At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, one of our main endeavors is to provide holistic information on the practices that we have expertise on: yoga, surfing, and environmental impact reduction, to name a few. We do so in our online teachings, our surf and yoga camps and retreats, in our writings, and through our various social media profiles. There is so much more than what meets the eye in all of these activities. To become responsible practitioners of them means having in-depth information about them. For example, in yoga, the physical aspect (or asana practice as it’s called in Sanskrit) is just the tip of the iceberg of the whole practice of yoga.
Learn more about yoga beyond just the asana practice, and how to take it off the mat.
Anjali Mudra is a large part of the culture and practice of yoga. In this blog, we will discuss the meaning of this common yoga practice and term. In so doing, we hope that you will walk away with not just the knowledge of what Anjali Mudra means, but when, why, and how it is used.
What does Anjali Mudra mean?
The Anjali Mudra is the practice of meeting the hands together by the sternum in a “prayer position”. This hand gesture is used frequently during the practice of yoga. It is not only used at the opening and closing of yoga classes, but also during some of the other yoga asanas. Anjali is Sanskrit term which means, “to offer” or “to salutate”, and the term Mudra means “seal”. So basically, it symbolizes that we are “honoring and celebrating this moment”.
It is important when we do our yoga practice to understand the reasons why we are doing what we are doing. That way, we can do it mindfully and with intention, so we are not just following a procedure. You may find that the Anjali Mudra salutation seal has many meanings.
An explanation from a yoga master
The explanation given by Krishnamacharya is my favorite:
“This gesture signifies the potential for an intention to progress to greatest spiritual awakening. When done properly the palms are not flat against each other; the knuckles at the base of the fingers are bent a little, creating space between the palms and fingers of the two hands resembling a flower yet to open, symbolizing the opening of our hearts.”
Once we truly understand what Anjali Mudra means and we embrace the reasons for it. This can help us ensure the position is based on humility rather than an ego expression, or to achieve perfection on a physical level.
When do you use Anjali Mudra?
Anjali Mudra is typically used to begin and end yoga classes, both to help ground, create, and seal in the deeper, personal intention of the day’s practice. We can apply it to many asanas instead of keeping our hands separate. It can serve as a reminder for us to keep an inner attitude of peace during our practice.
Here are a few of the asanas or physical postures where Anjali Mudra is commonly used:
- During mountain pose (Tadasana)
- Before Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar A and B)
- In balance postures like tree pose (Vrksasana)
In any place that a moment of grounding or centering is required, this heart prayer motion can be used with intention for great benefit to the practitioner.
Are there “benefits” or reasons to do it?
One definition of yoga is “yoke”, which means union. The union of the hands can symbolize many things. For example, unity of both sides of the brain and body. It is done with the hands in front of the heart, which promotes heart-openness. As you practice yoga, you will see that these are pinnacle concepts that repeat over and over.
Anjali Mudra is also known as Pranam Mudra, Namaste Mudra, or the prayer position. Most of the time, we perform it with our hands in the center of our heart chakra. This represents the balance and harmony between the right and left side reunited on our center. This balance can be not only physical but also mental and emotional. The idea is to bring us to the center to prepare ourselves for meditation and contemplation.
A grounding practice
As it is literally a gesture of prayer, it can be used in that end. It is often accompanied by the word namaste which means “I bow to the divinity within you from the divinity within me.” It’s a moment and action to honor the divine: oneself, one’s intention, others, or something even greater — higher purpose.
It’s a moment to come back to yourself and your intention. It promotes balance; uniting the left and right hemispheres of your brain. It’s grounding. It’s calming.
As explained by Yoga International, this can be beneficial for so many realms of your life:
When the mind is calm, harmonious, and concentrated, you gain right understanding of yourself and others. Your comprehension expands, enabling you to see the world and your place in it in a light charged with appreciation for what you truly are. Your list of complaints begins to dwindle. You are no longer uncomfortable with others or with the circumstances of your life, and so you begin to bask in a positive and joyful atmosphere, both in your internal world and outside yourself.
How can you do Anjali Mudra yourself?
Anjali Mudra provides a moment of centering, which is why it is commonly done at the beginning or end of a physical yoga practice. You can do Anjali Mudra yourself by adding it to your existing routine. Just taking a moment of intentionality at the beginning or end. Really utilize the moment to honor or connect with something great.
Another way to do Anjali Mudra is during the beginning or even throughout a meditation. Meditation is an excellent and immensely beneficial wellness practice that has wide benefits in reducing stress, promoting calmness, heightening focus, and transcending unhelpful mental patterns.
So to get started, sit down in a comfortable seated pose (Sukhasana). Place your hands together in front of your heart in Anjali Mudra. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out deeply through your nose, practicing Pranayama. Focus your mind and your attention to an intention. For example, it could be for any of the following reasons:
- Slow down the fluctuations of your mind
- Guide light and love towards someone in your life
- Simply a moment to reconnect with yourself (your wants, needs, and feelings)
Anjali Mudra will simply help to seal in this moment of honoring, celebrating, and salutation.
At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we have a number of online yoga offerings. Learn more about our virtual yoga classes, yoga courses, as well as other resources to incorporate the yoga philosophy and its numerous benefits — physical, mental, and spiritual — into your life!