Tips: How, Where and When to Practicing Yoga Mudras

It is very easy to practice a yoga mudra, provided you know what the mudra is [hint: the mudra list below will help]

All you have to do is place your hands and finger into the right formation.

For instance, to make the Karana Mudra you simply extend your fifth and second fingers and curl your remaining fingers inwards so that your thumb touches your third finger.

  1. When you practice a yoga mudra you should have only minimal pressure in your fingers and your hands should feel relaxed and with no tension. At times this might be a challenge. Some mudras are quite complex. For instance, the Shakti mudra requires that you make a fist while extending your fourth finger upwards and your fifth finger outwards. The Shakti mudra is fine for young yogis, no doubt, but a challenge for older people and especially for people with arthritis. But thankfully, not all mudras are as complicated as the Shakti mudra.
  2. You may notice that you struggle to make certain mudras.  Perhaps you can do a mudra with one hand but not with the other, or you need to use one hand to support the other before you can do the mudra.  In that instance, simply do what you need to do to perform the mudra comfortably. If you can only make a mudra with one hand while using the other for support, that is fine.
  3. The more you practice the mudras the more comfortable you will be with them and the less pain you will have in corresponding parts of your body.
  4. But bear in mind, mudras do not need to be performed perfectly to have an effect. Do your best, and trust that the more you practice the easier it will become.
  5. You can do a mudra in any of the meditation positions. Lying down, sitting up, standing, all are fine. The only exception to this is when the mudra involves specific body positions.
  6. As with meditation, when you practice a mudra you should have good posture. Make sure your spine is in good alignment and that your entire body is relaxed with no tension (except for some specific yoga mudras, like the Maha mudra above, that intentionally use tension in the body).
  7. Relaxation is important to the flow of energy around the body, whether that’s Kundalini energy, prana, chi, or any other kind of energy, the more relaxed you are the better your energy will flow.
  8. You might also like to use pranayama (rhythmic breathing used in Yoga) to get more into the mudra.

When you use a hand mudra/hasta you can meditate in one of the many different types of meditation. Or you might choose to think about something.

Unlike in meditation, when you practice a yoga mudra you can think about something else if you wish. However, in my experience, for the best effect, you should meditate. The choice is entirely yours. Thinking about something will not prevent the mudra from working.

If you are meditating, the best type of meditation to use are basic breathing meditations.

Be mindful of pranayama, of the rhythmic flow of your breath through your body. And for the best effect with many mudras, you will want to adopt a certain position while visualizing a certain thing while using the mudra. The complete combination of these elements can lead to profound changes in your mind and body.

Where And When To Practice?

It is entirely up to you when and where you practice mudras. Just make sure you are relaxed and focused. Some yogis even practice mudras while stuck in traffic, though there are of course inherent dangers to that.

Some of the best times to use mudras are in the morning, during lunch break, after work, and before bed. As I mentioned, it is entirely up to you when you practice the mudras. Try to be relaxed and focused. If you truly want a profound transformational experience, go to a relaxing and beautiful nature spot and try practicing mudras there. You’ll love it.

You can just do mudras at home if you like.  Then, once you have grown accustomed to the different mudras you will be able to use them more easily and more quickly wherever you happen to be.  For instance, if you’re stuck with a bad customer on the phone at work you can use the Gyan mudra (palms up with index finger touching thumb). The Gyan mudra is a very relaxing mudra. So in stressful moments, you can use the mudra for a quick spot of relaxation.

Which Yoga Mudra Or Meditation Mudra Should You Use?

When you practice yoga hand mudras, you should not hop from one mudra to the next. This is a mistake lots of beginners make. And it is understandable. When you’re doing something new it’s fun to try out different things. But this will not work for mudras.

It takes a period of time for a yoga mudra to be effective.

If you are a beginner you will need to use a mudra for at least ten minutes before it has an effect on your mind. If you switch from one mudra to the next you won’t experience any heightened mental, you’ll just get a vague impression of one state, and then another and so on. It is much better to stay with one mudra and to truly get into that mudra so you can experience it fully.

Choose one mudra and stick to it for at least ten minutes before moving on.

You might also like to leave a gap between different mudras.

