Jnana Mudra (psychic gesture of knowledge)
Assume a comfortable meditation posture.
Fold the index fingers of both hands so that the touch the inside root of their respective thumbs.
Spread the other other three fingers of each hand so that they are relaxed and slightly apart.
Place the hands on the knees with the palm facing downwards and the three unbent fingers and thumb of each hand pointing towards the floor in front of the knees.
Relax the hands and arms.
Some people prefer to practise jnana mudra with the tips of the thumb and index finger touching. This is also correct.
Chin Mudra (psychic gesture of consciousness)
Chin mudra is performed in the same way as jnana mudra except that the palms of both hands face upwards, with the backs of the hands resting on the knees. Relax the hands and arms.
One of these two mudras should be adopted whenever practising meditation, unless otherwise specified.
Jnana mudra and chin mudra are simple but important psycho-neural finger locks which make meditation asanas such as padmasana, siddhasana, siddha yoni asanas, sukhasana, vajrasana and others, complete and more powerful by redirecting the nervous impulses from the hands upwards to the body. The palms and fingers of the hands have many nerve root endings with constantly emit energy. When the finger touches the thumb, a circuit is produced which allows the energy that would normally dissipate into the environment to travel back into the body and up to the brain.
When the fingers and hands are placed on the knees, the knees are sensitised, creating another pranic circuit that maintains and redirects prana within the body. In adition, placing the hands on the knees stimulates a nadi which runs from the knees, up the inside of the thighs and into the perineum. This nadi is known as gupta or the hidden nadi. Sensitising this channel helps stimulate the energies at mooladhara chakra.
When the palms face upward in chin mudra, the chest area is opened up. The practitioner may experience this as a sense of lightness and receptivity which is absent in the practice of jnana mudra.
Jnana and chin mudras are often performed with the tip of the thumb and index finger touching and forming a circle. Beginners may find this variation less secure for prolonged periods of meditation as the thumb and index finger tend to separate more easily when body awareness is lost. Otherwise, this variation is as effective as the basic position.
The effect of chin or jnana mudras is very suble and it requires great sensitivity on the part of the practitioner to perceive the change in consciousness established. With the practice, however, the mind becomes conditioned to the mudra and when it is adopted the signal to enter a meditative state is transmitted.
The word jnana means 'wisdom' or 'knowledge', thus jnana mudra is the gesture of intuitive knolwedge. Chin, on the other hand, is derived from the word 'chit' or 'chitta' which means 'consciousness'. Chin mudra, therefore, is the psychic gesture of consciousness.
Symbolically, the small, ring and middle fingers represent the three gunas or qualities of nature: tamas, inertia; rajas, activity and creativity; and sattwa, luminosity and harmony. In order for consciousness to pass from ignorance to knowledge, these three states must be transcended. The index finger represent individual consciousness, the jivatma, while the thumb symbolises supreme consciousness. In jnana and chin mudras the individual (index finger) is bowing down to the supreme consciousness (the thumb), acknowledging its unsurpassed power. The index finger, however, is touching the thumb, symbolising the ultimate unity of the two experiences and the culmination of yoga.
1) Excerpts from the book on "Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha" by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
2) Excerpts from the book on "Meditations from the Tantras" by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.