The name Shunya mudra comes from the Sanskrit shunya, meaning “emptiness,” “openness”, or “spaciousness.” Shunya may also refer to the sky or heaven and may be translated as "heaven mudra".
There is a story attached to why this mudra is known as heaven mudra. The practitioner of this mudra was able to hear ‘Anahata’ sounds. In Sanskrit anahata means "sound produced without touching two parts" and at the same time it means pure or pristine. The name of this chakra signifies the state of freshness that appears when we are able to become detached and to look at the different and apparently contradictory experiences of life with a state of openness (expansion).
Anahata sounds are not the usual sounds. They can only be heard by the yogis who have practiced meditation for a long time. However, at a layperson’s level, one can enjoy a feeling of tranquility and bliss through practice of this mudra.
Shunya mudra is particularly beneficial when meditating. It can be practiced while seated, standing or even walking, as long as the body is relaxed and the posture is symmetrical. It is recommended that Shunya mudra be practiced up to three times daily for five to 15 minutes each time, and should be discontinued when no longer needed for its health benefits.
Practising shunya mudra is thought to provide relief from a range of hearing and balance issues, among them including:
Ear disorders such as acute pain, hearing loss, and tinnitus.
For controlling ear wax and aural discharge.
Numbness anywhere in the body
In cases of acute earache, shunya mudra works like magic and relieves earache very quickly - in about two-three minutes. Children often complain of earaches, sometimes right in the dead of night when medicines may not be available. It is therefore advisable to train children in the practice of this mudra for such ailments.
This mudra has also been found effective in removal of gum diseases like pyorrhea (that is bleeding from gums), as it strengthens gums.
In terms of Ayurvedic medicine, this mudra is beneficial to those with a dominant vata dosa (life energy governing the body’s ether-air balance), associated with the nervous system and waste elimination. From acupressure perspective, the point for the heart atrium (point through which blood enters the heart) is near to the base of the thumb. A gentle touch of the middle finger during the practice of this mudra creates acupressure of this point. It, therefore, prevents heart disease and helps to form the hormonal balance, which also helps cure hypothyroidism.
To practice this mudra, the tip of the middle finger is placed at the base of the thumb, and the thumb presses gently on the middle finger just below the knuckle. The remaining three fingers stretch comfortably to the sky.
Precaution: Do not press the thumb hard, to avoid hurting yourself. If one is feeling weak, one should not perform this mudra. Discontinue this mudra after getting cured from a specific ailment as its excessive practice can decrease the space element in the body.