In the West, we translate this gesture as a posture of prayer. Because we have grown up with this gesture as part of our culture, each of us probably has our own personal connection to this mudra. The beauty of this gesture, which positions us right at the core of our being, is timeless and universal.
In Sanskrit, the word mudra means "seal" or "sign" and refers not only to sacred hand gestures but also whole body positions that elicit a certain inner state or symbolize a particular meaning. Anjali itself means "offering," and in India, this mudra is often accompanied by the word Namaste. As the consummate Indian greeting, like a sacred hello, Namaste is often translated as "I bow to the divinity within you from the divinity within me." This salutation is at the essence of the yogic practice of seeing the Divine within all of creation. Anjali mudra is used as a posture of composure, of returning to one's heart, whether you are greeting someone or saying goodbye, initiating or completing an action. As you bring your hands together at your center, you are literally connecting the right and left hemispheres of your brain. This is the yogic process of unification, the yoking of our active and receptive natures. In the yogic view of the body, the energetic or spiritual heart is visualized as a lotus at the center of the chest. Anjali mudra nourishes the lotus of the heart with awareness, gently encouraging it to open as water and light do a flower.