When someone imagines a hand gesture used in yoga or meditation practice they usually think of the Gyan mudra. It’s so part of popular culture now that people use this gesture as a way to signal they are in a peaceful zen mode.
Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu and the supreme god of Hinduism, is often depicted holding gyan mudra in his left hand. This symbolizes his divine wisdom and his role as a teacher of the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred scripture of Hinduism. In the Gita, Krishna teaches Arjuna, a warrior prince, about the spiritual paths to self realization.
In this post you will learn how to use this hand gesture and the many benefits it has for your total being.
What is Gyan Mudra?
The Gyan mudra is one of the many mudras that people believe originated in India. Mudra is a Sanskrit word meaning “gesture” or “seal”.
Gyan, also known as Jnana or chin mudra, means “knowledge” or “wisdom”. It especially points to spiritual and inner knowledge. And because you use it during meditation people also call it Dhyan mudra (Dhyan meaning meditation/contemplation).
So the Gyan Mudra helps you connect with inner knowledge and spiritual wisdom via contemplation, which will lead you to peace.
To do this gesture, bring your forefinger and thumb together to create a “seal” for energy. Keep the other fingers outstretched and relaxed.
The forefinger finger represents the air element, which is responsible for the mind and the nervous system. The thumb represents the fire element, which is responsible for the metabolism and digestion.
By joining these two fingers, we create a circuit that allows the energy to circulate within the body, rather than dissipating into the environment.
And because the index finger represents the individual soul and the thumb represents universal consciousness by bringing them together we are uniting the two.
How to Use Gyan Mudra
The Gyan mudra is easy to practice. All you need is somewhere comfortable and preferably quiet. A positive intention to connect with your higher self and a trust in the ancient wisdom of your body.
To use the Gyan Mudra in a Formal and Structured Way, Follow These Steps…
· Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your eyes closed. You can lie down if you prefer.
· Bring your hands to your knees or thighs, palms facing up. Touch the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb, forming a circle. Keep your other three fingers straight and relaxed.
· Hold this position for as long as you like. You can breathe normally or follow a specific breathing pattern. You can also chant a mantra or focus on a positive affirmation.
· To end the practice, release your fingers and bring your hands to your heart center. Thank yourself for taking the time to practice.
You can also use a different variation, called the purna gyan mudra, which means the “mudra of complete knowledge.” In this mudra, you place one hand in front of the heart instead of resting on the knees. By doing it this way you are creating the union of self and universe.
Tips to Enhance Your Gyan Mudra Practice
Here are some tips to make your practice more effective and enjoyable…
You can use gyan mudra in the morning or before studying to boost your mental clarity and alertness.
Practice gyan mudra in the evening or before sleeping to calm your mind and prepare for a restful night.
Practice this mudra with different variations, such as touching your index finger to your thumb at different points (base, middle, or nail) or changing the position of your hands (on your lap, on your chest, or above your head, like in the image above).
This simplest way to start using gyan mudra is to add it to your meditation or yoga practice, if you already do them.
Overview of the Benefits of Gyan Mudra
The ancients believed Gyan mudra has many benefits for our total well-being. Some of them are…
· It enhances memory, concentration and creativity by stimulating the brain
· Gyan Mudra balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain and harmonizes the logical and intuitive aspects of the mind.
·It calms the nervous system and reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
· Gyan Mudra enhances the pituitary gland and the pineal gland, which are responsible for regulating hormones and intuition.
· Gyan Mudra opens the crown chakra, which is the center of higher consciousness and enlightenment.
How Gyan Mudra Affects the Chakras
The Gyan mudra has a direct connection to two main chakras, the root chakra and the crown chakra.
The Root Chakra
Also know as Muladhara, is located at the base of the spine and is responsible for our sense of stability and security.
When we have a balanced root chakra, we feel grounded, confident and safe. When it is imbalanced, we may experience fear and insecurity.
The Crown Chakra
Or Sahasrara, is located at the top of the head and is responsible for our spiritual awareness and connection to the divine.
It is the source of our highest wisdom and consciousness.
When we have a balanced crown chakra we feel blissful and inspired. When we do not we feel confused and isolated.
Gyan mudra helps to activate and harmonize both the root and the crown chakras by creating a circuit of energy between them. By touching the tip of the thumb (representing supreme consciousness) with the tip of the index finger (representing individual soul), we symbolize the union of self and universe.
