Hand Yoga with Classical Indian Dance – Bharatnatyam

Bharatnatyam is an ancient form of dance originating from South India. It is a very beautiful and spiritual art that is said to be one of the oldest in India. The Bharatnatyam routine includes many different hand yoga poses or mudras to symbolize other things such as birds, lizards and scissors etc. Bharatnatyam is said to be a form of “fire dancing” where the energy is manifested from the human body. There are other classical Indian dances that represent all the different elements which are also quite spectacular to watch. This style of dance cannot be performed properly by men. There is much spirituality represented by this dance and you can think of it like a cosmic dance of creation.

It is still active in India today and if you travel there you can experience it for yourself – a magical experience. If you plan on traveling to India to learn more about Bharatnatyam dance or to study yoga, we recommend you read this packing list for India travel.


Below is a photo gallery of some of the various hand yoga poses performed by the expert dancer.


This hand yoga pose is called Pataka hasta (meaning flag)

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Here is the Bhramara (Brahmara) hasta (hand yoga gesture, also called mudra) (meaning “Bee”). This pose is also used in other classical Indian dances such as Odissi and Kuchipudi.

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This one is know as Alapadma hasta (meaning “Lotus”)

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This mudra is called Garuda hasta (meaning “Eagle”) and is also performed in the other classical Indian dances Odissi and Kuchipudi

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Here is the Mrigasirsha hasta hand yoga pose meaning “Deer head”. Again this pose is used in the Odissi and Kuchipudi dances.

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Kartarimukha hasta of indian dance Bharata Natyam (hand yoga)
This hand gesture is known as Kartarimukha hasta (meaning scissors) Odissi and Kuchipudi dances include this pose in their routine.

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Padmakosha hasta of indian dance Bharata Natyam (hand yoga)
Padmakosha hasta hand mudra meaning “Lotus bud” performed in Bharatnatyam dance as well as Odissi and Kuchipudi.

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Chandrakala hasta of indian dance Bharata Natyam (hand yoga)
This is the Chandrakala hasta mudra meaning “Digit of the Moon” of indian classical dance Bharata Natyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi.

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Schukatunda hasta of indian dance Bharata Natyam (hand yoga)
Schukatunda hasta hand yoga gesture meaning “Parrot’s head” which is used in the dances Odissi and Kuchipudi as well.

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Avahittha hasta of indian dance Bharata Natyam (hand yoga)
Finally this pose is showing Avahittha hasta (meaning “dissimulation”)


Over the ages there was a decline in popularity of Bharatnatyam but thankfully we are now seeing a rebirth. Now, it is not uncommon to see this wonderful form of ancient dance on TV shows and even in popular Bollywood movies. You can see a nice video of this beautiful type of hand yoga on our mudra page.