When you use a mudra you will change your mental state and you will change your world. Every change of mind brings with it a change in the world. So, when you use a mudra you change your mind and change your world. But it will take a short while to truly experience those changes. So, when you are starting out, leave a few hours between different mudras.

How Long Should You Hold A Hand Mudra For?
There is a lot of discussion about how long you should hold a mudra for.

The great masters do not agree on a set amount of time. Keshav Dev, an Indian mudra researcher, says that you should hold one mudra for 45 minutes a day. However, if you are new to mudras you will struggle with this and you may end up with pain in your fingers. That’s why it is best to use one mudra three times a day for 15 minutes at a time with a break of at least a few hours between each session.

Kinesiologist Kim da Silva, a recognized mudra expert, recommends that you choose how long you will hold the mudra before you begin. This helps to stop distractions. If you don’t set a time you will be checking the clock, and that is not conducive to heightened mental states.

If you are using mudras to cure a specific problem, or if you have a health condition, you should ask a healthcare professional for advice on which mudras you can use and how long you can use them for. If you have arthritis in your fingers, for instance, holding a mudra for too long will lead to pain and perhaps even injury.

Some mudras are used for health conditions. For instance, Linga mudra can be used for lung complications. Mudras like this should only be used for as long as necessary. When you notice the health benefits you are looking for you should stop.

When you finish a mudra, you might like to be still and silent for ten minutes and meditate on your breath. This is a great way to finish your mudra session.

Enhancing Yoga Mudras Through Breathing, Affirmations, And Visualisation
Holding the actual hand position of a mudra is the basic foundation of the experience. If you would like to enhance the experience, you use visualizations, affirmations, and breathing techniques.

The first and most important of these enhancements is the breath and pranayama.

Here is what you need to know:

  1. You should make sure that you have good posture anytime you use a mudra. Your spine should be in good alignment and your arms should be relaxed about one inch to the side of your body. You will know when you have the right position because you will feel more solid and more stable with less tension in your body.
  2. Before you begin a mudra session you should make sure that you are breathing deeply (diaphragmatically). The easiest way to do this is by using breathing meditations for a few minutes.  
  3. If you are using a mudra for relaxation you should breathe deeply and in a slow and relaxed fashion.
  4. If you are using a mudra to produce energy or to refresh yourself, breathe out more vigorously.
  5. Overall, breathing should be flowing, energized, deep, and slow.
  6. When you inhale, you can apply a little more pressure in the hands and fingers.
  7. When you exhale, relax the hands and fingers (while still maintaining the mudra).
  8. As well as using these breathing tips, you can add visualizations and affirmations to your mudras. Though, the exact visualization and affirmation will depend on the mudra you are using.

Enhancing Though Music, Colours, And More

There are many more ways that you can enhance your mudra practice. Essentially, anyway in which you can influence your mood can also be used to enhance your meditation practice.

For instance, consider music.
If you visit a meditation retreat, a rehabilitation center, a luxury spa, or anywhere else that is designed to get you feeling a certain way, you will hear relaxing and uplifting music.

You already know the beneficial effects music can have. And you can use music to enhance your mudra practice too.

Music that creates the right mental state can be used during your mudra practice. For instance, if you are practicing the Apan mudra to relax, you might like to put on some relaxing classical music. Or if you are using the Ksepana mudra, which produces happiness and positivity, you might like to put some uplifting music on.

Just as you can match music to mood, you can do the same thing with colors.

Color psychology can be used to help create the right mood in the room you are practicing your mudras in.

There are many more ways in which you can enhance your practice. Try a variety of ways to produce the right mood for you.

There are many mudras that can help with physical health problems (for example, these mudras for weight loss). The majority of these mudras come from Chinese medicine and are based on the Five Element Theory.  It can seem quite bizarre that putting your hands into a specific position can help with a health problem in, for instance, your lungs. But once you actually try the mudras you can feel the difference for yourself.

It is worth noting that the mudras should not be used by themselves to cure health problems.
If you are suffering from a health problem you shouldn’t look at mudras as the be-all-end-all answer to your problems. Instead, they offer additional support.
The best health system is a holistic one like Ayurveda, that includes mudras alongside diet and exercise.

When you use a mudra for a specific health problem you will usually use one specific mudra every day for a number of weeks or even months. It takes many months or years for most diseases to form, so it takes quite a long time for a mudra to heal the problem.