10 Mudras to Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Mudras are hand gestures and symbols that have a whole world of benefits. They were devised by the ancient sages after many lifetimes of meditative analysis. They discovered that by doing certain hand symbols steadily, religiously (as a regimen, not part of religion), everyday, there were discernible improvements in many areas of our health. These mudras appear still, but they throb with life shakti or energy or ‘prana’, as they popularly say, to energize humans at specific areas. Use the following 10 mudras this guide to remove energy blockages and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in your life!

Stress is a factor that needs no introduction to people. Life itself is fraught with stress all the time. Today, we are assailed by many lifestyle ailments, that can mean many things- it could be diabetes or hypertension, going on to stress, and even depression. Since stress and anxiety are psychosomatic, as a society, we tend to brush them under the carpet, due to the fact that there are no discernible or visible outcomes of these ailments. That being the case most of the time, we are no longer proactive with regard to the effects and when everything goes out of control, then we realize that it should not have reached where it has. 

 However, mudras need not only be specific to hand and finger gestures; they can involve the body too, which means, they are poses or semi- asanas, which are also extremely beneficial to the person practicing it. The following are some mudras, which can be done on-the-go. So, in our fast paced life, we can choose to practice the mudras alongside the other diurnal tasks that form part of our life. 

The Best 10 Mudras to Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Depression

  1. Apana Vayu Mudra
  2. Chin Mudra
  3. Prana Mudra
  4. Anjali Mudra
  5. Kaleswara Mudra
  6. Uttarabodhi Mudra
  7. Agni Shakti Mudra
  8. Vayu Mudra
  9. Viparita Karani Mudra
  10. Prithvi Mudra

Below we explore all ten mudras. They are all helpful for reducing stress levels and anxiety in our lives. However, we do not have to start practicing all of them, especially all at once! Since each one of us is unique, it is important that we follow a set of mudras very diligently, everyday. This not only helps us against stress and anxiety, but also gives us the mental strength to handle any kind of duress. At moments, when stress tries to get the better of us, while we go through trying moments in life, we need to first of all, sit in a place quietly, and then as we start deep breathing- the ujjyayi pranayama, which is the best breathing practice for all kinds of psychosomatic issues, we need to keep our hands and fingers in the mudras of our choice.

For example, we can choose to do Apana Vayu mudra and the chin mudra for about 20 minutes each, during our breathing practice. This, if done meticulously, as a set time-table, will sink deep into our subconscious mind and will directly address the issue that looms large. 

Likewise, someone else may be comfortable, doing the Kaleswara mudra and the agni shakti mudra. And by constant and continuous practice, they will definitely become well- versed in the exact way the hands and the fingers have to be placed. 

1. Apana Vayu Mudra

This is one of the time- tested mudras to make one become calm instantly , while in a very difficult situation. The instruction is: the moment you sense a wave of panic attack coming your way, sit down, relax, then breathe easy; breathe the Ujjyayi pranayama and then slowly adopt this Apana Vayu Mudra in your hands and place your hands on your thighs. Hold the mudra and continue the Ujjyayi breath for at least 20 minutes. Bend the ring finger and the middle finger, then try to touch the tips of these two fingers to the tip of the thumb.

Hold in this position for sometime. By practicing this mudra, one can calm the body, regulate the heartbeat, including anxiety attacks, instantaneously for immediate relief. The Apana Vayu Mudra brings immediate calmness to the person practicing it; it is like a wave of cool air sweeping over us. Have you ever wondered what happens to one who is experiencing panic attacks? It is not only heavy and labored breathing; it is also the solar plexus, which experiences intense pain in the pit of the stomach- due to the panic factor or the fear aspect.

The practice of this mudra helps in stabilizing and steadying the body. It has a soothing effect. This Apana Vayu, in our body, helps in regulating the outward flow of the prana – ‘breath’ from the body and is also responsible for the steps of waste and toxin removal from the body. By practicing the Apana Vayu Mudra, we become extremely aware the anxiety and the heartache, we allow our body to relax and pave the way for cardio- vascular strengthening.

Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Apana Vayu Mudra
Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Apana Vayu Mudra

2. Chin Mudra

The Chin Mudra is a mudra that is universally used by many people while doing meditation and asana. One of the foremost reasons is that the Chin Mudra helps to ground the person who is practicing it, bringing the practitioner closer to the earth element. It is said that the ancient saints and the gurus attributed this mudra to creating a sense of safety and peacefulness around the person practicing it. 

The Chin Mudra reduces blood pressure and also mitigates the feelings of stress and the anxiety levels that develop as the stress factor escalates. It also helps remove the toxins in the system and removes negative thoughts that seep into our minds, making us emotionally strong. In this mudra, touch the tips of the thumb and the index finger and then stretch the other three fingers.

