In yogic practice, the hands are an energy map of our consciousness and health. Each area of the hand corresponds to a certain part of the body, as well as to different emotions and behaviors.
The yogis believe that hand positions formed during a kriya or meditation are a technique for communicating with the mind-body energy system. Using various movements, such as curling, crossing, stretching, and touching the fingers and palms, we can effectively “talk” to the body and mind. This occurs through stimulation of nerve endings and meridian points, as well as by guiding energy through specific channels.
The fingers can form an array of mudras that are used in Kundalini Yoga and other traditions. Mudras work in tandem with yoga kriyas and meditations to create precise outcomes, ranging from the calming of anxiety, to breaking an old habit, confronting anger over a past hurt, and processing our emotions.1
How: Touch the tip of the index (first) finger and the tip of thumb together. The other three fingers are straight.
Effect: Stimulates knowledge, wisdom, receptivity, and calmness.
Planet: Jupiter; expansion.
How: The palms of both hands and fingers are completely touching. The outer edge of the mound of the thumb is pressed into the sternum.
Effect: Neutralizes the positive side of the body (right, sun, masculine) with the negative side (left, moon, feminine).
There is a science to using Prayer Pose (Pranam Mudra) because there is a polarity in the body between the right side (the pingala) and the left side (the ida). When you put the right and left hands together, you neutralize the positive and negative polarities of the electromagnetic field. This action creates a neutral space.
The position of the thumb knuckles (in the center notch of the breastbone) is a reflex point for the vagus nerve, one of the major nerves that connects with the pineal gland. The pressure created in this space during Pranam Mudra immediately causes the pineal and pituitary glands to secrete, which creates a resonance in the brain that resets its normal rhythm to a meditative state. Research on the vagus nerve has revealed that it is involved in our feelings of compassion and empathy 2; therefore this mudra allows one’s prayer to come from the heart.
How: Touch the tip of the middle (second) finger and the tip of the thumb together. The other three fingers are straight.
Effect: Promotes patience, discernment, and commitment.
Planet: Saturn; taskmaster, taking responsibility, and courage to hold to duty.
How: Touch the tip of the ring (third) finger and the tip of thumb together. The other three fingers are straight.
Effect: Revitalizing energy, nerve strength, and good health.
Planet: Sun; energy, health, and sexuality. Uranus; nerve strength, intuition, and change.
How: Touch the tip of the little (fourth) finger and the tip of thumb together. The other three fingers are straight.
Effect: Creates capacity to clearly and intuitively communicate, stimulates psychic development.
Planet: Mercury; quickness, mental powers of communication.
How: For masculine-identifying individuals, interlace the fingers with the left little finger on the bottom. Place the left thumb in the webbing between the thumb and index finger of the right hand. The right thumb presses the fleshy mound at the base of the left thumb. For feminine-identifying individuals, the thumb positions are reversed and the right little finger goes on the bottom.
Effect: Channels sexual energy, promotes glandular balance and the ability to concentrate.
Planet: The mounds at the base of the thumbs represent Venus; sensuality and sexuality. The thumb represents the ego.