Anjali Mudra or Prayer Pose is one of the simplest positions in all of Yoga. However, it is a shape we come back to time and time again.
It can be performed both as a standalone posture or incorporated into a variety of other poses, such as Malasana, Chair Pose or Low Lunge Pose. It is often seen in twisting postures like Revolved Chair Pose or Revolved Side Angle Pose, and it is also often performed behind the back, as in Pyramid Pose or the Wide-Legged Forward Bend.
Of course, the simple gesture of bringing the hands together in front of the heart and bowing the head slightly isn’t just seen in Yoga. It is common to virtually all of the spiritual traditions of the world as a sign of reverence and humility. Even spiritual traditions without much connection to each other share this simple gesture.
What is it about Anjali Mudra that makes it such a common practice?
The Meaning of Anjali Mudra
In the Hindu tradition, Anjali Mudra is related to the word Namaste, and is often given in conjunction with this greeting.
It is a sign of deep respect where the two sides of the body, each of them representing different aspects of a persons energetic makeup, are brought together and bound. This symbolizes spiritual unification but it also symbolizes humility. It’s almost as if the person performing Anjali Mudra is offering their hands to be bound in complete surrender.
The word Namaste is often translated as “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.” This is the sentiment that Anjali Mudra is meant to express.
How To Do Anjali Mudra
Stand with the feet together and the spine long and straight. Draw the hands together in front of the heart with the thumbs touching the breast bone and the other fingers together. There should be a gap between the palms of the hands as if you are gently holding something in between them.
Bow the head slightly and either close the eyes or relax the gaze.
Anjali Mudra is the ideal time to set an intention for your practice or to express gratitude towards your spiritual teachers or towards the divine.
It is also a great position in which to chant mantras or affirmations.
The Benefits of Anjali Mudra
1. Anjali Mudra is the Perfect Centering Pose
In the philosophy of Hatha Yoga, the two sides of the body are said to correspond with two different aspects of our psyche. One side is analytical and controlling, the other side is creative and nurturing. This is roughly analogous to the different roles of the right and left side of the brain that modern science has revealed to us.
It’s fascinating that the ancient yogis had this same intuition without the help of modern technology!
When we take Anjali Mudra it is said that we are combining these opposing forces to bring the subtle body into alignment and achieve a state of optimum psychic stability.
2. Anjali Mudra Helps to Create Flexibility in the Hands, Wrists, and Fingers
Though its benefits are not mainly physical, Anjali Mudra is a great way to stretch to hands, wrists and fingers, in preparation for bearing weight in more vigorous yoga poses. In order to accomplish this, take a slightly more active position with your arms slightly away from your body, your elbows flaring slightly out and the palms pressing into each other.
3. Anjali Mudra Helps to Calm the Mind
Anjali Mudra is a great way to take a moment out of your day to calm your mind and express gratitude for what you have. Sometimes a little mini-practice like this can have enormous benefits if you suffer from symptoms of anxiety or depression.
4. Anjali Mudra Helps to Remind us to Consider the Spiritual Aspects of Our Practice
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of Anjali Mudra is that it symbolizes that what we are doing when we practice Yoga is not simply a physical exercise. It is a spiritual symbol that reminds us that we are not only exercising our body, we are also exercising our ability to know ourselves and to be compassionate towards others.
5. Anjali Mudra is a Gesture of Respect
When we take Anjali Mudra we show our respect towards our teachers and the other practitioners we might be practicing with, honouring them as partners on the journey towards the ultimate goal of yoga. Union with the divine.
Anjali Mudra, like so many things in Yoga, is a pose with subtle but profound effects that transcend the physical aspects of our practice.
Have you ever wanted to explore the spiritual side of your yoga practice in an immersive environment?