Saturday, May 22, 2010


Here is a technique that serves two purposes:  first, to help you stay mindful of your breath.  Second, to help you hold a posture for a set amount of time (which is especially important to ensure you are staying balanced on the left and right, holding postures for the same amount of time on each side).

The 4 hand positions, or mudras of touching the fingers to the thumb, can be linked to the breath to keep track of the time you are in each pose.  In essence, holding postures for at least 4 breaths to begin with.  As you get stronger and stronger, you can add more breath and repeat the mudra sequence a second and third time.

 Each Mudra helps to cultivate a specific feeling, and represents an archetypal meaning.

Gyan Mudra, touching the index finger to the thumb,  makes you feel connected to something greater.  "Gyan" means "wisdom" or "enlightenment" in sanskrit. The thumb, represents divine energy.  The index finger (or "Jupiter finger") represents the self, or ego.  Bringing these two together gives one the feeling of touching the divine.  This mudra depicts a similar image as Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam," where God's finger is connected to Man's. There is a wonderful circular nature that the breathe takes when these two fingers touch, which is extremely soothing to the body.

Shuni Mudra, touching the middle finger to the the thumb, brings patience. "Shuni" means "Saturn." In astrology, Saturn is the planet that makes you disciplined. It has to work the hardest to circle the sun being so far away.  This mudra gives you the sensation of stability and strength.  To breathe with this mudra cultivate perserverence.

Surya Mudra, touching the ring finger to the thumb, brings energy.  "Surya" means "Sun," and this mudra brings health and vitality to the body.  It is also known for speeding up the metabolism, resonating with the third chakra to stimulate digestion.  To breath with this mudra is energizing.

Buddhi Mudra, touching the pinky finger to the thumb, brings mental clarity. "Buddhi" means "higher mind" or "intellect" (it follows the same etymology as the word "Buddha").  The pinky finger is referred to as the mercury finger.  Mercury being the message bearer, quick witted, and able to communicate. This mudra helps with gaining higher understanding and discerning intuitive messages to gain knowledge.

In my morning class, I had the students do a familiar sequence we had been working on all week, but I added these 4 mudras to each posture.  They completed each mudra for a full breath. So as they came into Warrior II, they turned their palms up and touched their index finger to their thumb on their first breath coming into Gyan Mudra.  Then as they began their second breath I had them touch their middle finger to their thumb coming into Shuni Mudra.  Then on the third breath, they touched their ring finger to their thumb coming into Surya Mudra.  Finally touching their pinky finger to their thumb on their fourth breath coming into Buddhi Mudra.  Upon completeing the four breaths, the class would transisition to the next posture beginning the whole series of Mudras again.  This practice brought a new element of concentration to each pose and the classes breath deepened dramatically and felt more united.  

The Yoga sutras say while in the posture one should focus on God.  This takes that statement one step further and allows you to open your hands to the varying aspects of the divine.  While practicing yoga you are able to contemplate enlightenment with Gyan Mudra, patience with Shuni Mudra, energy with Surya Mudra, and intuition with Buddhi Mudra.  

All integral elements to a spiritual journey.


  1. Very nice blog. Do you know about these yoga books?

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