Yoga is an ancient science that brings harmony between the body and mind. The practice of yoga targets the mental, physical, and spiritual self of a person via techniques like yogic postures, mudras, meditation, and controlled breathing. Yoga includes basic practices for beginners as well as advanced techniques for seasoned practitioners. Here we will talk about the Maha mudra, an advanced yogic practice.
What is Maha mudra?
Maha mudra is a type of hatha yoga and the first one to be mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipikia and Gheranda Samhita. The name derives from two words – ‘Maha’ means ‘great’ and ‘mudra’ means ‘pose’ or ‘gesture’ and thus, is also known as the Great Gesture. The maha mudra pose is so called because it has numerous benefits for the human mind and body.
The mahamudra is one of the oldest forms of Hatha yoga and is practiced to boost mental awareness and raise control over sexual potential. The inclusion of all three bandhas – Mula bandha, Uddiyana bandha, and Jalandhara bandha in the mahamudra pose makes it one of the highest forms of yogic practice.
Regular practice of Maha mudra can awaken the Kundalini – the center of spiritual energy and thus, help attain siddhi or spiritual powers. Moreover, during the practice of mahamudra pose, the spine moves in five different directions, namely backbend, forward bend, lateral bend, twist, and axial extension which creates an aura of depth, height, and spaciousness.
How to do Maha Mudra asana?
To obtain the benefit of the asana, it is important to do it right. This is exactly how you should do it:
- Sit on the floor and assume the Staff Pose. Put your palms by the side of your hips and straighten your spine. You should feel comfortable in this position.
- Inhale deeply and gradually bring the left foot close to the left thigh. Exhale and bring down the knee. Use the left heel to press against the perineum.
- Keeping the other leg stretched, gradually exhale and bend forward hold the big toe of the stretched leg performing the Uddiyana bandha and Jalandhara bandha.
- Slightly raise your head upwards concentrating your gaze between the eyebrows.
- Take a deep and slow breath and tilt your head.
- Now hold your breath to perform the Mula bandha.
- Contract the muscles of the throat to prevent air from passing in or out.
- Maintain this position as long as your feel comfortable.
- Release your foot as you exhale.
- Gradually, let go of the bandhas, take a deep breath, and return to your previous position.
- Practice the same with your other leg.
7 Benefits of Maha Mudra asana
The Maha mudra isn’t just a yogic practice but has many physical and spiritual benefits. Practicing the maha mudra pose regularly will do the following:
- Cure digestive problems
The pose puts pressure on the abdominal organs. On the release of pressure, these organs get stimulated. This acts as a trigger for the proper release of intestinal juices. Moreover, the organs function better when they are stimulated. Together, the gesture helps improve the digestive thus curing problems like indigestion, colic, constipation, poor appetite, etc.
- Strengthens musculoskeletal system
Mahamudra pose targets the muscles of the legs, thighs, pelvis, upper back, and shoulder. It also stretches the spine. In short, the Great gesture can improve spine health and cure muscle pain.
- Cures Kapha disorders
The energy formed from water and earth is known as Kapha. The imbalance of Kapha can lead to health issues like lethargy, laziness, diabetes, nausea, depression, asthma, etc. According to the Gheranda Samhita, mahamudra can help restore the balance of Kapha, thus eliminating many health ailments.
- Improve mental state
Practicing the maha mudra pose helps control the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Minimizing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) helps control symptoms like high blood pressure, increased heart rate and breathing rate, anxiety, etc. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is activated which induces a feeling of calm and relaxation. In short, this helps combat stress and depression and improve the mental health of a person.
- Boost reproductive health
As the heel presses against the perineum, the reproductive organs are compressed. On release, these organs are stimulated. This improves the functioning of the vital organs of the reproductive system which boosts reproductive health. Moreover, the Maha mudra is effective in reducing menstrual pain and ailments of the uterus and ovary.
- Induce pranic energy
As mentioned, maha mudra pose results in stretching of the spine. When practiced regularly, this gesture straightens the spine. As a result, pranic energy travels from the Mooladhara chakra to the Vishuddhi chakra. Pranic energy is the life force that drives any life form. When the energy moves smoothly between the body chakras, the body is energized.
- Improves respiratory system
The Maha mudra works great on the respiratory system as well as the heart. When you hold your breath, the lungs receive no fresh air. This puts some strain on the lungs. But as soon as you inhale, the lungs take in air with full force. This restrained breathing allows more air to flow into the lungs. The heart also experiences a blood rush that opens up all clogged arteries.
Like with any other yoga mudra, there are few restrictions to the practice of Maha mudra asana.
- It is best for pregnant and menstruating women to avoid the mudra.
- People with conditions like cardiovascular diseases, chronic abdominal and back inflammation, eye problems, etc. should avoid the mudra.
- As the body chakras generate heat, it is best not to practice the gesture when the temperatures are high.
- Practitioners must master Mula bandha, Uddiyana bandha, and Jalandhara bandha before starting with the mahamudra pose.
- Practitioners must also complete both sides of the mudra before ending the process.
- It is best to take the help of an expert yoga trainer to practice the Maha mudra.
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Now that you know what the Mahamudra is, how to practice it, and its benefits, you can surely add it to your yoga routine. Ask your trainer to help you master the art and see the change in your life.