The Physical Benefits of Gyan Mudra
Because Gyan mudra enhances the air element in the body and the air element is responsible for the nervous system, the brain and the respiratory system. By practicing gyan mudra, one can experience various physical benefits, such as…
Improved muscular strength and coordination.
Enhanced immunity and vitality. Gyan mudra boosts the body’s défense mechanism and helps fight infections and diseases.
Reduced stress and anxiety. Gyan mudra relaxes the body by balancing the hormones and emotions.
Better memory and concentration. Gyan mudra stimulates the brain and improves cognitive functions. It helps increase focus and clarity.
Relief from headaches and insomnia. Gyan mudra regulates the blood circulation and oxygen supply to the brain. It helps ease tension and promote sleep.
Gyan Mudra and Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, gyan mudra increases the vayu element, which is responsible for air, movement and creativity.
Ayurveda states that vayu is one of the three doshas, or biological energies, that govern our physical and mental health.
It believes by balancing vayu, gyan mudra can improve our mental capabilities, nervous system function, and pituitary gland activity. And as with yogic philosophy it believes it can also calm and stabilize the mind, making it easier to enter a meditative state.
Meaning of the Fingers in Mudra Practice
Mudras can also help to balance the five elements that make up our existence. These elements are earth, water, fire, air and space.
Each element corresponds to a different aspect of our well being. There is also a specific mudra for each element that can activate or harmonize it.
Meaning of Five Elements and Fingers Associated With Them
Here is what the elements mean and some mudras in addition to the Gyan mudra that enhance and balance there elements
The earth element represents stability, strength and endurance. The earth element is connected to the root chakra, which is responsible for our security and survival.
To balance the earth element, you can practice the Prithvi Mudra, by touching the tip of your ring finger to the tip of your thumb, while extending the other three fingers. This mudra increases vitality.
The water element represents adaptability, creativity and emotion. It represents the sacral chakra, which governs our sexual energy and pleasure.
To balance the water element, you can practice the Varuna Mudra by touching the tip of your little finger to the tip of your thumb, while extending the other three fingers. This mudra enhances intuition, communication and cleansing.
The fire element represents passion, transformation and personal power. It is responsible for the solar plexus chakra, which governs our personal will and self-esteem.
To balance the fire element, you can practice the Agni Mudra by bending your ring finger and pressing it to the base of your thumb, while extending the other three fingers. This mudra increases metabolism, digestion and immunity.
The air element represents freedom, intelligence and communication. It represents the heart chakra, which governs our love, compassion and empathy.
To balance the air element, you can practice the Vayu Mudra by bending your index finger and pressing it to the base of your thumb, while extending the other three fingers. This mudra calms the mind, relieve stress and improve respiration.
The space element represents expansion, infinity and consciousness. It is responsible for thr throat chakra, which governs our expression, truthfulness and creativity.
To balance the space element, you can practice the Akasha Mudra by touching the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb, while extending the other three fingers. This mudra enhances perception, intuition and wisdom.
You can practice these mudras individually or in combination with each other to create a harmonious flow of life force energy in your body and mind. You can also use them as a tool for meditation by focusing on their meanings and effects.
If you are new, you can join a yoga class or speak to a yoga instructor to learn how to combine the different mudras and how long you should do each one.
Gyan mudra also known as Jnana Mudra, is a simple yet powerful hand gesture that can enhance your knowledge and wisdom.
The scriptures say Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna practiced this mudra.
Yogic philosophy states this mudra therapy (i.e. the practice of gyan mudra) helps you physically, mentally and spiritually.
According to tradition you practice this powerful mudra with the palms facing up and resting on your the thighs are knees as you sit. However, you can also practice it by holding one hand in front of the heart or above the head. You can also hold the index finger at different positions of the thumb, and visa versa.
You can practice during seated meditation or lying down.
By performing gyan mudra regularly, you can improve your brain function, calm your emotions and, as with the yoga mudrasana, awaken to your divine energy and universal consciousness.
The only way you are going to experience these benefits is to start, so begin this yoga mudra now. All you need to do is sit comfortably and hold the hand gesture. Even thirty seconds will make a difference!
If enjoyed this article have a look Hridaya Mudra – the Fearless Heart Mudra
If want another Mudra the transmutes ignorance into wisdom see Vajra Mudra