By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Visnhu mudra gesture is also called as ‘Universal Balance Gesture’. Normally it is used during pranayama and meditation practices. It is specifically used while practicing Nadi Shodhana Pranayama i.e. alternate nostril breathing. It is a hasta mudra i.e. hand gesture and is named in honor of Lord Vishnu.
Vishnu = Hindu deity, one of the trinity, the operator and protector of the creation, known to keep the universe in balance
Mudra = gesture / seal / posture / mark
1. Getting into Vishnu Mudra –
- Sit in a comfortable position. Sit on a mat and avoid sitting directly on the ground / floor. You can prefer sitting in Sukhasana i.e. easy pose, Padmasana i.e. lotus pose or Vajrasana i.e. diamond pose.
- Breathe easily and be aware of the breathing by focusing your consciousness on it.
- Keep your spine straight.
- It is beneficial to perform this gesture with your eyes closed. You can also prefer keeping your eyes open.
- Place your hands on the thighs or knees with palms facing upwards.
- This mudra shall be performed only with the right hand unlike other mudras. The left hand shall not be used.
- Curl the forefinger and middle finger towards the palm.
- The thumb, ring finger and little finger should be extended.
Now you can proceed to do the Nadi shodhana pranayama.
Read – Types Of Pranayama – Effect on Health – Through An Ayurveda View-Point
2. Performing Nadi Shodhana Pranayama –
- Keeping your right hand in Vishnu Mudra, begin by taking few rounds of deep breaths in and out through both the nostrils together. Ensure that your nasal passages are clear.
- Now slowly raise your right hand in Vishnu Mudra up to your face.
- Close your right nostril with the thumb, by applying gentle pressure. This will allow you to breathe only through your left nostril. Breathe out for a count of four. Then breathe in for a count of four.
- Next close your left nostril with your ring and little finger. This allows you to breathe only through your right nostril. Exhale for a count of four. Then breathe in for a count of four. (Closing one nostril and exhaling through the other nostril should be done simultaneously)
- Repeat the cycle again.
- First part of the cycle – Close the right nostril with your thumb, inhale through the left nostril. Release the thumb. Close the left nostril with ring finger and little fingers. Exhale through the right nostril.
- Second part of the cycle – Reverse the above said process i.e. inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left.
Read – How To Do Pranayama – A Simple Pranayama Technique
Variant 2 –
- The hand is taken to the face, opposite to it.
- The palm is facing the face.
- Spread your fingers.
- The thumb and little finger fanned out on either side forming a wide V.
- Close your left nostril with your ring finger and your right nostril with your index finger.
- Place your middle finger in between the eyebrows. This point corresponding to the root of the nose is called bhru madhya bindu.
- Now follow the alternative nostril breathing i.e. anuloma and viloma as explained above.
- By relaxing the index, breathe in through the right nostril for a count of six. Now close the right nostril with the index and hold the breath for a count of three. Keeping the right nostril closed, release the ring finger and breathe out through the left nostril, for a count of six. Hold the breath out for a count of three closing both the nostrils.
- Now repeat the entire procedure starting from the left nostril and ending with exhaling through the right nostril. This finishes one round.
- Continue this for 9 rounds, alternating with each nostril to attain maximum benefits.
- Slowly drop down your hands to the starting positions i.e. on to the thighs or knee.
- Extend the curled fingers.
- Breathe in easily and relax.
Time and Duration
- It is beneficial to practice Vishnu Mudra with Nadi Shodhana Pranayama in the early hours of the day, though it can be done at any time of the day.
- It is preferable to practice this gesture on empty stomach.
- This gesture is extremely rewarding even if it is practiced for only 5 minutes a day. You can gradually increase the duration of practice and also the number of rounds of practice as you gain control over the practice. The mudra can be practiced for a maximum duration of 15-20 minutes at a stretch.
- The breath should be smooth and full. You should feel relaxed while practicing it. If your breath becomes labored or if you feel uncomfortable, you need to take a break and breathe deeply through both nostrils.
Read – Meditation By Watching Mind: Stages, Method, Benefits
The benefits in this instance are combined. The benefits of both Vishnu Mudra and Nadi Shodhana Pranayama are gained together.
- Brings balance, strength and peace
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Brings balance to the right and left hemispheres of the body
- Encourages mental clarity and focus
- Stills the mind for meditation, improves concentration and reduces stress
- Calms nervous system
- Balances the hormonal functions
- Supports the respiratory system, infuses the body with oxygen
- Causes detoxification of the body
Relation with elements and chakras
The thumb represents fire element. It is related to Manipura Chakra or Navel chakra / solar plexus. The ring finger represents earth element and is linked to the Muladhara i.e. root chakra. The little finger represents water element and is linked to the Swadishtana i.e. sacral chakra. When you extend these digits you are encouraging the flow of energy to the corresponding elements within you and balance them. The other fingers which are curled down into the palm allow space for the other elements to expand and flourish. This mudra activates the energies of these chakras too. When balanced, the Solar plexus enhances your personal power and inner fire, corrects metabolism. The root chakra enables grounding and stability. The sacral chakra promotes enjoyment of life and helps manage relationships.
Read – Muladhara Chakra – The Root Chakra, Features, How To Activate?
Impact on the doshas
Seeing the benefits and actions of the Vishnu Mudra and Nadi shodhana pranayama it can be inferred that it balances apana vayu, samana vayu and pachaka pitta. Its role in calming the nerves and mind and in relieving stress and anxiety, its role in calming the prana vata can be appreciated. By balancing the chest doshas i.e. udana vata, vyana vata and avalambaka kapha and maintaining their axis with prana vata, the mudra enables easy breathing and optimum oxygenation of the body.
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