Adi (first,primal) + mudra (gesture)
Ayurvedic Element – All Elements
Adi mudra is a hasta or hand gesture, which aids the practitioner to calm their thoughts and to prepare them for pranayama practice.
Adi translates to first or primal in Sanskrit. This name relates to the first hand position a baby can make when they are born.
The first shape an infant ever makes is a clenched fist – and that’s why this mudra is also sometimes called Baby’s Gesture.
The mudra is believed to boost the function of the lungs and increase the flow of oxygen. For this reason, it is believed to be particularly useful when you are practicing breathing exercises, as it may help you perform them more effectively.
On a deeper level, connecting the thumb with all other fingers symbolizes the balancing of all energies within us. This act allows prana to freely flow in our bodies and helps us to connect more deeply to our inner selves.
Ayurvedic Element – All Elements
Each finger represents one of the five elements in our bodies, and since this mudra connects them all, it is also believed to also connect all elements.
It is believed, it may boost our effort to seek wisdom that’s beyond the perception of the five senses.
It allows us to gain a higher spiritual knowledge and understanding of the aspects of life which are beyond the comprehension of the mind.
Another symbolism comes from the fact that all other fingers are wrapped around the thumb. The thumb represents the fire element, and by connecting all elements with the fire, we may feel enhanced inner strength, willpower, confidence, and courage.
Additionally, if we place the fingertip of the thumb to the base of the ring finger, which represents the earth, we are also increasing this element, which may make us feel more grounded.
Chakras – Crown
Traditionally, it is believed the Adi Mudra stimulates the brain – which is energetically connected to the Crown or Sahasrara chakra.
This chakra is the highest chakra in our system, and the one responsible for enlightenment or higher spiritual understanding. Stimulating the chakra will increase our sense of peace and make us feel connected with the divine.
Since the Adi Mudra places the highest emphasis on our breath, and the thumb is pressed by all other fingers, we can connect it to the lung meridian (which ends at the tip of the thumb).
The lung meridian is responsible for our respiratory system, and keeping it balanced will help us combat issues related to the lungs and breathing.
It is also connected to feelings of grief and regret. Stimulating this line may therefore help us release any of the sorrows we still hold on to and bring us to a more positive and lighter state of mind.
Adi Mudra Benefits
- It is believed combining the Adi Mudra with yoga poses may stimulate internal organs and boost digestion.
- Boosts the function of the respiratory system and enhances the flow of oxygen to the throat and head.
- Calms the nervous system.
- Stimulates the brain and activates the Crown chakra.
Avoid pressing the fingers too much – rather do so softly to avoid blocking the nerve and meridian endings.
How-To Perform Adi Mudra
1. Begin in a seated position you prefer. Alternatively, you can also hold the mudra while standing in Mountain Pose.
2. If sitting, place your palms on your thighs so that they’re pressing down.
3. First, bend the thumb and press it towards the base of the ring finger, with both hands.
4. Then press all other fingers together, and bend them to wrap around the thumb, making a fist shape with both hands.
5. Hold this position for the duration of your pranayama or meditation practice, then release.
It is believed that the direction of your palms will slightly change the effect of the mudra. When the palms are faced down, it will be more calming, while it will energize you with the palms facing up.
When to use Adi mudra
- Adi mudra calms the nervous system, so it may be helpful to prepare you for meditation, or to ground after your yoga practice.
- You can practice the mudra with any meditative pose you prefer, including Lotus Pose, Easy Pose, and Hero Pose.
- To help you further reduce thinking and improve the positive energy within you, you can pair the mudra with the chanting of the Om, Shakti, or Vishnu mantras.
- One of the main benefits of Adi mudra is that it increases lung capacity, so it’s often paired with Pranayama.
- You can begin by simply slowing down your breath and making it deeper, inhaling as much as you can, and following that with a complete exhalation.
- You can also perform the 2-1 breathing rhythm, exhaling for twice as long as you’re inhaling.
- An advanced breathing technique that goes along with Adi mudra is the 4-3-6-3 pattern. This means you will inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 3 seconds, exhale for a count of 6 then hold for 3 before your next inhale. It is believed this technique improves lung function.
Where & When
- It is recommended to practice Adi mudra for 45 minutes per day, which can be done in three sets or all at once.
- It is also best to practice the mudra in the morning to prep you for the day ahead or just before bed to calm the nervous system and make it easier to fall asleep.
For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Mudra Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga mudra to deepen your yoga knowledge.
Each mudra page features high-quality photos and illustrations, insights into the meridian, chakra, and ayurvedic element systems, as well as tips on how, why, and when to practice each mudra.