Why Prayer Hands in Yoga?

Vrksasana with Anjali Mudra

Anjali Mudra (pronounced UHN-juh-lee muhd-RAAH) is a gesture that is a part of almost all yoga classes. It may be used at the beginning or end of class as well and hearing sun salutations. Anjali mudra is also referred to as prayer hands. The palms of the hands are brought together in front of the heart.

In Sanskrit, mudra means sign or seal. It refers to sacred hand gestures and body positions that bring about a certain inner state and have symbolic meaning. Anjali comes from “anj” in Sanskrit and means “to honor or celebrate”.

When the hands and fingers are placed in a particular pattern, the energy within the body can be redirected and changed. Mudras are often used during meditation and in the East, mudras have long been used medicinally. Anjali mudra opens the heart, calms and balances the mind and reduces anxiety.

By bringing our hands together at our heart center we are connecting to both the right and left sides of the brain. This is symbolic of uniting both our masculine and feminine energies. It is said that the right hand represents our divine self and the left hand represents our worldly nature.

The hand gesture of Anjali Mudra is often accompanied by the greeting Namaste which means “The light in me bows to the light in you.” We use Anjali mudra to communicate our heartfelt energy. It is a humbling gesture offered to family, friends, students and strangers.

Yogis view the spiritual or energetic heart as a lotus flower in the center of the chest. Anjali Mudra acknowledges the energetic heart and directs it to open to the light. Practicing Anjali mudra is an excellent way to induce a meditative state.

Prayer hands are often incorporated into various seated and standing postures, such as Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Tree (Vrksasana), Warrior 1 (Virbhadrasana 1) and Squat (Malasana). During Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara), Anjali Mudra can be practiced at the beginning, at the end and during the lunge sequence. Used during asana practice, this mudra is balancing and harmonizing and helps to keep us centered and positive.

Take care not to harden the pose by slamming the hands together! Press the hands together gently, maintaining a slight dome shape between the palms.

A Short Exercise for Discovering Union and Centeredness with Anjali Mudra

Start by sitting in Easy Pose (Sukhasana).

Feel your spine lengthen as your crown reaches towards the sky. Extend the back of your neck and tuck your chin slightly.

Notice the energy that rises and flows from your tailbone to your crown. Take two deep breaths here.

On your next inhalation, cross your legs the opposite way.

Open your palms and extend your arms to the side. Slowly draw your hands together at the center of your chest gathering the energy into your heart. Take two deep breaths.

Notice how both sides of our nature connect here at the heart. Bring an awareness of this centered state into your yoga practice and your day.

3 thoughts on “Why Prayer Hands in Yoga?”

  1. A question just for fun tell me Milo , My recently adopted rescue dog is 19 months old , were his 3 rd family. I learn by luck what he has been previously taught. I have a physical therapy stretch move to loosen my arthritis wrists. It looks like your prayer hands then looser wrists cup hands with fingertips toward my chest. When Milo sees this he sits then he points his muzzle upward then what dog people call play bow ( probably you call it down face dog I don’t really know yoga ) I can see this is a thing he was taught . Question what if anything is the yoga movement meaning of my movement and his response .?
    Thanks this is just for fun .

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