Last week, we began to define what yoga mudras, or gestures, are and why they are used. Today, we’ll take a closer look at some commonly used hasta, or hand, mudras.
Note: There are many different hasta mudras beyond the few included in this blog and Thursday’s. I encourage you to investigate further!
1. Jnana Mudra – Psychic Gesture or Knowledge
The word jnana means knowledge or wisdom. For this mudra, the tips of the index finger and thumb, or the nail of the index finger and base of thumb, are joined. From here, the underside of the wrist is placed atop the inner knee, so the palm rests face down.
2. Chin Mudra – Psychic Gesture of Consciousness
Chin comes from the root work chit or chitta, which means mind/consciousness.
Chin mudra’s finger configuration is identical to jnana mudra. The difference is that the palm rests face up.
As Swami Saraswati Satyananda stated in his book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandh, “Both jnana mudra and chin mudra are simple but important psycho-neural finger locks which make meditation asanas more powerful.” The joining of the index fingers and thumbs creates a circuit for energy that would normally dissipate into the environment. This now contained energy flows back through the body and to the brain. The upturned palms of chin mudra can also help the chest area open up, creating a sense of receptivity and lightness.
* Deepened perception of these mudras evolves over time.
3. Hridaya Mudra – Heart Gesture (Photo 5)
This mudra diverts the flow of prana, or energy, from the hands to the heart. Regular practice is even believed to improve the vitality of the physical heart.
The middle and ring fingers relate directly to the nadis, or yogic energy channels, related to the heart. The thumb helps close this pranic circuit and act as an energizer.
This gesture is also believed to help alleviate pent-up emotion, especially in times of conflict or crisis.
How to practice? Place the tips of the index fingers at the root of the thumbs, as in chin and jnana mudras. Join the tips of the middle and ring fingers to the tips of the thumbs. Let the pinky finger remain straight.
Sit in a well-supported, upright position and assume the mudra with both hands, place back of wrists on knees so palms face up. Close the eyes and relax the whole body while maintaining an upright spine and deep breathing. Practice for 3 to up to 30 minutes.
Come back Thursday to learn about a few more hasta mudras!
Sophie Herbert is a yoga teacher, contributing editor to Whole Living, singer and artist. She has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India; teaches yoga in Brooklyn and Manhattan; and recently released her first full-length album, "Take a Clear Look." Please visit her website at SophieHerbert.com.