What are mudras and why are they powerful?
In Sanskrit, mudra means “seal” or “sign.” Mudras are hand gestures that act as energy “seals” and they also position your hands to symbolize different meanings.
The tips of your fingers, the crown of your head, and your feet are where energy leaves your body. You can practice mudras to take that energy back into your body and channel it instead of allowing it to leave through your fingertips.
The Elements of the Hand
The hand has three Gunas or qualities, and every finger has its own energy and its own elements.
In yogic philosophy the three Gunas, fundamental forces, are tamas, rajas, and sattva. They interact to create all of the known Universe (Prakriti) and can be increased or decreased by using mudras.
Sattva manifests as balance, inspiration, and knowledge of what is real. Tamas is a heavy, mindless energy that causes ignorance and inaction. Rajas is the energy of change, manifesting as passion, pain, desire, and effort, and it can lead you to sattva or tamas but is often characterized as an attachment to outcomes and unsteadiness.
Your hand has each of these three Gunas characteristics, and each finger within each Guna is associated with an element.
- Your thumb, associated with the fire or Agni element, is rajasic.
- Your index finger, associated with air, and your middle finger, associated with space, are tamasic.
- Your ring finger, associated with earth, and your pinky, associated with water, are satvic.
A Mudra for Everything
You can use mudras to increase or decrease the Gunas and specific elements. Whatever you need in your life, there is a mudra for it! The list below shares some great mudras to get started with, some of which you might already be familiar with, and many of which balance all five elements.
Use this mudra to balance fire and air, connect to your higher self, clear stagnant energy, and create openness to receiving inner and divine guidance.
Rest your palms facing up on top of your thighs or knees and tuck the tip of your index finger under the tip of your thumb. Your middle, ring, and pinky fingers remain lightly extended.
Anjali mudra is commonly used to close and sometimes open a class because it is a gesture of offering from the heart. It’s a literal connection of your hands, symbolizing one of the key principles of yoga: union. It connects the right and left sides of your brain, and the right and left or feminine and masculine energies in your body.
Do you ever spend time with a friend who has a bad attitude, and you feel yourself being lowered to her frequency? Do you ever feel yourself absorbing the energy of somebody else’s bad day?
This is the mudra you need to protect your energy. Kashyapa mudra balances and grounds you while creating a seal against negative energy.
To use this mudra, make a fist with the tip of your thumb between your middle and ring fingers.
Shankhavarta mudra is the mudra of inner wisdom. When you’re struggling to differentiate between the voices of your highest self and fear or ego, use this mudra to find clarity and connect with your inner guidance.
Start with your palms in Anjali mudra and, keeping your fingertips connected, press your palms away from each other to form a triangle with the base as your connected thumbs. Then release your right index finger and allow it to relax toward the center of the triangle your hands have formed.
I like to think of yoni mudra as the goddess mudra. Use it to quiet your mind, connect to your divine feminine energy, and call on the energy of the goddesses.
Bring your palms together, fingers pointing down. Open your palms up into an upside-down triangle with your thumbs as the base. Then turn your pinky, ring, and middle fingers in so that the backs of the fingers are touching and thumbs are pointing slightly upward.
Shunya means “empty.” This mudra balances fire and space to help you open and expand, to clear throat chakra blockages, and release the limiting beliefs of your ego.
Hold the palm of your hand open and bend your middle finger to gently press into the ball of your thumb. Bend your thumb so that it presses into your middle finger and extends your other fingers. Then try it with your other hand!
Use this mudra to clear away energetic blockages holding you back from abundance, and open yourself to receiving.
This mudra, also known as the lotus mudra, resembles a lotus flower blossoming open.
You know the phrase “no mud, no lotus.” The mudra reminds you that the lotus has moved through the mud and risen above it to blossom.
Start with your hands together at heart center in Anjali mudra. Keeping the base of your hands, pinky fingers, and thumbs together, allow the rest of your fingers to blossom open.
Use this mudra to balance fire and water, open your heart chakra to love, compassion, and gratitude, and remind you of the peace and wholeness you already possess within.
If you need help accessing your inner guidance and understanding intuitive messages, use Buddhi mudra to balance fire and water. Simply touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky finger while holding your other three fingers straight.
Do you ever have those days where you just feel off? You don’t feel like yourself, and maybe your mind is spinning instead of being focused and calm. On those days, use Samputa mudra to find mental and emotional clarity, connect to your true self, and balance all five elements.
Bring your palms together at heart center. Hollow out a small space between your hands, keeping the tips of your fingers connected, and tuck your thumbs into that hollow space.
If you need to be reminded of your personal power and strengthen your solar plexus chakra, Garuda mudra is the mudra for you. This mudra stimulates the fire element, the element of the solar plexus chakra, to energize you and stoke your inner fire.
Hold your hands in front of you with your palms facing your chest. Cross your left hand over right and interlock your thumbs, stretching all of your other fingers out as much as you can.
The Ushas mudra is all about flow and creativity. When you’re stuck in a place of trying to force, push, and control where you aren’t allowing yourself to open, receive, and follow your inner guidance, use this mudra to get back into flow, connect with your feminine energy, and awaken your sacral chakra, your center of creativity and passion.
To do this mudra, clasp your hands together, interlacing your fingers with your left thumb resting on top.
Kubera mudra, also known as the wealth mudra, is the mudra for attracting a regular flow of abundant energy and material well-being. This mudra balances fire, air, and space and reminds you that if you trust the Universe, you will always have enough and you will always be taken care of.
To use this mudra, touch the tips of your thumb, index, and middle fingers together, and tuck your ring and pinky fingers into the middle of your hand.
About Eryn Johnson
Eryn Johnson is a breathwork facilitator, tarot reader, and Reiki Master based in Fishtown, Philadelphia. She is also the host of the Living Open podcast for mystics and seekers, a storytelling tool here to help facilitate soul evolution. The foundation of her work is energetic and based on the belief that there's nothing wrong with you- we are simply programmed from a young age to forget the truth of who we are. She uses energy work, storytelling, and breathwork to guide you back to you - your heart, your power, your magic. Find her work at www.living-open.com and @erynj_ on Instagram.