Yoga Mudras To Try Now

You know me, I’m always looking for ways to deepen and enhance my yoga practice — and yoga mudras are a great, easy way to do that! I’ve actually been working with mudras for several years (you might have been, too… even if you didn’t know it), but recently, I’ve been delving deeper into the wonderful, sometimes strange, world of yoga mudras. And I love them!

Mudras are a great way to add extra juice and flow of energy to meditation, pranayama, and even asana practices. There are mudras for healing, mudras for focus, mudras for energy, and so much more! So, jump in and learn more about the use of mudras in yoga poses and how you can start building them into your regular yoga practice!

yoga mudras

What is a Mudra?

The short version… The term mudra represents a symbolic gesture often done with the hands (Hasta Mudras), which enhances the energetic effect of a yoga practice during meditation or pranayama.

The longer version… The Sanskrit word mudra can be translated as a gesture, seal, or mark. Typically, mudras are a symbolic action done with one or both hands, but some mudras use different body parts, such as the tongue(!) or the entire physical body. In some yoga traditions, energetic seals (bandhas) are classified as mudras, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika even lists the asana Viparita Karani as a mudra.

Hand mudras can be used with mantras, breathing practices, asana, or spiritual ceremonies to evoke or portray a particular energy or state. Some mudras are closely tied to Ayurvedic principles and are said to encourage specific healing properties and give the immune system a boost.

mudras in yoga

Mudras aren’t just a yoga thing; they are associated with a wide range of religions with South Asian origins (you could even say that the Christian tradition of bringing your hands together when you pray is also a mudra…). You have probably seen some mudras in Hindu and Buddhist images and iconography. In Hinduism and Buddhism, the different postures and poses of the deities and what they are doing or holding with their hands communicate a state or story to the viewer. For example, it’s common to see Buddhas sitting in lotus pose, Bodhisattvas, and Hindu deities with their right hand raised to shoulder level, palm facing out. This is Abhaya Mudra to indicate fearlessness and signal safety and reassurance.

What Are Mudras in Yoga?

Mudras are intended to be used as energetic seals, heightening and sealing in the Prana cultivated in your yoga practice. They’re also purported to help blood circulation in some cases.

The mudra you are probably most familiar with in yoga is Anjali mudra, or prayer front of your chest position, to mark the end of your yoga practice. This mudra represents giving thanks and honouring yourself as well as your teacher. It can also embody bringing together all the different energies and elements in yourself (the left and right/Ida and Pingala/yin and yang).

Traditionally, mudras have been used in many different ways in the different lineages of yoga. However, most often nowadays, a specific mudra is incorporated into a meditation or pranayama practice (or sometimes with asana) to symbolically (or literally, depending on your beliefs) evoke a particular quality.

How Many Mudras Are There?

Well, like many things in yoga, it depends on who you ask…

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists 10; other classical texts say three and some people will say thousands… An important resource for mudras is the Nātyaśāstra scripture, a classical treaty on performance art and dance from circa 200 BCE-200 CE, which lists 24 mudras with one hand and 13 with two hands. If you have ever watched a Bollywood film, you will see the use of mudras in dance is still pretty prevalent!

How To Use Mudras

The best way to work with mudras IMO, is to learn more about what different mudras represent, particularly on an energetic level, and start working with that one in your practice. For example, if you need a little more vitality, you could work with Surya mudra or more courage then explore Kali mudra.

Primarily drawing from Ayurveda, some mudras are touted as having specific health benefits. There are mudras for digestion, mudras for headaches, mudras for weight loss… tbh, in these instances, I would think of them as symbolic or perhaps a little psychological nudge to working with your overall health goal. Basically, if you want more lustrous locks then you probably need to do more than just use a mudra for hair growth! And please, don’t switch out your insulin for a mudra for diabetes — I’m no doctor (Ayurvedic or Western), but I can assure you it won’t have the same effect.

Instead, the health ones I prefer to draw on the Ancient Indian conceptions of the body working with different elements, energetic pathways, chakras, and winds.

9 Best Yoga Mudras

1. Gyan Mudra

Other names: Chin Mudra
Gyan Mudra

Even if you don’t know this mudra by name, you will definitely recognize it as the typical meditation mudra (think Budha sat cross-legged, backs of his hands on his knees, tip of your thumb and tip of your index finger touching). It is the mudra of wisdom and knowledge and is intended to help maintain inner stability and balance.

