“As the body becomes steady and at ease, the breath begins to come under control, the mind begins to experience peace and the journey to our true self begins…”

The Anjali Mudra

Añjali Mudrā or Pranaam-asana is a hand gesture which has a deep meaning. It is used widely as a sign of respect and a greeting in India, and among the practioners of Yoga and similar traditions. This gesture forms a part of many of the yoga asanas (postures) as well.

In the Sanskrit language, Anjali means a "gesture of reverence", a " salutation" or a "benediction". Mudra means a "seal" or a "sign". 

This gesture is also known as the Atmanjali mudra meaning " reverence to the self seal" where atman refers to one's true self. It is also known as Hrydayanjali mudra meaning "reverence to the heart seal", where Hrday means the "heart".

The Anjali Mudra is executed by pressing the palms of the hands together, the fingers are together and the fingertips pointing upwards. The hands are pressed together firmly and evenly. 

What we see most commonly practiced today is that the hands are held together at the Anahata Chakra (heart center - the Fourth energy center) with the thumbs resting very lightly against the sternum. 

A not so common practice is where the gesture is performed at the Ajna Chakra ( the center between the eyebrows - the Sixth energy center), where the thumb tips rest againgt the "third eye" or even at the Sahasrara Chakra (the crown center - the Seventh energy center). 

Thus due to the sacredness of this gesture, it is used in the Indian greeting of "Namaste" or "Pranaam". It is used to greet and well as farewell and thank.

The vedic significance of this gesture suggests that the joining together of the palms subtly brings about a connection between the left and the right hemispheres of the brain and represents the "yoking" or unification. This union is a symbolic representation of the practioners' connection and link with the divine in all things and beings. Thus, when we perform the Anjali Mudra - we honour both our own self and the other and thereby acknowledge the divinity in both the practioner and the recepient.

At this juncture then it is indeed apt to reflect on the meaning of "Namaste" and what it truly stands for.  So when you say "Namaste" or use the gesture the next time you will have an idea of what this powerful word when uttered or gesture performed conveys: