Health benefits of 17 yoga mudras
‘Mudra’ means a seal or lock that closes the body apertures for a while. It is believed that prana flows in the body through various channels and energy points. Mudras help in diverting prana constantly back to the brain, otherwise it will flow into the atmosphere through the openings of the body and fingertips.
All mudras are not practised as a routine. It is important for a practitioner to understand the purpose behind the practise of mudras. Proper guidance from a guru for the specific purpose either of yoga meditation or yoga asana, is imperative. The practice should progress slowly and steadily.
Some mudras can be practised before or after other yoga asanas or Pranayama. It appears that mudras were practised by ancient yogis to hear the internal sounds and to experience the most important energy of life force, the Kundalini.
Mudras are not as simple as they appear. No theory can explain their intricacies. The mudras specified here may sound different as there is no definitive method followed by all schools, and can be practised by Hatha Yoga practitioners. It is important to teach these mudras as a part of Kundalini.
The philosophy of yoga refers to spiritual energy as Kundalini. Located in the base of the spine, ‘Kundalini’, located at the base of the spine literally means that which is coiled. There are methods in yoga, which will enable a practitioner of the Kundalini form of yoga to uncoil and arouse energy through the spine upward, moving through the Ajna Chakra, then releasing from the Sahasrara Chakra. It is important to receive guidance from a guru to practise this. The practice of Kundalini benefits in many ways, from spiritual to physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that the physical and physiological benefits cover a wide spectrum of ailments
A. Nabho Mudra
• Sit in a comfortable asana.
• Curl the tongue upward towards the palate of the mouth.
• The tongue should remain steady without movement.
• The lips are to be closed so that air does not enter into the mouth.
• Keep the eyes open and the gaze fixed to a point. Keep the thoughts steady and focus on the point of gaze all the time.
• Breathing has to be normal.
• Hold in this position for 2 minutes and release the tongue to rest. Repeat this mudra 5 times.
• Saliva gathered during this mudra has to be gently swallowed.
BENEFITS: This mudra causes the thymus gland to release beneficial hormones that release stress from the body. Also try these mudras to beat stress.
B. Bhujangini Mudra
• Relax on the ground with the chest facing the floor.
• Lift the chest up, and legs up similar to Salabasana and do a complete Adho Mukha Navasana.
• Look up towards the ceiling and fix the gaze at a point from the centre of the brow (Bhrumadhaya).
• Inhale deep and exhale with the a hissing soundlike that of a snake.
• Antara Kumbhaka (for 15 seconds) can be practised in this mudra before exhaling.
• Exhale completely and rest on the floor.
• Repeat again 3 times if you are doing it with Antara Kumbhaka or 5 times without Antara Kumbhaka.
BENEFITS: This mudra strengthens the abdomen and eliminates toxic gases from the abdominal region. It activates digestive juices and strengthens the digestive tract. It also subsides hunger.
C. Kaki mudra
• Sit in a comfortable asana.
• Inhale and exhale 5 times.
• Form an Uddiyana Bandha (p. 30) and a Jalandhara Bandha (p. 30)
• Point the mouth like you are trying to drink water from a straw.
• Keep the tongue inside the mouth stable and settled.
• Suck air into the mouth with pointed lips and swallow it, pushing the air into the area of the navel.
• Hold the breath for 10 seconds or till you are comfortable.
• The abdomen should not feel bloated.
• Lift the head up gently.
• Maintain a Samadrishti or close your eyes when you practise this mudra.
• Do not practise for more than 5 rounds.
BENEFITS: This mudra benefits the facial muscles, affects the thyroid and parathyroid glands and keeps the skin healthy and glowing.
D. Mula Bandha Mudra
• Place the left heel in the perineum.
• The heels should feel the contraction.
• Inhale and do Antara Kumbhaka before proceeding to do a Uddiyana Bandha.
• Fix the gaze at the Nasagrai (Nose centre).
• Do not repeat more than 5 times.
BENEFITS: Mula Bandha takes place in the centre of the body.
It builds up core strength and establishes focus and concentration for higher spiritual practices.
E. Shanmukhi Mudra
• Sit in a comfortable asana.
• Spread your fingers above your eyes. Then close all your senses by the following steps:
– Using your thumbs, close both the ears.
– Using your index finger, close your eyes.
– With the middle finger, block the nostrils.
– Place the ring finger above the upper lip.
– Place the little finger below the lower lip.
• Shape your lips into a gentle circle.
• Breathe in like you are sucking air. Hold the breath for a Antara Kumbhaka.
• Hold the Antara Kumbhaka for as long as possible and release through the nostrils at a slow, steady and comfortable pace.
• Relax for a while and repeat 5 more times.
• Do not exceed more than 10 times a day.
BENEFITS: This mudra calms the mind and relaxes disturbing thoughts. It also creates a balance in the thyroid that controls hormonal fluctuations.
F. Tadaka Mudra
• Lie down on the floor with the chest upward in Supta Tadasana.
• Inhale as you raise your hands up towards the ceiling and exhale as you drop hands towards the ground behind the head.
• Observe the expansion of the chest as you breathe in and observe your navel dropping towards the ground as you breathe out.
• Set a breathing rhythm and get comfortable with it.
• The above points would be preparations for Tadaka Mudra.
• Keep the body in a completely stretched position.
• Breathe out completely and drop the navel towards the spine. Hold in that position for as long as you are comfortable.
• The hollow of your abdominal cavity will look like a pond.
