mudra (/muˈdrɑː/ ( listen); Sanskrit: मुद्रा, IAST: mudrā, “seal”, “mark”, or “gesture”; Tibetan: ཕྱག་རྒྱ་, THL: chakgya,) is a symbolic or ritual gesture or pose in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. While some mudras involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers.

Mudra is an ancient Sanskrit term meaning “gesture.” We use mudras in yoga to cultivate a greater sense of awareness to certain energetic fields within the subtle body. In other words, we can use them to help us meditate and open up our seven main chakras.

And there are literally hundreds of mudras, each with its own unique symbolism and placement of palms and fingertips. Here are seven lesser-known mudras I’ve chosen to give your seven chakras a little boost. You can also incorporate the mantra associated with each chakra to help enhance your meditative experience.

1. Root Chakra: The Muladhara Mudra

The root chakra is the foundation for the other chakras, with emphasis on survival and grounding.

Mantra: LAM

Bring your palms together in a prayer at your heart, then interlace the pinky and ring fingers so they fold inside of the palms. Extend the middle fingers so the tips touch and then interlace the thumbs and index fingers so they form rings around each other, with the fingertips touching. Optional step: Flip this mudra upside down and lower your arms slightly, so the middle fingers are pointed downward at your pelvic region.

2. Sacral Chakra: The Shakti Mudra

This feminine mudra for the sacral chakra works to harness sexuality and sensuality.

Mantra: VAM

With your palms in front of your chest, press your pinky and ring fingertips together. Fold your thumbs into your palms, inside of your index and middle finger. You can then press the knuckles of these two fingers together (pictured) or keep them separate. Optional step: Lower the hands to just below the navel.

3. Solar Plexus Chakra: The Rudra Mudra

This mudra brings forth the power of Shiva, the Hindu god of all yogis, for the solar plexus chakra that’s all about self-confidence.

Mantra: RAM

Place your palms face-up on your thighs. Touch the tips of the thumbs, index fingers, and ring fingers together, straightening through the pinky and middle fingers.

4. Heart Chakra: The Padma Mudra

This lotus-inspired mudra that calls forth new possibilities and invites in love is fitting for the heart chakra.

Mantra: YAM

With your palms at your heart, touch the outer edges of both pinky fingers and thumbs together. Keep the heels of the palms pressed together as you blossom open through your hands. Extend through the tips of all 10 fingers.

5. Throat Chakra: The Granthita Mudra

You can use this mudra at your throat chakra to help clear the way for expression of your authentic self.

Mantra: HAM

Interlace your last three fingers (middle, ring, and pinky) together inside of your hands. Interlock the index fingertips and thumbs to form two rings, and hold this mudra in front of the base of your throat.

6. Third-Eye Chakra: The Mudra of the Great Head

To tap into the wisdom and power of your intuition, use this mudra to channel deep into your third-eye chakra.

Mantra: AUM

Take your right hand just in front of the space between your eyebrows and curl the ring finger into your palm. Bring the tips of the thumb, middle finger, and index finger to touch, and keep the pinky finger extended long. Place the tips of the three fingers that are touching to your third-eye focal point. The left hand can remain on top of the left thigh, palm face-up or in Gyan mudra.

7. Crown Chakra: The Mudra of A Thousand Petals

Holding this mudra high above your head can open the gateway to the crown chakra’s domain of universal consciousness, divinity, and transcendence.

Mantra: Silence

Place the tips of your index fingers and thumbs together to touch, forming a pyramid shape. Allow the remaining fingers to extend upward, keeping them straight. Raise this mudra to about 6 to 7 inches above the crown of your head.

Perform the mudras in a comfortable seated position for one to five minutes each. If you’re only focusing on one mudra at a time, extend the time frame as long as you would for your regular meditation practice. Remember that there are no right or wrong ways to do mudras-enjoy these as part of your regular yoga routine to cultivate higher awareness.

Mudras are a non-verbal mode of communication and self-expression, consisting of hand gestures and finger- postures. They are symbolic sign based finger patterns taking the place, but retaining the efficacy of the spoken word, and are used to evoke in the mind ideas symbolizing divine powers or the deities themselves.

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