Mudras 101: Learn Yoga Hand Gestures


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We often see statues of ancient yogis, gods, and goddesses sitting in meditation and holding their hands in certain positions. Or we may go into a yoga class in which the teacher encourages us to sit in silence with our hands perched on our knees, index fingers touching thumbs, and wonder: What do these hand gestures have to do with meditation? Turns out, quite a bit.

Hasta Mudras—literally meaning seals, stamps, or gestures—are sacred hand movements that have been used for thousands of years in many different traditions as a way of deepening one’s practice and awakening the power of the Divine. Today, Hasta Mudras continue to be important tools to free up energy (prana) and direct it to areas of the body that need healing. Every mudra has a particular purpose and moves the energy in a specific way throughout the body to create subtle physical, mental, and emotional changes. For example, if you come into your meditation practice feeling agitated or anxious, placing your palms face down on your thighs will usually calm and ground your energy. If you feel sluggish or sleepy, a palms-up mudra might enliven you.

See also 4 Mudras to Add More Meaning to Your Practice

Nubia Teixeira, founder of the Bhakti Nova School of Yoga and Dance, says that our hands are an extension of our hearts and connect our innermost thoughts and prayers to the outside world: “They are how we reach out, touch, express, heal, work, cultivate, cook, paint, write, play music, and hold one another,” she writes in her book Yoga and the Art of Mudras. So it makes sense that Hasta Mudras can help you positively direct your thoughts and actions to bring beauty into your life and the world around you. Mudras can help you “evoke the presence of a great goddess within you so she can empower you physically, allowing you to feel her force and echo her voice. With this personal experience imprinted in your heart, you can then be empowered to be your strong, true self,” Teixeira writes.





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