Purpose / Effects: Mudras Introduction

  • The original source texts for mudras are the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda Samhita.
  • Hatha Yoga is the branch of yoga that works through the body, rather than through the mind or emotions. Primary practices of Hatha Yoga include asana, pranayama, bandha and mudra. (See more: Branches of Yoga)

Hatha Yoga Pradipika & Gheranda Samhita

The main texts concerning the use of mudras are the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gheranda Samhita. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes 10 mudras and the Gheranda Samhita 25. – ArtofLiving.org

Sometimes Regarded as an Entire Branch of Practice

Mudras, especially those of the hand, are prominent in the Tantric aspect of the greater yoga tradition, and are sometimes regarded as an entire branch of practice, like asana, pranayama, mantra or yantra. – Dr. David Frawley

Five Classes

Mudras are divided into five classes:

  1. hasta (hand)
  2. mana (head)
  3. kaya (postural)
  4. bandha (lock)
  5. adhara (base or perineal)

Five Classes of Mudras to Affect Autonomic Nervous System

In the Hatha Yoga tradition, mudras are considered precious tools on the path of awakening. There are five classes of such mudras taught in the yoga tradition: hasta (hand), mana (head), kaya (postural), bandha (lock) and adhara (base or perineal). Although these five are different, they share the common purpose of serving as “seals” or “locks” used to affect the flow of energy in particular organs and channels of the body…. Many of the postural mudras and locks form the basis for  the internal practices of Hatha Yoga that are aimed primarily at affecting the autonomic nervous system, and have very little to do with the appearance of the musculoskeletal system. – Cain and Revital Carroll

Example of a Head Mudra

I learned about Brahma mudra (the Divine Spiritual Gesture) from Dr. Ananda Bhavanani, MD, from Pondicherry, India, who is both a Western trained physician and yoga therapist. Unlike the hand mudra or gestures that I use often in my meditation practice, the Brahma mudra involves movement and sound (NOTE: There is also a hand gesture by the same name, but that is not the subject of this post). Dr. Bhavanani said this mudra can help you on a physical level for pain and stiffness in the head, neck, shoulders, and upper back and for optimizing the overall functions of the neck region… he also stated this mudra helps cultivate psychosomatic harmony (body-mind balance), can be useful for managing stress and mood swings, cultivating relaxation, instilling a sense of mental lightness, and can enhance and balance our perspectives on life. – Baxter Bell MD