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What does Mudra mean?
A mudra is a symbolic, ritualistic gesture used in yoga, Buddhism and Hinduism. The word is Sanskrit meaning "gesture," "mark" or "seal." Mudras are most commonly known as hand positions in yoga and meditation, which are believed to affect the flow of energy in the body and unblock chakras.
There are numerous types of mudras. Each type is thought to have a specific effect on the body and mind by clearing the psychic centers and energy channels. Although hand mudras are the most common in yoga, there are also head, postural, lock and perineal mudras.
Typically, mudras are performed alongside pranayama, in seated poses such as padmasana (lotus pose), vajrasana (thunderbolt pose) or sukhasana (easy pose).
Of the many types of hand mudras, some are as follows:
Prana mudra: The middle and index fingers remain extended while the little finger, ring finger and thumb touch. This mudra is believed to increase vitality and activate the root chakra (muladhara).
Gyan mudra: Also known as chin mudra, this is one of the most recognized of the mudras. The tip of the thumb and index finger touch with the palms facing upward. It is believed to reduce stress and relax the mind for meditation.
Jnana mudra: With the palms facing up, the hands rest on the knees in the seated position. This mudra is believed to uplift the body and mind.
Linga mudra: Both hands are clasped in front of your body so the left thumb points upward and is encircled by the thumb and index finger of the right hand. This mudra is believed to generate heat in the body, thereby boosting the immune system.
Anjali mudra: The palms of both hands are placed in front of the chest in a prayer position. It is often employed at the beginning and end of yoga class as a salutation.