In this guide, we will look at the Anjali mudra benefits, position and meaning. This is the same hand gesture (or “Hasta Mudra”) used to say “namaste” and in prayer and is also called “Namaskar” mudra in Hinduism, and the most common Christian gesture. It also goes by the names Atmanjli Mudra, Namaskara Mudra, and Heart Seal.

If you have ever wondered why people hold their hands in prayer, it is because of Anjali Mudra (pronounced (AHN-jah-lee MOO-dra), a hand gestures with a specific position, meaning and benefits.

The hand gesture didn’t actually originate with prayer. It began with Hinduism and the use of different hand positions to create specific health benefits by utilising the acupressure points in the hands and the science of body language. Amazingly, this position isn’t only used by humans. If you take a look at various nature documentaries, you may even spot animals such as chimps holding their hands  in this position.

Thousands of readers have been loving THE DAILY MEDITATION’s guide to mudras. In the guide, we revealed the history and evolution of these hand gestures, and we shared 60 mudras that all enlightened people should know.

Arguably the single most crucial hand mudra is Anjali, which is one of the most popular types of yoga mudra [READ: The Best Yoga Mudras]

Anjali Mudra In Yoga (Namaste)

If you take yoga classes you’ve probably seen the Anjali mudra before, when your yoga teacher enters the room, just before they say “Namaste.” In physical yoga workouts, the namaste hands position is often combined with different asanas, such as the Sun Salutation and Tadasana.

It’s popular outside yoga too. For starters, it is the exact same gesture used by Christians, with hands held together in prayer. Certainly if you visit a church you will also have seen people making this gesture when performing prayer. And it is used in Buddhism, Hinduism and many other religions.  It is even used by non-spiritual people–who doesn’t hold their hands together when they’re asking for a miracle?

There is a reason why this hand gesture is so popular. There are huge benefits of Anjali mudra, as we will see in a moment.

anjali mudra prayer hands

Anjali Mudra Meaning

In Sanskrit, “Mudra” means “Seal” and refers to specific hand and body positions, which are used in yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism, and sacred dance. In English, the meaning of “Anjali” is “Divine Offering”. Writing for Yoga Journal, Shiva Rea [founder of Prana Vinyasa Yoga] says that the literal meaning of Anjali Mudra is “I bow to the divinity within you from the divinity within me.”

Mudras are hand positions that use reflexology pressure points in the hands, as well as chakras and nadis and others parts of the subtle body. In Hindu iconography, hand gestures also represent various deities (such as is seen in Indian Classical Dance). In China and Japan the fingers represent the different elements.  And in Christianity, the hand positions are symbolic of different virtues.

In Christianity, the Anjali mudra means something totally different to what it means in yoga. “Prayer hands” actually means repentance and dedication to God. Some of my students have asked me whether Christians should say, “Namaste”. My answer is yes, if you’re using the Hasta in yoga, but when you’re just generally doing prayer hands then no.

In yoga, it means “Namaste” [1]. It is a greeting, a salutation. It says,  “I see the divine in you”. And this is also vaguely the same meaning in Buddhism. Buddhists use the gesture to show genuine respect to one another.

In Hinduism, it is a greeting commonly used in Southeast Asia that means Namaste (often pronounced “Namaskar”). It is a popular way of saying hello and farewell, but the hand position certainly means much more than just a greeting. The connection of the palms of both hands is said to connect the right and left brain hemispheres and represents unification. It represents the unification of all things. Hence when we make this position to another person it honours both ourselves and the person we are making the gesture to.

Instructions For Anjali Mudra Gesture 

  1. Sit comfortably with good posture. Your spine should be in alignment and relaxed. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart and that you feel stable in the pelvic region. Place the tip of your tongue just behind your front teeth. You can also tuck your chin in a little to elongate your neck.
  2. Bring the hands together at the palms with the fingers reaching upwards towards the heavens. The hands should be relaxed and the pressure between both hands should be light.  The knuckles at the base of the fingers should be slightly bent. For a moment, try moving your hands to the one side and then to the other. Can you feel the change in your energy? That is the effect that the position of the hands can have.
  3. Now place your hands in front of your heart (Anahata chakra). Feel the energy (prana) that is being cultivated as you hold your hands in Anjali Mudra position.
  4. Close your eyes and meditate on your breath. for a moment. Now meditate on the energy that you feel between your hands while you are using Anjali Mudra.
  5. Visualize your visualize their ishta devata, your connection to the divine. You can use this gesture before yoga, before meditation, and during prayer.
  6. The position may also be made with the hands in front of the Crown Chakra (above the head).  This is done mostly as a warm up. The position above the head does not change the nature, meaning, or significance of the hasta. When using the sign as a greeting or a show of respect it is often complemented with a slight forward bend.

Combining with other yoga poses 

As Cain Carroll and Revital Carroll wrote in Mudras of India: A Comprehensive Guide to the Hand Gestures of Yoga and Indian Dance, Anjali Mudra gesture can be combined with numerous asanas. Try practicing Anjali mudra while performing the following asanas:

anjali mudra prayer hands (1)
anjali mudra prayer hands (1)

Anjali Mudra Benefits

There are many Anjali Mudra benefits. The joining together of the palms increases communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which produces a feeling of being centred and aids in focus and concentration. The yoke (union) of the hands also creates balance, centeredness, and harmony.  As such, it is often performed for grounding.

The benefits of Anjali mudra include:

Anjali mudra or prayer gesture is without doubt one of the most important hand gestures in the world. It has been used for centuries. And we all know how important it is in various religions. But did you know about the benefits of Anjali mudra that we looked at above?

The next time you are in yoga class performing your asanas, remember to use the Namaste mudra anytime you need a quick boost or focus and concentration. You might also like to make it at times when you feel stressed because it provides a quick sense of relaxation.

Say “Namaste” to me. Leave a comment and remember to subscribe to our newsletter below.

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Written by Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.