Do you make a circle with your thumb and index finger when you meditate? That is Gyan (or Jñana) Mudra! What does it mean? And how can this mudra help?
Gyan Mudra, the Mudra of Wisdom
“Gyan” or “Jñana” is a Sanskrit word meaning “knowledge, wisdom”. A mudra is a symbolic or ritual hand gesture.
See What is a mudra?
Hence, Gyan Mudra is known as the “Knowledge or Wisdom Mudra”.
When placing hands on the thighs or knees, this mudra can be done either with palms facing up, or palms facing down.
When palms face down, it is often also called Chin Mudra, the Mudra of Consciousness. And when palms face up, it is called Gyan Mudra.
(Note: There are different variations around the names of Gyan (or Jñana) and Chin Mudras. Some teachers call it Gyan Mudra when your palms are up, others when they are down. Some speak of Chin Mudra when the palms are up and Gyan when they are down. For this article I based the info on Indu Arora’s extensive work on mudras, in which Gyan Mudra = Palms up and Chin Mudra = Palms down). Just know you’ll find the same mudra called differently).
How to do Gyan Mudra?
Make a circle with the tips of your thumb and forefinger touching. Soften the other fingers.
When to use Gyan Mudra?
A mudra for better concentration, and –say the sages- to get a step closer to wisdom!
So get your Gyan Mudra on in meditation and in pranayama practice!
A mudra : for a sharper mind and better focus (hint : Great for Studying!)
Besides meditation and pranayama, Gyan Mudra helps concentrate when learning / studying, and when taking an exam (pen in one hand, mudra in the other!).
I remember learning this mudra when I was in elementary school, and doing it to study for assessments (it wasn’t as convenient for piano lessons)! Then, by the time I was in high school and university, I no longer practiced this mudra for exam cramming. Sigh! Maybe a more regular practice would have saved me long evenings in front of my books!
In yoga, Gyan Mudra (Wisdom) or Chin Mudra (Consciousness) are most often done sitting, for meditation or pranayama.
For example, you can place your hands on your thighs, in Sukhasana (sitting cross-legged), in Virasana (Hero’s Pose), in Padmasana (Lotus Pose)… Many yogis also do this mudra in more active postures, like Vrksasana (pronounced “Vrikshasana”), Tree Pose, or any other pose where the hands are free!
What does Gyan Mudra mean?
It symbolizes the Connection to the Universe
In Ayurveda, the Thumb represents the element Fire (Agni), and the index finger symbolizes Air (Vayu). In this mudra, you connect the thumb and index, meaning your are connecting the elements Fire and Air. From an Ayurvedic point of view, this mudra increases the element Air in the body. Air, or Vayu, is associated with the functions of the nervous system and the brain (among others things). This explains the effect of this mudra on concentration and relaxation.
The index is also associated with the Ego, the Individual Self or Individual Consciousness. The thumb is associated with the Universal Self or Universal Consciousness, with the Universe.
With this mudra, we are connecting our Individual Self to our greater Self and the Universe that is greater than us.
Well, that’s quite a feast! Rock your Gyan Mudra and become the entire Cosmos! WOOT!
For more on mudras and meditation
More on mudras and the elements (Fire, Air, Water, etc.) associated with the fingers, check out: What is a mudra?
Info on mudras in meditation, pranayama and asana and how to use them to deepen your yoga practice, see How to use mudras? (coming up – Read it in French!)
And here are some other mudras to inspire your hands, body and soul!
Vishnu Mudra, the Mudra for Alternate Nostril Breathing (coming up)
Ahamkara Mudra to live the life you want!
Ganesha Mudra, to cultivate courage
Abhaya Mudra, to dispel fear and be You!
Padma Mudra, Lotus mudra, to open up your heart to Love