Mudras are important practices in yoga. Mudra means a “sign” or a “seal” in Sanskrit. Mudras are various yogic gestures or positions using the fingers, hands, eyes or other parts of the body to channelize energy in a certain way. It can indicate a certain inner state of mind.
Yoni Mudra is so called because the practice leads the yogi to a state of mind similar to the one experienced in the womb. Yoni Mudra involves closing the two ears, the two eyes, the nose and the mouth with the fingers. This helps to cut off all the external inputs to the sense organs and the gaze of the practitioner is fixed on the inner activity.
Maha Bheda Mudra or the Great Piercing Attitude is mentioned in both Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and Gheranda Samhita. In Sanskrit, Maha means great, Bheda means to pierce and Mudra means a gesture, attitude or seal. Maha Bheda Mudra is to be practiced along with Maha Mudra and Moola Bandha. It is highly recommended by yogis.
Maha Mudra or the Great Gesture is the first Mudra mentioned in both Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and Gheranda Samhita. In Sanskrit, Maha means great and Mudra means a gesture, attitude or seal. Maha Mudra is a technique to raise the human consciousness to higher levels and for improving health.
Nabho Mudra or the sky mudra involves the tongue touching the upper palate and is similar to Kechari mudra. In Sanskrit, the word ‘nabha’ indicates sky and mudra means a gesture. Nabho mudra is mentioned in Gheranda Samhita and is practiced by meditators from various traditions.
Manduki Mudra or the frog gesture involves rotating the tongue inside the palate and drinking the nectar that is secreted from the top of the head. Manduki mudra is mentioned in the Gheranda Samhita.
Kechari Mudra is considered the king among mudras. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Kha’ indicates Brahman or the Supreme Reality and ‘Chara’ means to move. Kechari Mudra helps the practitioner to move in the blissful infinite consciousness of Brahman. Kechari is an advanced practice that enables the yogi to reach higher states of consciousness.
Nasikagra Drishti or Agochari Mudra means “Nose tip gazing”. In Sanskrit, ‘Nasika’ means the nose and ‘agra’ means the end or the tip. ‘Drishti’ means the sight. Thus, Nasikagra Drishti literally means gazing at the tip of the nose. Nasikagra Drishti is a powerful practice to develop concentration and is used in conjunction with many meditation techniques.
Shambhavi Mudra is a highly regarded practice in yogic and tantric texts. Shambhavi is a powerful mudra used during meditation to still the mind and to experience higher stages of consciousness. Shambhavi mudra is mentioned in the yogic text Gheranda Samhita. It essentially involves gazing at the eyebrow center.
Ashwini Mudra is done by contracting the anal sphincter muscles in a rhythmic manner. It is observed that horses are adept in doing this. Ashwini Mudra comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Ashwa’ which means a horse and mudra means gesture or sign.