anjali = a gesture of reverence, benediction, salutation (from anj, “to honor, celebrate”)
mudra = seal (The gesture “seals” energy in the body and “seals” your relationship with the Divine.)
This gesture is also known as Hrdayanjali Mudra (pronounced hri-DIE-ahn-jah-lee, hrd = heart), the Reverence to the Heart Seal, or Atmanjali Mudra (OT-mon-JAH-lee, atman = self, derived variously from an, “to breathe,” at, “to move,” or va, “to blow”), Reverence to the Self Seal
Anjali Mudra Step by Step
Sit comfortably in Siddhasana (as shown) or stand in Tadasana. Inhale and bring your palms together. Rest the thumbs lightly on your sternum.
Press the hands firmly but evenly against each other. Make sure that one hand (usually your right hand if you are right-handed, your left if left-handed) doesn’t dominate the other. If you find such imbalance, release the dominant hand slightly but don’t increase the pressure of the non-dominant hand.
Bow your head slightly, drawing the crease of the neck toward the center of your head. Lift your sternum into your thumbs and lengthen down along the back of the armpits, making the back elbows heavy.
Practicing Anjali Mudra is an excellent way to induce a meditative state of awareness. Start your practice sitting in meditation in Anjali Mudra for 5 minutes. You can also use this hand position in Tadasana prior to beginning the Sun Salutation sequence, contemplating the “sun” or light of awareness the yogis say is resident in your heart.
See also Meet in the Middle: Anjali Mudra
Modifications and Props
Press a block or thick book (about 3 to 4 inches thickness) between your palms. Spread the skin of the palms and stretch the fingers out of the centers of the palms. Use the prop to help widen your sternum and collarbones. Then recreate this same width without the block, palms touching.
Deepen the Pose
This palms-together gesture completes an energetic circuit between the hands and the heart and harmonizes the two hemispheres of the brain. See if you can discover, as you perform this gesture, the roots of the hands in the yoga or subtle heart, which unlike the physical heart is directly in the center of your chest (below the sternum and between the shoulder blades), and towards the back of the torso.
Take care not to harden the skin as you spread the palms against each other. The center of the palm should always stay soft and maintain its “dome” shape. Keep the thumbs soft too.
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Calms the brain
- Creates flexibility in the hands, fingers, wrists, and arms
- Opens the heart
Have your partner sit in front of you, also in a comfortable seated posture. Perform the gesture and have the partner cover your hands with his/hers. Sit together for a few minutes with joined hands, feeling the energetic exchange between your subtle hearts through your hands. Then reverse and cover your partner’s hands with yours.
This palms-together gesture is usually centered over the heart. But you can also raise the pressed hands to the front of your forehead or bring them slightly above and in front of the crown of your head.