life. We love to hear from our readers so if there is anything you’d like to add or if there are any questions you have, don’t hesitate to comment below!
1. Gyan Mudra Benefits http://besthomeremedies.net/gyan-mudra-benefits/
2. Vayu Mudra http://stylesatlife.com/articles/vayu-mudra/
3. Science of Mudra https://www.harisingh.com/ScienceOfMudra.htm
4.Shunya Mudra https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/6859/shunya-mudra
5.Prana Mudra http://www.yogawiz.com/yoga-mudra/prana-mudra.html
6. Shuyna Mudra Benefits http://www.ayurhealthtips.com/shunya-mudra-steps-health-benefits/