Mudra means “seal” in Sanskrit.  It’s a symbolic or ritual gesture using primarily the hands.  Each position is believed to have a specific effect.  Specific positions can lead to specific states of consciousness symbolized by the hand positions.  For example, if a person frequently and with feeling does a position of fearlessness, they will also be freed from fearfulness in time.  Mudras are said to engage areas of the brain and/or soul influencing them, sometimes physically, by their use—not unlike an affirmation, or reflexology for that matter.

“One way that all of us can better care for ourselves is by developing techniques for coping
with the irritations and anxiety that are part of life…

Think of these gestures as self-talk for your hands. These simple movements, the gestures
that we often make unconsciously, can help us focus on our work, calm ourselves, release anger and energize us. Used for centuries by many different cultures, mudras are seen in Eastern dance and meditation, in ancient Egyptian friezes, even in Byzantine icons of Christ. Most of us use them today, too: we wave goodbye, we press a hand to our chest in distress, we wriggle our fingers to release energy, or press fingertips together to calm ourselves.

Easy to learn, mudras can be done anywhere, at any time: at traffic lights, in meetings, in
airplanes, when we’re arguing, when we’re grieving, when we need to prepare for sleep. The word mudra can be translated from the Sanskrit as that which brings inner peace, and that s what mudras are: a physical means of quieting our bodies.”  Product description for Mudras: Ancient Gestures to Ease Modern Stress by Emily Fuller Williams.

A great video about mudras:


Cheerfulness: Chase away sadness Mudra

I smiled when I saw this mudra because I used to sleep this way all of the time when I was younger and still find myself waking up with clenched fists. I wonder if I was trying to create my own cheerfulness. As my yoga home studio base closes (and will be closed by the time you read this), I have been searching for ways to raise my mood as I transition to my new location. This mudra is said to raise your mood “much like breathing in the scent of lavender does.”

How to do it:

  • Sit straight and tall.
  • Put your hands on either side of your navel, palms up, fingers facing each other.
  • With each hand, make a fist with your thumb inside.
  • Relax your shoulders.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly for 3 minutes.

Special Note: 
A couple of the author’s clients have said they get a build-up of too much energy in their thumbs when they do this mudra. Stick thumbs out between your index finger and middle finger to make it slightly less powerful.

A second source* describing this mudra—adds visualization:

Inhaling, wrap all four fingers over your thumbs on both hands making closed fists.
-Pause at the top of the inhale and “hear” the sound of OM.
-Exhaling, unravel fingers and draw your navel toward spine.
-“See” fears, stress releasing with the exhale.
-Repeat 6 more times for a total of 7.
-Gently stretch your body.

Sources:  Mudras—Ancient Gestures to Ease Modern Stress, by Emily Fuller Williams