Añjali Mudrā

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Statue with hands in most common Anjali Mudra position.

Añjali Mudrā or praṇāmāsana (Sanskrit: प्रणामासन) is a hand gesture which is practiced throughout Asia and beyond. It is used as a sign of respect and a greeting in India and amongst yoga practitioners and adherents of similar traditions. The gesture is incorporated into many yoga asanas.

Etymology[edit]

Anjali is Sanskrit for "offering", "a gesture of reverence", "benediction", "salutation", and is derived from anj, meaning "to honour or celebrate".[1]

Mudra means "seal" or "sign". The meaning of the phrase is thus "salutation seal".[2]

The gesture is also known as hrdayanjali mudra meaning "reverence to the heart seal" (from hrd, meaning "heart") and atmanjali mudra meaning "reverence to the self seal" (from atman, meaning "self").[1]

The gesture first appears c. 4000 years ago on the clay seals of the Indus Valley Civilization.[3][4]

Description[edit]

A sadhu performing Anjali Mudra at his crown chakra in front of a sculptured figure in the same posture

Anjali mudra is performed by pressing the palms of the hands together. The fingers are together with fingertips pointing up. The hands are pressed together firmly and evenly.[1]

In the most common form of anjali mudra, the hands are held at the heart chakra with thumbs resting lightly against the sternum.[1] The gesture may also be performed at the Ajna or brow chakra with thumb tips resting against the "third eye" or at the crown chakra (above the head). In some yoga postures, the hands are placed in anjali mudra position to one side of the body or behind the back.

Anjali mudra is normally accompanied by a slight bowing of the head.

Symbolic meaning[edit]

Anjali mudra has the same meaning as the Sanskrit greeting Namaste and can be performed while saying Namaste or Pranam, or in place of vocalizing the word.

The gesture is used for both greetings and farewells, but carries a deeper significance than a simple "hello" or "goodbye". The joining together of the palms is said to provide connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and represents unification or "yoking".[1][2] This yoking is symbolic of the practitioner's connection with the divine in all things. Hence, performing anjali mudra is an honouring of both the self and the other as the gesture acknowledges the divinity of both practitioner and recipient.[2]

Physical benefits[edit]

Anjali mudra is performed as part of a physical yoga practice with an aim to achieving several benefits. It is a centering pose which helps to alleviate mental stress and anxiety and is therefore used to assist the practitioner in achieving focus and coming into a meditative state.[1]

The physical execution of the pose helps to promote flexibility in the hands, wrists, fingers and arms.[1]

Use in full body asanas[edit]

While anjali mudra may be performed by itself from any seated or standing posture, the gesture is also incorporated into physical yoga practice as part of many full-body asanas including:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Salutation Seal". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2002-06-12. 
  2. ^ a b c Rea, Shiva. "For Beginners: Anjali Mudra". Yoga Journal. Archived from the original on 11 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  3. ^ http://www.khandro.net/mysterious_naga.htm
  4. ^ http://www.csuchico.edu/~cheinz/syllabi/asst001/fall97/2chd.htm
  5. ^ "Low Lunge". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  6. ^ "Monkey Pose". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  7. ^ "Garland Pose". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  8. ^ "Fish Pose". Yoga Journal. Archived from the original on 18 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  9. ^ "Wide-Legged Forward Bend". Yoga Journal. Archived from the original on 11 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  10. ^ "Mountain Pose". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  11. ^ "Upward Salute". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  12. ^ "Warrior I". Yoga Journal. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  13. ^ "Tree Pose". Yoga Journal. Archived from the original on 2 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-12.