One of the most important lessons for yogis to learn is that yoga is much more than asana classes.
As you dive deeper into your practice, you’ll find scores of philosophy, breathing techniques, cleanses, meditations and other wellness practices. All of these are part of the sprawling lineage of yoga. A well-rounded yoga practice involves all parts of our being and body, all the way down to our fingertips — literally.
Yoga Mudras can be thought of as asanas for your fingers. But rather than acrobatic hand stretches, mudras are “seals” or hand gestures we make for a specific energetic intention. There are many mudras for different intentions and styles of yoga. Perhaps you may be familiar with anjali mudra, more commonly known as “hands to heart-center” or “prayer hands” or gyan mudra, thumb and index finger touch.
Today, we’re exploring Surya Mudra – the seal of the Sun. We’ll cover the energy behind the practice, how to perform Surya Mudra, precautions to take, and if it actually works.
What Does Surya Mudra Mean?
In direct translation, Surya means “sun” in Sanskrit. I’m sure you’ve heard Surya Namaskar in class before, meaning sun salutation. And as you now know, mudra can be translated to mean “gesture”. So a literal translation of Surya Mudra is “sun gesture”.
Traditional yogis believe there are five elements: earth element, fire element, water element, air element, and ether/space element present in the human body.
Each of the five elements in the human body holds a unique purpose. The Sun is a representation of the fire element.
The fire element is associated with the third chakra, manipura or solar plexus chakra. This chakra is all about life force energy and personal power.
So the practice of Surya Mudra is an energy booster, as it strengthens the Sun energy present in the body. Think about it, when you think about the sun’s energy what do you think? Uplifting, awakening, energizing, improved mental health, just to name a few aspects.
Surya mudra is also known as agni mudra. Agni translates from Sanskrit to mean “fire element” which is why this practice can be called Agni Mudra or Agni Vardhak Mudra (the mudra that increases the fire element), or even Prithvi Shamak Mudra.
As is the nature of energetics, when one element rises, another one falls. So while performing Surya Mudra increases the fire element, it reduces the earth element in the body.
Meaning, energetically, Surya Mudra increases inner body strength, power & energy, improved digestion & circulation, and creative inspiration.
What Is the Benefit of Surya Mudra? The Mudra for Weight Loss
There are many benefits yoga mudras, both physical and energetic. Practicing Surya Mudra is no exception.
Perhaps one of the most well known benefits of Surya Mudra is that it facilitates weight loss. According to Ayurveda, the holistic medicine practice of India, the fire element is key in digestion, interesting how we see the same in studying the third chakra. And as the Agni Vardhak Mudra increases the fire element in the body, a regular practice is said to help with reducing weight. Because of this, it’s often known as the “weight loss mudra.”
Who knew holding your fingers in a simple hand gesture could help you lose weight, right?
However, this is a wonderfully applicable yoga mudra for many benefits aside from weight loss. Performing Surya mudra activates heat in the body, which can help to cleanse and detoxify the body. It can help regulate body temperature, especially if you’re running a bit cold. It’s a great mudra for creating energy, easing stomach pain, and reducing swelling in the body.
Also if there’s an excessive accumulation of stagnant or heavy energy in the body, Surya mudra is a wonderfully applicable mudra that helps to get that flowing again.
To sum up, the major benefits of practising Surya mudra include:
- Increases metabolism
- Regulates body temperature
- Creates Energy
- Detoxifies the body
- Regulates the Thyroid Gland
- Stimulates the digestive system
- Activates the body’s metabolism
- Can stimulate weight loss
- Improves vision
How to Do the Surya Mudra
Now that you’ve learned about the benefits this mudra awakens in the body, through this hand gesture, let’s walk through how to do the Surya Mudra. This practice can come before you begin a yoga class, during your morning meditation, or any time you’d like to produce heat in the body.
- First, start in a comfortable, seated position. You can be seated in a chair if you have painful joints, or on the floor. If you have pain in your low back when seated on the floor, try placing a cushion or a blanket underneath your seat.
- Before you begin, rest your hands on your lap with palms facing up. Close your eyes and lower your gaze (yes, you can do both!).
- Take a deep breath in for a count of four. Exhale for a count of four. Repeat these breathing exercises three times, or until your body and mind start to relax.
- To begin the mudra, draw your ring finger(also known as anamika finger) in towards the base of your thumb. Then take your thumb and rest it on your ring finger. Apply moderate pressure, but make sure it’s not overly uncomfortable for you. Your other three fingers (little finger, middle finger, and index finger) should stay extended.
- Continue to take deep breaths while holding the gesture. Make sure that the ring finger tip touches the base of your thumb. You can stay here anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes. Deepening the breath, and noticing your body temperature as you do.
- To release the hand gesture, begin with the thumb and then the ring finger to meet the other fingers.
When Should You Do Surya Mudra?
As this gesture produces heat in the body and honors the Sun, it’s best to practice Surya Mudra first thing in the morning. As with most yoga mudras, it is of great importance to make the practice intentional. Mudras are most often paired with a meditation practice or a pranayama (breathing process) exercise.
You want to avoid practicing surya mudra when you already have the fire element present in your body: middle of the day, when pitta dosha is dominant, or when you’re feeling super high-energy. This keeps us from excessive heat production in the body.
You want to do this practice in a calmer state, like a kapha timeframe such as first thing in the morning as the sun rises. If you’re like, what are you talking about “kapha timeframe” check out this article about the Ayurvedic clock.
For the best results, make sure this is a regular practice.
Experience Surya Mudra for yourself with this FREE practice on YouTube:
Precautions With Practicing Surya Mudra
As with any practice, there are some precautions to remember for this mudra.
- Do not perform Surya Mudra if you are running a fever, as it will continue to increase the fire element in your body. When we have a fever there is already an imbalance of fire element residing in our bodies. We don’t want to further accentuate it.
- If practicing outdoors in the summertime, be sure to sit somewhere shaded where you won’t get overheated.
- Drink a glass of water before your Surya Mudra practice. This keeps you from becoming dehydrated.
- Those looking to gain weight should not practice Surya Mudra.
- Those who often run hot, or identify as Vata Dosha should practice Surya Mudra sparingly.
Does Surya Mudra Really Work?
As with a lot of holistic practices, our mudra of the sun is purely based on energetics. However, just because modern science has yet to “prove” the benefits, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It took hundreds of years for science to catch up to the beneficial practices of yoga.
Also, there’s power in our intentions. We vastly underestimate the power of our brains. As we practice yoga, we begin to find more and more truth in the old phrase: “you create your reality.”
In the energetic sense, our ring finger represents the fire element, and our thumb represents the earth element. So we can see the correlation between what the mudra means, joining fire elements and earth elements to create a balance, and how it manifests in our bodies.
In the end, it’s always your choice how much you choose to believe in the power of the mudra or any energetic practice for that matter. But if you have an intention and you consciously work to align your body and mind with it, that’s the true practice of the yoga mudra.
The benefits of Surya Mudra are incredible. Just by touching your ring finger to your thumb with intention during your morning practice you can increase not only your digestive fire but your creative fire as well. Not only making changes to your physical human body but your energetic body!
Balancing the thyroid gland alone is a feat that a lot of people in the modern world are looking for.
Don’t slack on mudras when it comes to your daily practice, there are so many to choose from. From prana mudra to vayu mudra there is a mudra for practically everything.
So what are you waiting for? Roll out your yoga mat and get started with this mudra of fire balance, Surya Mudra.
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