As mudras in yoga practices are said to form energetic seals, this mudra can be considered to support and balance the flow of Prana throughout your practice. As sustained states of meditation are the goal of yoga, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, this mudra helps to cultivate the inner knowledge and energetic stability required for deeper states of meditation.

From a Hindu perspective, Gyan mudra is said to embody the union of Atman (the self) with Brahman (the universe), with the thumb symbolizing Brahman and the index finger Atman. Gyan also means “consciousness” in Sanskrit, so the index finger represents individual consciousness, while the tips of your thumb represent the universal consciousness.

How to do Gyan Mudra:

On both hands, touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger to create a circle. The remaining fingers are outstretched and the palms of the hands face upwards. Rest the backs of your hands on your knees in your favorite seated meditation posture. Another mudra I really enjoy using in seated mediation is Dhyana Mudra.

You can work with this mudra in asana, too, for example, with the top hand in Trikonasana or the extended arm in Natarajasana.

2. Vayu Mudra

Vayu Mudra

Vayu translates as wind, or the air element, and in the context of the energetics of the body, refers to how energy flows all around the body, influencing how the systems of the body function. The Vayus, as energetic winds, represent a holistic way of understanding how emotions, matter, and physiological processes move through the body, and, therefore this mudra is considered to be very healing.

An uninhibited and balanced flow of the different Vayus are important for optimal physical, emotional, and spiritual health, so working with this mudra helps support this.

How to do Vayu Mudra:

Find a comfortable meditation posture, and place your hands, palms facing upwards, on your knees. Fold your index finger into the palm of your hands and gently push your thumb down onto your index finger, just beneath the middle knuckle. Keep your other fingers extended.

3. Prana Mudra

Other names: Pran Mudra
Prana Mudra

Prana is the vital, universal energy that flows throughout the energetic networks (nadis), of the entire body. It is actually one of the five Vayus and certainly the most well-known! A smooth flow of Prana indicates balance in body, mind, and spirit—and part of a yoga practice is building greater physical and mental health to keep our Prana topped up, flowing freely, and eliminating potential blockages. It is also closely related to the breath, as the Sanskrit translation of Prana means both vital energy/breath of life and simply breath.

So, Prana mudra is all about enhancing, balancing, and working with our Prana and activating your dormant energy! In terms of chakras, this is a great mudra to do when working with the root chakra, the base of prana stores.

How to do Prana Mudra:

Bring the tips of the thumb, tip of the ring finger, and tip of your little finger together on both hands. Keep your remaining two fingers gently pressed together and extended.

4. Surya Mudra

Other names: Agni Mudra, Prithvi Mudra
Surya mudra

Surya means sun in Sanskrit (like Surya Namaskar as in Sun Salutations), and the Surya Mudra represents the energy we receive from the sunlight. Much as plants require sunlight for photosynthesis, in some yoga traditions, the sun is believed to be a vitalizing force from which we can draw energy (tradtionally, Surya Namaskar were practiced facing the rising sun to soak up this supercharged sun power).

The ring finger plays an important role in this mudra, because astrologically that finger is associated with the sun. It is also sometimes referred to as Agni mudra. Agni means fire and it is the element associated with ring finger.

How to do Surya mudra:

On both hands, bend the ring finger into the palm so the tip of the finger reaches towards the base of the thumb, then place your thumb on top of the ring finger. Not only does this help secure the bent ring finger, but it is also said to eliminate the earth element associated with the ring finger and strengthen the fire element associated with the sun.

5. Apana Mudra

Other names: Apan mudra
Apana Mudra

Apana is another one of the five Vayus, and the one spoken about most after Prana. It is the downward, eliminatory energy, and it is integral for a healthy digestive system and being able to have a, ahem, good poop.

If you are experiencing any digestive issues, why not try experimenting with Apana mudra in your asana or meditation practice and see if it makes a difference! It’s also the mudra of the heart — with claimed benefits both for the emotions a well as the physical heart (eg. helps with chest pain).

How to do Apana mudra:

On each hand, place the tip of the middle finger, the tip of the ring finger, and the tips of the thumbs together, and apply gentle pressure between the tips of the fingers. Keep your two other fingers extended straight.

If you are using this mudra in meditation, rest your hands on your lap. But if you are incorporating it into asana, explore letting the hands reach to the sky, such as in Viribidrana I.

