If you've ever been to a yoga class or practiced meditation, you've probably been asked to practice a Mudra. In Sanskrit, Mudra means "seal" and is a sacred hand gesture (or body position) practiced to help cultivate a specific state of mind. There are thousands of Mudras, all representing a certain quality like compassion, vitality, concentration, or confidence. It is believed that by practicing these hand gestures, you awaken the seeds of these states within you.
Some of these mudras are practiced so often, that we begin to forget the true significance of them and what they symbolize. For example the top picture has my friend Tara practicing Anjali Mudra. Anjali means "offering" and is the drawing together of the palms at heart. We practice this Mudra in meditation, in different asanas like tadasana and tree pose, and to seal our practice with namaste. After so many classes, it is easy to go through the motions and not connect with why we are doing it. Bringing your hands at the center of your heart connects the left and right brain hemispheres and represents the coming together of the dualities of nature- (sun and moon, masculine and feminine etc) where these natures come into balance. It symbolizes composure, centering our energy, offering and opening to our awareness, and coming back to our hearts and true nature. Anjali positions us at the core of our being, and is a timeless and universal gesture of honoring and celebrating your relationship with the divine.
I personally use this Mudra as a time to get specific about my blessings. When I bring my hands to my heart, I am reflecting on all that resides in this tiny yet infinite space. It's my time to give back to the divine in the form of gratitude, because I can never say thank you enough.