BENEFITS: This mudra benefits the spine and hydrates it. It also benefits the circulatory system. Respiratory organs are strengthened to hold in the Kumbhaka which is important during spiritual practices.
G. Ma tangi Mudra
• Take a dip in the water until the head is completely inside
• Inhale through the nostril along with the water and fill the mouth with this water. Do not allow the water to enter into your lungs.
• After the mouth is full, stick the head out of the water and expel water from the mouth. (It should look like the water coming out of the tap.)
BENEFITS: This mudra removes restlessness from the mind and calms down excitement.
H. Kechari Mudra
• The tongue is pulled everyday till the tongue is able to touch the tip of the nose.
• Every week, the nerve below the tongue has to be cut further and pulled till it can be stretched into the nose.
• The tongue will then be swallowed and moved towards the throat till it reaches a point which is commonly known as second tongue.
• When the tongue touches this point, a juice is produced in the gland which yogis believe can conquer hunger and thirst.
BENEFITS: This mudra provides the body with youthful energy.
J. Maha Bandha Mudra
• Press the anus carefully with the left heel.
• Place the right foot on the left thigh.
• Contract the anal muscles and pull the perineum upward.
• Draw air to do the Jalandhara Bandha.
• Then breathe out slowly.
BENEFITS: This mudra benefits the lower abdominal organs and increases energy in all the chakras. Here’s how your body’s chakras affect you.
K. Maha vedha mudra
• Sit in Padmasana and do Jalandhara Bandha.
• Place the palms on the ground.
• With the support of the hands, palms pressed to the ground, lift the hip off the floor.
• The buttocks are to be hit to the ground gently several times by bouncing the hip up and down.
BENEFITS: This mudra aids in spiritual practices. The lifting and dropping in this mudra builds up cushioning in the sacral area which helps sit for long hours while practising meditation.
L. Yoga Mudra
• Sit in Padmasana.
• Place the palms on the heels and bend forward.
• Exhale completely by the time you lean and touch the forehead to the ground.
• Deepen the pull of the navel towards the spine and stay there for as long as comfortable. Breathe normally.
BENEFITS: This mudra benefits the lower organs of the body by increasing circulation. It also helps expel toxic prana from the abdominal cavity, making the body light and comfortable.
M. Viparita karani Mudra
• Lie on the ground with the chest facing up.
• Raise the legs to do the Sarvangasana with the palm supporting the hips, and elbows pressing to the ground.
• Keep your raised leg at an angle of 45°.
• Stay steady in this position.
• Gently pull in your neck and fix it into the collarbone to form a Jalandhara Bandha.
• Pull in the anal muscle and do a partial Mula Bandha
(p. 29) and do not stress the muscle if it is tired.
• The position can be held for 2 to 3 minutes or more.
BENEFITS: This position increases blood supply to all areas of the body.
N. Vajroli Mudra
• Sit in the Padmasana with the palms placed on the thighs.
• Inhale through the nose and hold your breath.
• Pull up the sexual organs by contracting the lower abdominal muscles like you would to stop the flow of urine.
• Continue to hold the breath as you relax and contract these muscles ten times.
• On the tenth relaxation of the muscles, exhale completely.
BENEFITS: This mudra strongly influences the nadis that supply the sex organs with spiritual energy. This is practised before Kundalini meditation.
O. Ashwini Mudra
• Sit in a comfortable asana.
• Breathe normally.
• Gently contract the sphincter muscles and relax them.
• The action should be confined to the anus only.
• Repeat for 5 times and gradually increases the speed of the contraction.
• The contraction should be rhythmic.
BENEFITS: This mudra benefits the muscles of the rectum, colon and perineum. It builds up efficient functioning of the abdominal organs and keeps the body light and clean.
P. Shakti Chalana Mudra
This mudra is practised to reach the spiritual high of the Kundalini practice of yoga.
• Sit in the Padmasana on a wooden plank. Make sure the place of practice is quiet and secluded.
• Inhale air forcibly and hold a tight Mula Bandha.
• Close the right nostril with the right fingers (Shanka
• Now swallow the air like you are swallowing food and push it towards the naval.
• Do this swallowing 4 to 5 times.
• Exhale gently and relax in the Shavasana.
BENEFITS: This mudra is practised to reach the spiritual high of the Kundalini Yoga practice. It improves the power of concentration and conquers lust, thus freeing the mind for higher spiritual practices.
Q. Manduka Mudra
This mudra is usually conducted to control anger.
• Sit in a comfortable asana.
• Roll the tongue upward to touch the soft palate of the mouth called the Chandra Mandala.
• Move the tongue left to right in small movements until comfortable.
• A juice is produced when you do this. Swallow the juice.
The juice is the nectar which helps control hunger.
• The mudra should be repeated of 4 or 5 times and not more.
BENEFITS: This mudra decreases the fluctuations of the mind and balances the energies of the Ida and Pingala.
R. Shambhavi Mudra
This mudra should be done only in sunlight, and can be done 2 to 3 times daily.
• Draw a circle of about 5-inches radius on a black paper.
• Mark a white spot in the centre of the circle.
• Sit in a comfortable position seven feet away from the circle.
• Stare into the white spot in a straight line without blinking.
• If you experience strain in the eyes, relax your eyes by blinking 10-15 times till you no longer feel the strain.
• Keep staring at the white point until tears form in the eyes.
• The eyes should be cleaned with a fresh handkerchief by dabbing them dry and not by rubbing.
BENEFITS: This mudra, while practised as a pre-meditation routine, improves the vision to see the self (self-assessment), which is an important step before meditation.