Topic of the Month - May 2015 - Mudras

By Tiffany Johnson

    Karma Yoga Denton is not only about  working towards having the practice of asana and the physical poses of yoga be more attainable to our ever growing community, but allowing our dedicated and enthusiastic yogis to get a little education into the inner workings of their practice. There is so much more to yoga, beyond the mat!

    Each month we will pick a topic to embrace in our classes, something that connects you a little deeper with your practice and allows you to learn a little bit more about yoga - than just the physical postures.  For the month of May, we will focus on Mudras.

    Mudras, sometimes referred to as “hand yoga”, are a way of using our hands to help cultivate a specific state of mind. Many different types of mudras are used in yoga, and each represents something a little different. By using mudras in our practice we can really tap in to each of the emotions that the gesture resonates with, deepen our internal connection to our practice, and become more present in our meditation practice. By focusing on the mudra, its meaning, what this in turn means to you, and being aware of the purpose of the action, we can work to clear our minds of the clutter that builds up throughout our days and nights. By bringing our attention to the mudra and its intention, bringing awareness to the breath, we can calm our hearts and better prepare our body –mind, heart, and spirit – for a more purposeful practice. Whether you choose to focus on meditation or asana, utilizing mudras to help us connect inwards, to our own true intentions, makes the time you give yourself that much more precious and empowering.

Below if a list of several common mudras and their purpose:

Lotus Mudra – The lotus represents light and love shining through the darkness. As the lotus grows to the water’s surface and opens its petals to the sky, still rooted in the mud underneath, this mudra helps embody the opening of the heart to new possibilities and beginnings. Bring the heels of the palms together, with thumb and pinky fingertips pressing into each other encouraging a space between the centers of the palms, and the fingers spread out and extended to the sky like petals opening up around a flowers center.

Gyan Mudra - Probably one of the most commonly seen mudras, and referred to as the "seal of knowledge." Bringing the thumb, which represents fire and divine nature, together with the index finger, air and human consciousness, we help to fan the flame and ignite the need to learn and expand our knowledge. The tips of the thumb and index gently touch, while the remaining fingers softly fan out. This mudra can be calming and help to center our focus.

Shuni Mudra - Represents "seal of patience" and helps to encourage patience, courage, discernment, and discipline. This mudra guides us to see the brighter side and take the higher road. To slow down, pace ourselves, and fully be here now. Similar to the Gyan Mudra, the Shuni Mudra instead brings the thumb and middle finger together, embodying the courage to fulfill responsibilities and honor our commitments.

Anjalii Mudra - You probably noticed this one referenced in your very first yoga class, but maybe more in the idea of a position or location for the hands than what the mudra actually represents. Palms together at hearts center, in what western culture has deemed as a position of prayer, fingers gently pressed together. This mudra brings both hemispheres of the brain together, symbolizes a connection to the divine, and is a sign of respect for others as well as for oneself in many cultures.

Ganesha Mudra - Like Buddha, the Ganesha is a very recognizable deity and is commonly seen in yoga studios as an image more than a mudra. The Ganesha uplifts thoughts of courage, confidence, and watches over us in safe travels. Placing your left hand in front of your heart with the palm out, place the right hand on top with the palm facing the chest. Now clasp fingers creating a link with your hands. On an inhale, tense the upper body and pull the hands apart without breaking the chain you have created. Keeping the finger tips pressing into each other. With an exhale, relax back into a neutral state. Repeat this 6 more times, than switch your hand positions, and repeat on the opposite side. Once you this is done, pace the hands on the heart and listen to it beat. By practicing this mudra, we break down walls and overcome obstacles in front of us.

    These are just a few of many, but some of the most common you will come across in yoga classes and then the Ganesha is my personal favorite. Feel free to comment or email with any questions, and listen for your teachers to incorporate them into their classes throughout the month.

    Have an idea or thoughts about our June topic? Email info@karmayogadenton or leave in the comments below. We would love to hear your feedback!