This mudra helps to achieve a state of calmness and then expels all the negativity from our minds, making us feel happy and light. It also brings about a vibrant mood. It removes the dull feeling that besets us, brings on a great deal of a cheery spirit. This mudra activates the root chakra and grounds us. From this stage, it brings in the much needed calmness in our psyches. It also helps in improving our memory and helps us to focus on things better.

3. Prana Mudra

The Prana mudra, as the name suggests, has the prana or the life force energy in focus; By practicing this mudra, our personality becomes a clear carrier of the prana, and along with it comes the removal of many blockages, so that the energy flows without any deterrents; it also means the person practicing it becomes energized with the much needed prana. Although, the flow of the prana is uninterrupted, it also means, that there is no lackluster feeling in the personality. 

There is also a wonderful calmness that descends over us. As for every mudra, sit in Vrajrasana or the thunderbolt position or if this is difficult, sit in Sukhasana or the Padmasana (lotus pose). Let the thumb of both the hands touch the tips of the ring finger and the middle finger, while the rest of the fingers are stretched out close to them. Sit quietly, closing your eyes and take in deep slow breaths, in the Ujjyayi pranayama mode. This mudra is the mother of all the mudras, and hence the name, Prana mudra.

 Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Remove energy blockages and increase the flow of prana with the Prana Mudra
Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Remove energy blockages and increase the flow of prana with the Prana Mudra

4. Anjali Mudra

 Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Anjali Mudra. Also used to promote peace and calm and to greet others!
Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Anjali Mudra. Also used to promote peace and calm and to greet others!

The Anjali Mudra is a universal form of greeting in many cultures; press the palms of both the hands against each other. It means that we salute the divinity in the person in front of us; By acknowledging the greatness of the person you show this symbol or mudra to, your ego no longer exists. This is a mudra that has been in existence from time immemorial- the palms when placed against each other helps to create a sense of peace and calm in the person doing this mudra. This mudra is accompanied with a gentle smile on the face, which happens as a very natural instinct. Hence the aspects of a pleasant demeanor and a sense of calm happens by itself.

The unique feature about tis mudra is that, it helps to enhance the attitude or the state of mind when we are in this mudra- so we can visualize a white luminous light surrounding us as we do it, in the seated position, and also in our hearts plant the feeling that everything is peaceful in out lives, irrespective of the exact nature of what is transpiring around us. This auto-suggestive element helps to create ripples of the same in a manifold manner and reality follows the thought that was planted in the mind at the beginning when we started to practice this mudra. 

5. Kaleswara Mudra

  Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Kaleswara mudra. Try this unique mudra today to reduce feelings of nervousness and promote calm!
Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Kaleswara mudra. Try this unique mudra today to reduce feelings of nervousness and promote calm!

This mudra is as unique as it sounds. To practice this mudra, touch the tips of the middle fingers of both hands to each other. Only stretch the middle fingers open and then touch the tips. Fold or bend the rest of the fingers forward. Then, touch the joints or knuckles together. The thumb tips also touch each other. Point the thumb tips toward the chest and spread the elbows outward. By practicing this mudra, the feelings of nervousness die away, leaving the practitioner calm and steady. All fear fades away. This is a mudra with excellent and instantaneous results. Often, you can feel the flow of depression and that of anxiety, disappearing away. By doing this mudra, we liberate ourselves from the constant fears that always dog us. 

6. Uttarabodhi Mudra

The Uttarabodhi mudra is among the most popular and effective mudras to reduce stress and anxiety safely and naturally
The Uttarabodhi mudra is among the most popular and effective mudras to reduce stress and anxiety safely and naturally
This is another modification or variation known as Uttarabodhi mudra-2
This is another modification or variation known as Uttarabodhi mudra-2

The Uttarabodhi Mudra, as the name sounds, is a mudra that is similar to the Kaleswara Mudra. This too means, making the mudra with the palms of the hands joined together. Hold the hands in front of the solar plexus. Then interlink all the fingers, except for the index finger and the thumb. Both the index finger and the thumb tips should be joined together. The index fingers point to the sky direction, or the upwards direction, while the thumbs point to the floor. 

This is a mudra that has an instantaneous effect. By practicing this mudra, an agitated mind can be calmed. Additionally, any restlessness can be soothed by constantly and continuously practicing this mudra.  Not only these, but this mudra helps one to get over any kind of agitation. This is excellent when someone is in the midst of any heartache or sorrow. When the fear factor disappears, then the next step is enhanced levels of self- esteem. This boosts up the morale, and then what follows is that the overall self- confidence develops. It also is responsible for the general and holistic development of the individual.  When practiced regularly, many believe the Uttara bodhi mudra develops critical thinking, reading, and writing aspects. Over time, this helps in one getting enough clarity at all times to be able to take sound decisions. 

