What is a Mudra and Why Do We Use it in Yoga?

May 16, 2019

The Sanskrit word mudra is translated as gesture or attitude. Mudras can be described as psychic, emotional, devotional and aesthetic gestures or attitudes.

Yogis have experienced mudras as attitudes of energy flow, intended to link the individual pranic force with the universal or cosmic force.

Tha Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other yogic textx consider mudra to be a yoganga, an independent branch of yoga, requiring a very subtle awareness. Mudras are introduced after some proficiency has been attained in asana, pranayama, bhandha, and gross blockages have been removed.

Mudras are higher practices which lead to awakening of the pranas, psychic powers, on the advanced practitioner.

Mudras and Prana

The attitudes and postres adopted during mudra practices establish a direct link between annamaya kosha, the physical body, manomaya kosha, the mental body and pranamaya kosha, the energy body. Initially, this enables the practitioner to develop awareness of the flow of prana in the body.

Ultimately, it establishes pranic balance within koshas and enables the redirection of subtle energy to the upper chakras, inducing higher states of consciousness.

Five Groups of Yoga Mudras

The mudras can be categorised into approximately five groups:

  1. Hasta (Hand Mudras)
  2. Mana (Head Mudras)
  3. Kaya (Postural Mudras)
  4. Bandha (Lock Mudras)
  5. Adhara (Perineal Mudras)

Mudras are performed either in combination with or after asana and pranayama.

The Benefits of Mudras

Using mudras brings along the following benefits:

  1. Expansion of consciousness
  2. More Powerful Asana and Meditation Practice
  3. Cross-Connection of Energies
  4. Greater Concentration
  5. Internal Physical Relaxation
  6. Vitality of the Heart