Quotes are taken from The Hatha Yoga Pradapika.
The word Mudra “literally means “gesture”; physical, mental and psychic attitude which expresses and channelizes cosmic energy within the mind and body.” So a mudra can be any movement or posture.
Chin Mudra – “attitude of consciousness in which the first finger is kept at the root of the thumb, the last three fingers are separated.
We do sometimes take chin mudra when practising other postures, but it is most commonly practised in seated easy pose, or lotus. To practice find a comfortable seated position, form a circle by joining your soft pad of your thumb and the nail of your index finger. Rest the back of your hand on your knee, and extend the last three fingers.
The thumb signifies the cosmic consciousness, and the index finger represents individual consciousness. When they connect in this mudra we are merging the two and receiving knowledge. The fingers have created a circle, representing the infinite wisdom of consciousness (I like to think at our fingertips, waiting for us to tune in and surrender to.)
All things in the world are said to have a mixture of three qualities, known as ‘gunas’. And the three extended fingers represent the three gunas –
The middle finger is Sattva. Purity, understanding and wisdom, light and clear.
The fourth, or ring finger, is Rajas. Raw energy, action and movement, passion.
The fifth, or little finger is Tamas. Dark, lethargy and inertia, solid, earthy.
Like all things we each contain a mixture of these energies. We seek to balance their effect and control their negative effects.
When the palms are facing up we are receiving balance and wisdom from the infinite conscious source. Sometimes we also turn the hand so the palm is facing down. In this instance we are bringing the focus to our root chakra, grounding ourselves for focus and understanding. Either way, the fingers are creating an energy circuit. Linking our body, breath, and mind.