All About Yoga Hand Posture or Hasta Mudras (With Photos)
What Is Hand Posture?
Simply put, hand posture is the yogic posturing of the fingers in various ways. In yoga, apart from yoga asanas (yogic exercises) and pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), hasta mudras, or hand postures, play an important role. In fact, hasta mudra, or hand posture, is a complete science in and of itself.
The whole universe is made up of five elements: fire, air, space, earth, and water, and likewise, the human body is composed of these five elements. The fingers of the hand represent these five elements individually.
- The thumb represents fire.
- The first finger represents air.
- The middle finger represents space.
- The ring finger represents the earth.
- The little finger represents water.
If these five elements are in harmony with one another in the body, we are healthy. An imbalance of these five elements leads to disease. When the elements are balanced, the body's systems function optimally.
The hand postures (I'll refer to them as simply mudras from now on) start working immediately. An interesting point to note here is that the mudras of one hand cause improvement in the body's opposite side; that is, the left-hand mudras affect the right side of the body and vice versa. These mudras can be done while walking, sitting, or standing. If sitting, we can sit in any position, be it in Padmasana, Vajrasana, or Sukhasana pose.
These mudras should be done every day, beginning with 10 minutes a day, extending to 30 to 45 minutes for full effect. This duration can be evenly split into two or three sessions. The mudras should be done on an empty stomach.
The 10 Hasta Mudras
- Gyan Mudra or the Mudra of Knowledge
- Vayu Mudra or the Mudra of Air
- Shoonya Mudra or the Mudra of Emptiness
- Prithvi Mudra or the Mudra of Earth
- Prana Mudra or the Mudra of Life
- Apan Mudra or the Mudra of Digestion
- Apan Vayu Mudra or the Mudra of Heart
- Surya Mudra or the Mudra of the Sun
- Varun Mudra or the Mudra of Water
- Ling Mudra or the Mudra of Heat
Please Note: While doing mudras, the free fingers must be kept straight.
1. Gyan Mudra or the Mudra of Knowledge
Touch the tip of the thumb and the tip of the index (first finger) together. The other three fingers have to be kept straight, as shown in the picture above.
- It helps with meditation and can improve concentration and reduce mental negativity.
- It helps to improve memory, and with regular practice, students may be able to improve grades and intelligence.
- It can aid in alleviating headaches, insomnia, hypertension, and anger.
- It can reduce stress and anxiety.
For better results, do Prana Mudra after this mudra.
2. Vayu Mudra or Mudra of Air
When practicing this mudra, touch the tip of the index (first finger) to the base of the thumb, and bring the thumb over the finger with slight pressure. The rest of the fingers remain straight, as in the picture above.
- The practice of this mudra helps to relieve all Vayu (air-related affections like arthritis, gout, sciatica, knee pain, and gas). It is thought to benefit neck and spinal pain, especially.
3. Shoonya Mudra or the Mudra of Emptiness
When performing this mudra, the tip of the middle finger is put at the base of the thumb, and the thumb comes over the finger with slight pressure, as shown in the picture above. The other three fingers are kept straight.
- Regular practice of this mudra helps in reducing ear pain and watering from the ears.
- If this mudra is done for one hour daily, it can help alleviate hardness of hearing.
- It helps bones become strong and can be beneficial in heart disease.
- It strengthens gums and can help with throat problems and thyroid disease.
This hand posture should never be done while eating or walking.
4. Prithvi Mudra or the Mudra of Earth
In this mudra, the tips of the thumb and the ring finger are touched together, as shown in the picture above. The rest of the fingers are kept straight.
- Regular practice of this mudra is helpful in body weakness, thinness, and also obesity.
- It can help to improve the functioning of the digestive system and reduces the deficiency of vitamins.
- It gives energy and luster to the body.
5. Prana Mudra or the Mudra of Life
In this mudra, the tips of the thumb, ring finger, and little finger are touched together, while the other two fingers are kept straight.
- It awakens the dormant power of prana, which gives energy and health. This exercise can be beneficial in diseases of the eyes and may improve eyesight, raise the body's resistance to disease, reduce the deficiency of vitamins, and boost energy.
- During fasting, it can reduce hunger pangs and thirst.
- If suffering from insomnia, doing this hand posture along with Gyan Mudra can help bring on sleep.
6. Apan Mudra or the Mudra of Digestion
This mudra is done by joining the tips of the thumb, middle finger, and ring finger while keeping the other fingers straight.
- This mudra may help to remove toxins from the body, helping the body to become purer. It also helps relieve constipation, piles, and diseases caused by Vayu (or air). It is helpful in diabetes, stoppage of urine, kidney defects, and dental problems.
- It is beneficial in stomach and heart diseases, and it may bring out perspiration.
Please Note: It increases the flow of urine.
7. Apan Vayu Mudra or the Mudra of Heart
This mudra is a combination of Vayu Mudra and Apan Mudra. The tips of the thumb, middle finger, and ring finger touch each other, while the index finger touches the base of the thumb with slight pressure. The little finger remains straight.
This mudra provides the same benefits as Apan Mudra and Vayu Mudra, as explained earlier.
- It is helpful in heart and Vayu diseases. It may be beneficial to people who have just had a heart attack or have a weak heart.
- It may help to alleviate stomach gas, help asthma, and improve headaches; it can aid with high blood pressure.
- If it is done five to seven minutes before climbing stairs, it can make climbing easier.
8. Surya Mudra or the Mudra of the Sun
This mudra is done by touching the tip of the ring finger to the base of the thumb and exerting pressure on the finger, as shown in the picture above.
- It balances the body, which may help to reduce body weight and obesity. It increases body heat and aids in improving digestion.
- It can help reduce hypertension and cholesterol and build strength.
- It can be beneficial for those with diabetes and liver defects.
Weak people should not do this hand posture. Also, do not do this hand posture for a long time in hot weather.
9. Varun Mudra or the Mudra of Water
This mudra is done by touching the tips of the thumb and the little finger.
- It helps to reduce dryness of the skin and improve skin luster and softness.
- It is useful in skin diseases, acne, and blood defects. It can improve facial beauty.
People suffering from asthma and respiratory problems should only do this mudra for a short duration.
10. Ling Mudra or the Mudra of Heat
Close your fist, as shown in the picture above. Keep the left-hand thumb straight and the rest of the fingers clasped.
- This mudra increases heat in the body and can cause sweating, even in winter, if done for a long time.
- It may help with colds, coryza, asthma, cough, sinus problems, and low blood pressure.
- It dries phlegm.
When doing this mudra, please increase your intake of water, fruit, fruit juices, clarified butter (ghee), and milk.
Do not do this hand posture for a long period of time.
Hast Mudras or Hand Positions
These are the 10 hasta mudras, which, if done regularly for the prescribed duration and following the outlined precautions, can be extremely beneficial to one's health.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.