7. Agni Shakti Mudra

The Agni Shakti Mudra is a slightly different type of mudra. Not only the palms and fingers involved, but also the arms. The arms of both the hands are kept at shoulder level, and they are bent at the elbows, bringing the palms to the front of the chest. The palms of both hands are folded into fists and the thumb tips of both the hands touch each other. This is easy to do, but it takes some effort to remain at the same stance for longer periods, as the position may require the one practicing it to exert some pressure, trying to hold the arms at the shoulder level.

The hallmark benefit of this mudra is to help with bouts of anger or rage. Additionally, it also helps with bouts of unsteadiness in the mind trying to overcome the influences of temper and the states of anguish or depression. Immediately after getting into this position, peace and serenity find a way into the core of the psyche. The toxic states of mind, the negativity and the fearful and the anxious situations disappear forever when one starts to practice this mudra. Serenity is one of the many benefits.

 Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Agni Shakti mudra
Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Agni Shakti mudra

8. Vayu Mudra

  Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety:  Vayu mudra
Mudras to reduce stress and anxiety: Vayu mudra

The Vayu mudra, as the name itself tells us, has to do with increasing the presence of the air element in our physical body. So the air imbalances are set right in our body, with the practice of this mudra. To practice this mudra, first, sit in the Sukhasana, Padmasana or the Vajrasana position, whichever resonates with your body, for comfort is of prime important.

From here, take both hands, place them on the respective thighs. Then, bring the tip of the index finger (the pointer) to the base of the thumb. Then place the thumb tightly over the folded index finger and hold it tight. Stay in this mudra for a long time, simultaneously doing the eased inhalation and the exhalation. The immediate benefits are a calm state of mind and a pleasant nature that comes upon us. We stop being irritable, and patience is an attitude that we experience slowly. 

9. Viparita Karani

The Viparita Karani (also called the Vipareetha Karani) is a mudra that becomes an asana if held for a long time. Once in this position, people want to disengage from it. On the other hand, it means doing a position that is opposite to gravity; this mudra, when done, helps the blood flow in the opposite direction. All one has to do is, regular breathing, through the nostrils.

Then, slowly lie against the wall, or a flat surface. Raise both your legs up. The intersection of the floor and the wall should touch the bottom and we must keep the legs raised on the wall, for at least, for three minutes; we can slowly increase the time span, one we find ourselves comfortable in tis position. This is the Viparita Karani 1. The blood when it starts to go the opposite direction, or against the normal flow, it starts to relax the legs, initially. The legs are together. 

Viparita Karani Modifications

In the next step in the Viparita Karani 2, this is just a modification of the earlier mudra- the Viparita Karani 1, where we kept the legs stretched in the upward direction, together. Now, we see the Viparita Karani 2, which is a variation of the first step; the legs are stretched from here, towards  the farthest ends; (as is there in the image below). The legs are stretched to both ends and the hands can be placed on the legs, for comfort. When going through intensely painful moments, the best thing would be to catch a moment alone, then start to take deep breaths. The legs should be stretched on the wall, and kept far apart, for at least 3 minutes. 

The third image shows another variation of the Viparita Karani – after your legs are kept far apart on the wall, try to bring the knees down, as if in a  squatting position, or the Sukhasana, as it is called. The folded knees are brought together, knees bent. The soles of the feet touch each other and the outcome is a relaxation, that helps ward off panic attacks and high levels of depression.

The position helps to bring about some semblance of peace in an agitated person’s life. 

 Try this mudra, Viparita Karani 1, and its variations to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression!
Try this mudra, Viparita Karani 1, and its variations to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression!
 This modification with legs apart is known as Viparita Karani 2
This modification with legs apart is known as Viparita Karani 2
This modification is known as Viparita Karani 3 and is similar to an inverted squatting position
This modification is known as Viparita Karani 3 and is similar to an inverted squatting position

10. Prithvi Mudra

In the Prithvi (earth) mudra, the tip of the ring finger touches the thumb’s tip. As we have observed the thumb is the pivot point of all the mudras, where without it, no mudra can be done. The thumb tip and the ring finger tips touch together, in both hands, and the hands are placed on the thighs. Not only does this mudra help in alleviating the aches and pains associated with the joints in the body, but also the mental pain that we go through during times of stress. We feel agitated and then the anguish is translated to a nagging pain in the pit of the stomach- the solar plexus, where every stress translates to pain. The solar plexus is the heart of our abdomen, that can relate to the emotions that we go through.

Regularly practicing this with deep Ujjyayi pranayama, helps in steadying and grounding ourselves from the onslaught of the gamut of emotional disturbances that sweep over some of us. Who says you cannot control stress and anxiety? Of course the mudras help us get over them and protect us from falling a victim to depression. 

Prithvi mudra

Originally Posted HERE at L’Aquila Active