Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Give Me Hand - An Introduction to Mudras by Meredith LeBlanc

One of the biggest dilemmas for me when I started my meditation practice was what to do with my hands. Should I fold them? Hold them? wave them? Should I scratch my ankle? Having a job for the hands keeps them from getting fidgety: enter the mudra.

Mudras are yoga asana, postures, for the hands and the aid us in fine tuning the energy in the body. Connecting with certain spots of the hands help to access specific areas of the physical body and the different energy centers.

The most common mudra is jnana mudra; jnana means knowledge. The tips of the index finger  and thumbs touch, middle, ring & pinkie extend, with the palms facing up. (The same position with the palms facing down is chin mudra.) Commonly depicted in yoga media, it is familiar and this the mudra I  introduce first to students.

The thumb is the boss; it represents our big “S” self (divinity/higher power) and the macrocosm (external world). The index finger is the little ”s” self (the ego) and our microcosm (our internal world). By joining them we’re creating a circuit to balance that which is greater than ourselves with our material self, much like syncing your computer with your cell phone or iPod.

To help newer meditation students to get to know their breath and get in touch with their hands I came up with simple 10 minute practice with jnana mudra and a knuckle breath count.
  1. Breaths per minute (BPM): using a timer set for one minute, count the breaths you take during a minute. The breaths should be natural not forced. Take an inhale and count on the exhale. (I like to repeat the process a total of 3 times and take an average of the 3 outcomes.) 
  2. Find a comfortable seat. Place the right hand on the right thigh in jnana mudra, tips of index finger and thumbs touching, remaining fingers extended. Take a few cleansing breaths: deep inhale, exhale through the mouth. 
  3. Place the left hand on the thigh palm up. Bring the tip of the thumb to the first knuckle on the index finger closest to the palm (see knuckle marked #1 in the picture). Take your breathe per minute, BPM, on #1. Move the tip of the thumb to #2 knuckle (see picture!) and repeat your BPM. Continue to move the tip of the thumb around the knuckles clockwise as numbered up to #10. 
  4. Take a nice deep inhale in gratitude. Shake out the arms and legs. Stretch any way that feels natural. 
This practice helps to train the mind to focus on the breath through counting and following the left hand knuckles, while the right hand in mudra brings balance into the body, mind, and spirit. It helps to remove the time pressure since you are acting as the timer rather than a clock you want to look at. If 10 minutes seems too much at first, try 5 ~ a few minutes is better than none.

Enjoy and breathe!

Meredith LeBlanc has been a yoga & meditation practioner since 1996. She expresses herself through The Pondering Yogini ( and The Scarlet Sutras ( She works as yoga teacher and also in an office keeping things running smoothly. She shares her life with her husband Mike and her pug Scarlet. She enjoys reading, beading, and gardening. Recently Meredith started taking Kundalini yoga classes and is thoroughly enjoying being a student of something new.


  1. Meredith - you rock! You have taught me so much through your wonderful blog about mudras and mantras and all things yoga! THANK YOU!

    Diggin the new background for your blog.