Hands in Prayer Pose: Why Does Yoga Teach It?

Most yoga classes begin with a short centering as a way to bring your attention to the present moment. In this pause before you begin to move your body you often bring hands palm-to-palm, in front of your heart. Why do we do it? While this list is not comprehensive, it does give you a great start to understanding what hands in prayer pose means in yoga class.


Anjali Mudra

A Way to Bring Harmony

In yoga, you’re always striving for balance. Sometimes it’s balance between strength and flexibility or between right and left. More often, what you’re really seeking is harmony.

Balance is never 50/50. Sometimes to be in harmony you need 95% intensity and only 5% calm —for instance yelling to your child not to run into the street.

Placing palms together is a reminder to find the middle ground of harmony, no matter what the ratio is in the moment.

An Offering of Gratitude

The gesture of hands in prayer pose is called Anjali Mudra in sanskrit. Mudra implies hand position, or gesture. Anjali means Grace.

Grace, like the word gracias, or thank you, in Spanish, holds the implication of a gift. Our lives are a gift of Grace and you being here is no accident. Bringing your hands into Anjali Mudra is an acknowledgement of this gift and an offering of your gratitude.

A Recognition of Spirit

The root of the word yoga means —to unite, join or yoke together. Union with your wise inner self is one of the highest purposes of the practice of yoga. Some names for the inner self are: presence, spirit, source, God or wholeness. When you connect with spirit, you unite with your inner wellspring of peace and vitality.

In much of the East, hands in prayer is a common gesture of greeting, one that acknowledges God in the other. Whether directed inwards or towards the person on the next yoga mat, hands in prayer pose is an outer symbol of spirit within.