6. Kali Mudra

Kali mudra

Someone once said to me if you invoke Kali, you better make sure you are ready for her lesson. So, consider yourself warned. In Hinduism, Kali is a goddess associated with destruction—specifically, she destroys evil to defend the innocent and oppressed. She also represents female empowerment and the hidden power that resides within us. Basically, she’s the epitome of courage, fearlessness, and speaking truth to power… but she’s not afraid to teach a hard lesson. If there is something internally you need to overcome (your own inner demon, evil, or inner saboteur, to quote Ru Paul), she will force you to confront it.

Visualize, invoke, or call up on the spirit of Kali in your healing journey when you need the courage to overcome challenges!

How to do Kali mudra:

The nice thing about this mudra is that it works well in combination with strong asana, such as Viribidrasana I and III or Goddess squat. Although you can also practice it seated in meditation.

Clasp your hands together, ideally with the right finger at the bottom and, therefore the left hand thumb on top. Extend your index fingers, creating a strong, powerful pointer. You can either point the fingers upwards overhead or toward the ground if you require more grounding.

7. Shambhavi Mudra

This mudra isn’t performed with the hands, but with the eyes and works with Ajna, the third eye. This mudra is said to foster benevolence because it involves focusing your spiritual consciousness towards the divine. It has an important yoga lineage as it’s one of the 10 mudras listed in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It’s often used as part of a more extensive Kriya yoga sequence, popularized by the spiritual guru Sadhguru. The Shambhavi mudra can be incorporated into your meditation or pranayama practice.

If you find it helpful, you might want to explore the full Kriya practice, which revolves around meditation and breath practices. A scientific study conducted on people practicing the full kriya regularly found it helped with anxiety and depression and improved overall wellbeing.

How to to Shambhavi Mudra:

Prepare for your pranayama or meditation practice. Close your eyes, and keeping them closed, direct your gaze to Ajna, the third eye chakra located in the space between your eyebrows. Allow this action to be gentle; ensure you aren’t forcing the eyes and building up pressure in this area.

8. Khechari Mudra

Other names: Nabho Mudra

This Mana mudra (mana mudras are mudras that involve the head) is used to attain deep spiritual, life-sustaining states. It is said to support the liberation of the body by trapping the energy of Bindu (an energetic center in the head). As a mudra to use in meditation, it can help with focus and concentration.

Khechari mudra also plays an important role in Hatha yoga lineages, and is mentioned in many core Hatha yoga texts, including the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Like many traditional Hatha Yoga practices, it involves extreme physical manipulation to attain a spiritual state. The full expression of this mudra involves the elongation of the tongue by stretching it and progressively severing the membrane beneath the tongue so it has the mobility to travel back and up behind the nasal cavity. The tongue can then make contact with the Bindu and taste the sweet life-sustaining nectar, Amrita, that drips down from this area. A more contemporary interpretation of this is that the Amrita is discharged from the pituitary gland, and the tongue makes contact with the pituitary gland… but seeing as this would mean being able to get your tongue through bone up into your brain, well, I don’t see that happening any time soon!!

From a Tantric perspective, this mudra supports Kundalini energy rising up the central energy meridian to the head.

How to do Nabho Mudra:

Safe to say, I wouldn’t recommend cutting the membrane beneath your tongue or trying to wiggle it up into your nasal cavity. Instead, you can try Nabho mudra, the initial stage of Khechari mudra.

Set up your meditation posture. Softly bend your tongue backwards so the underside of your tongue rests against the palate. As you rest your tongue here, focus your awareness at your third eye.

The more frequently you practice this mudra, the easier it becomes. To begin with, you may only feel comfortable taking a few breaths like this, but in time you will be able to rest the tongue for longer periods.

9. Ashwini Mudra

Ashwini mudra translates to horse gesture or horse seal. It involves contracting and releasing the anal sphincter to draw Prana (life force) up Shumuna Nadi. This mudra helps create energetic awareness of the lower chakras and promotes better digestion, according to Ayurveda. The muscles of the anal sphincter also form part of the pelvic floor, so improving your control of this area can also help support better core control, Mulha Bandha awareness, and improved pelvic floor health.

How to do Ashwini Mudra:

Start in a comfortable seat, either cross-legged or kneeling. Drop your awareness into the bowl of your pelvis and consciously relax all the muscles of your pelvic floor and core, from your navel to your buttocks and thighs. Rest your awareness at your anus, and keep all other muscles relaxed, contracting your sphincter on an exhale. Hold for a few breaths and release the contraction fully. Repeat for a minimum of five rounds.