What are Mudras? // Mudra Series

January 25, 2016 2:16 am Published by

Have you ever been to a yoga class and had your instructor invite you to touch your thumb to your pointer finger? Do you know what this is or why it is done during yoga and meditation? This action is called a mudra, Sanskrit for “mark” or “seal,” which is a symbolic, ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism.

I have become so accustomed to performing this gesture, I will sometimes do it on my own during meditation or while stretching my arm out for dancer pose, even though I know little about the origin or meaning of mudras. This inspired me to dig deeper and learn more about mudras, and let me tell you, there is SO much to learn. Over the next 5 weeks on the blog, I am looking forward to sharing a little bit from what I have learned in my research on mudras, how they can help you in everyday life, and I will teach you 6 different mudras for your daily practice.


What are mudras?

Mudras are hand gestures performed to invoke a specific flow of energy. Each area on the hand corresponds with different parts of the body. Think of mudras as yoga for your hands.

Where do mudras come from?

Mudras are rooted in Ayurvedic traditions but can also be found in Buddhism, yoga, and even martial arts. I’ll be focusing on mudras from an Ayurvedic perspective. If you want to find more about Ayurveda, please click here.

Mudras stem from the Ayurvedic belief that our bodies are made of 5 elements; earth, air, water, fire, and ether or space. Each finger represents one of these elements, and by touching the fingers together in certain ways, you will help activate and balance these elements.

I chose the Gyan mudra to start this series because it is the most common and easily recognizable mudra, and I really wanted to know what it meant! The Gyan mudra is the knowledge and wisdom mudra and is accomplished by touching the tip of the pointer finger to the tip of the thumb like this.


Practicing the Gyan mudra is great for helping with mental fog, stress relief, and memory. It is a great mudra for meditation because of its ability to calm the body and focus the mind.

I hope I’ve helped to demystify mudras for you! If you try out the Gyan mudra in your next meditation or walk let me know what you think about it. Be sure to check back next week for more information about the mudras.

If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I love meditating with the lunar phases. If you’re looking for a guided meditation to practice the Gyan mudra, I suggest downloading my free waning moon meditation here.

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About Cassie

Cassie Uhl is the author of five books and two card decks, an artist, intuitive energy healer, and death doula. Her lineage and practices are rooted in pagan earth-based spiritual practices of Northern Europe. She approaches her work and clients with trauma-informed support through all phases of life. She currently resides on the land of the Myaamia people in so-called Indiana of the US.