The word Jnana is the synonym for Knowledge. Here, knowledge refers to the enlightened wisdom a yogi attains in the path of yoga.
Among various ways of attaining knowledge in yoga, one of the simplest is sitting quietly in meditation holding hands in Jnana mudra.
Jnana Mudra is a popular hand gesture practiced in seated meditative posture during different yoga poses, pranayama, and meditation session. It holds yogis awareness inward in order to better stabilize the mind in one place, hence, prepare yogi for meditation.
The continuous inwardness of awareness eventually gives yogis ultimate knowledge also known as Gyan. Therefore, this Mudra is also called Gyan mudra.
It can be simply attained by locking the tip of the index finger against the thumb tip.
Jnana Mudra & The Knowledge
The term “Jnana” is derived from Sanskrit which refers to “knowledge” or “wisdom”. “Mudra” is also a composite word, where “mud” means “delight or pleasure” and “dravya” or “dru” means “to draw forth”.
According to prana yoga, the index finger represents the mobile Vayu (air) element which is attributed to an unsteady brain and the thumb represents the Agni (fire) element.
Jnana Mudra stabilizes the unsteady Vayu elements by balancing it with the Fire and brings stability to the mind. Only a stable mind can achieve wisdom or acquire knowledge, hence it’s named Jnana Mudra – the gesture of knowledge.
Also, air element efficiency gets increased when comes in contact with fire, hence it’s also called ‘Vayu vardak mudra’.
Out of Panch Tatva represented by our 5 fingers, fire and air element comes in contact in Jnana mudra. Rest three fingers remain unused straight but have symbolical meaning;
The little, ring, and middle fingers of the hand represent three qualities of nature (trigunas):
- “Tamas Guna“- stability – little finger
- “Rajas Guna“- activity and creativity – Ring finger
- “Sattva Guna“- harmony and luminosity – Middle finger
Jnana mudra shows one needs to transcend these three traits to transform the consciousness from ignorance to knowledge.
The index finger symbolizes individual consciousness (jivatma) thumb represents the supreme consciousness. In Jnana mudra, the index finger-thumb association shows the ultimate unison of two experiences (individual and supreme power) culminating yoga. It justifies mudra as one of the yoganga and also known as the ‘Mudra of wisdom’.
Practicing this mudra calms and stabilizes the mind. It boosts memory and concentration.
How To Do Jnana Mudra
One can attain Jnana mudra following this simple practice guide:
- Sit comfortably in any meditative asana, viz. padmasana, sukhasana, or siddhasana.
- Spread your palms and bring your index fingertips towards the tips of the thumb.
- Straighten the rest three fingers of both the hands.
- Place your back of hands resting on the knees with palms facing upward.
- Keep the arms and hands relaxed.
- There is no restriction for performing jnana mudra. However, it must be practiced at least 15 minutes during meditation 2-3 times per day.
- For treating insomnia, frustration, and anger practice it for 50 minutes followed by prana mudra.
Keep these alignments in mind to gain the utmost benefits of Jnana mudra.
- Keep your hands and relaxed.
- Do not overstretch the arms and ensure that they lie within the knee boundaries.
- The index finger is kept in contact with the thumb’s tip exerting minimum pressure.
- The other three fingers must be extended outwards and slightly apart from each other.
Mechanism of Jnana Mudra
While performing jnana mudra, the index finger-thumb lock produces a circuit that drives the energy inwards. This prevents the otherwise dissipation of the energy into the environment while meditation.
It is so because the fingers have many nerve root endings that constantly releases energy. Locking the finger blocks the extremities and energy travels within the body and reaches up to the brain.
Another pranic circuit is formed redirecting the prana internally when the knees are sensitized placing hands over them.
Placing hands on the knee stimulates knees, inner thighs, and finally perineum, which is the route of the hidden (Gupta) Nadi. The activation of the Gupta Nadi ultimately stimulates the Muladhara chakra. This brings a sense of grounding and increases awareness.
Jnana Mudra and Chin Mudra
Despite the same finger arrangement and the same placing of hands, Jnana mudra is different from Chin mudra.
According to Swami Muktibodhananda commentary on Hatha Yoga Pradipika;
- In Chin mudra, the index finger is bent down to reach the root of the thumb, keeping the rest three straight and separated.
While in Jnana Mudra, the index finger’s tip directly touches the tip of the thumb creating a uniform circle represents the knowledge wheel.
- Another difference is based on the placement of hands on the knees. In Chin mudra, the hands rest on knees or thighs facing down gives a grounding effect on the mind.
Whereas in Jnana Mudra the hands are placed on the knees in seated meditation with the palms facing up. It gives a feeling of spaciousness and has a subtle uplifting effect on the body and mind
- This mudra is found to be effective in curing hypothyroidism, hypopituitarism, and diabetes.
- Practicing jnana mudra is effective in treating cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and neuritis.
- It is effective in experiencing sound sleep, hence benefits people suffering from insomnia.
Jnana Mudra Benefits
1. Improves concentration
Jnana mudra is known to stabilize the mind. As the mind becomes still it eventually sharpens the brain. It boosts the memory, concentration, and comprehensibility of the practitioner.
2. Brings enlightenment
Symbolically this mudra is about acknowledging the supreme energy. Bowing to the divine force increases openness, relaxation, and serenity. It enlightens the mind, body, and soul by uplifting the energy levels.
3. Strengthens muscular system
By channeling the flow of energy (prana), jnana mudra with conscious breathing supplies fresh oxygen to the muscles. It strengthens the heart and other voluntary muscles of the body.
4. Improves endocrine system
Jnana mudra is attained by pressing the tip of the index finger against the thumb’s root. This is the acupressure point to the pituitary and pineal glands. This regulates the hormonal flow and benefits the practitioner on physical and psychic levels.
5. Calms the mind
Jnana mudra is practiced to improve the meditative practice by leaving behind the external chaos. Hence, it brings calm and alleviates mental disorders like anxiety, frustration, and stress levels.
6. Helps in overcoming addiction
By balancing the hemispheres of the brain, it brings control and awareness. Therefore, jnana mudra is a boon for people to overcome their toxic addictions by uplifting their willpower.
Practice Jnana mudra as described above to step into a pleasurable, serene, and auspicious life. This mudra is the power pack that is sufficient to bring spiritual, psychological, and physical benefits.
Revitalize and rejuvenate your energy levels by attaining jnana mudra during mediation.