Bandhas, mudras, and mantras… oh my!
The Sanskrit word bandha means “to bond, catch hold of or lock.” There are 3 primary bandhas: 1) jalandhara bandha, 2) uddiyana bandha, and 3) mula bandha. These bandhas, or locks, are created by contracting specific parts of the body to seal in the vital energy (prana) of the breath. The bandhas form the core strength of the body and are engaged throughout the practice to provide internal support.
To read more about bandhas check out our blog post “Bandhas for Beginners.”
The Sanskrit word mudra is translated as “gesture or attitude.” In yoga meditation practices at the beginning and end of class teachers may cue a specific hand gesture or position of the hands. When using a fixed, repetitive posture or gesture it helps set up a link between the body, mind, and prana (flow of energy). The aim is to help the body and mind snap into an instinctive, habitual pattern to aid in meditation.
Here are a few of the more common mudras you can begin to incorporate in your meditation practice:
- Jnana mudra or gyana mudra (for stability and grounding): Fold index finger to base of thumb OR touch tip of index finger to the tip of thumb. Straighten the other three fingers and relax. Place hands on the knees with palms facing down.
- Chin mudra (for energizing): Performed the same as Jnana mudra except palms face up.
- Dhyana mudra (meditation seal): This mudra can be seen in many eastern religions such as Buddhism. Rest your hands upturned at your navel with the right hand on top. Bring thumbs together touching at the tips to form a triangle.
In Sanskrit a mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid in meditation.
Here are a few common mantras you may hear in class:
- OM: In class you may hear the word “om” chanted at the beginning or end of class. “Om” is the universal sound and is chanted to invoke the life force energy of the universe.
- SHANTI: Another mantra is “shanti” which means peace and can be chanted along with “om” as in “Om, shanti, shanti, shanti.”
- SOHUM: Means “I am.” Can be used to help you focus during meditation. As you inhale, silently repeat the word “So” and as you exhale silently say “hum”.
Congratulations on learning about yoga bandas, mudras, and mantras! To continue learning you can click here to see the schedule of upcoming classes at HEAL Yoga or contact us at (801) 436-7680 to learn more.
Heal Yoga Studio in Ogden, Utah specializes in yoga for the individual even in a group setting. We believe that to heal the world, we must first heal ourselves.
Morgan Byrne is an instructor at Heal Yoga Studio and a RYT 200 hr Yoga Alliance certified teacher. She received her training at Sampoorna Yoga in Goa, India.