Maha Mudra – Meaning, Procedure, Benefits, Precautions

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

Maha Mudra is called as great gesture. It is the first gesture mentioned in both Gheranda Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika treatises. It is a gesture beneficial to raise the human consciousness to higher levels and also for improving health. This is highly recommended for the yogis.

Meaning

Maha = great
Mudra = gesture / seal / mark / pose

It is also called as Maha Mudras since it bestows numerous benefits. It is considered as a primitive form of yoga that focuses on controlled breathing and meditation. In the ancient yogic practices, it is widely held to be among the greatest postures since it includes performance of all three bandhas. With regular practice you can achieve greater control over your physical and mental constitution. 
Read – Dosha Body Constitution as per Ashtanga Hridaya

It is a hatha yoga gesture. Its purpose is to improve the control over sexual potential which is associated with apana. This is essential in the process of awakening the dormant spiritual energy i.e. kundalini and for attaining of spiritual powers i.e. siddhi.
Read – Hatha Yoga and Shat Karmas: Benefits, Precautions

It is said to be a quintessential yoga gesture. It combines the elements of all 5 directional movements of the spine. They are – forward bend, back bend, twist, lateral bend and axial extension. This pose can create an incredible sense of height, depth and spaciousness.

Procedure

  • Sit comfortably on the floor with the legs stretched out i.e. take dandasana or staff pose
  • Feel comfortable as you keep the spine straight. Place both the hands on the floor by your side.
  • Now take one deep breath and gradually fold (pull up) the left foot close to your left thigh. Bring down your knee as you breathe out.  Press the perineum with the left heel.
  • Keep the right leg stretched out in front. It shall be stretched throughout the practice.
  • Now bend forward. Hold the big toe of the stretched right leg with the hands. Exhale while bending forwards.
  • Raise your head slightly upwards. Let the gaze be on the center of the eyebrow. Inhale slowly and deeply while tilting your head.
  • Perform Mula Bandha by holding the breath inside.
  • Contract your throat. This doesn’t allow the air to escape from the lungs.
  • Maintain this position while holding the breath inside. This is called Antar Kumbhaka. Do it as far as long as you are comfortable.
  • This is one round of practice. You can practice from 3-12 rounds.
    Read – Chakra – Kundalini: Introduction, Meaning, Types, Location, Ayurveda View

Release –

  • Exhale slowly.
  • Bring the head to normal position.
  • Stretch out both legs.
  • Relax the body and breathe normally.

Note – Maintain your attention on the eye-brow center. According to other opinion you can rotate your attention between Muladhara, Vishuddhi and Ajna Chakra.

Variation in the gesture –

  • Sit on the floor in staff pose. Keep your spine straight. Place both hands on the floor on either side.
  • Slowly pull your left foot close to your left thigh. Bring down your knee as you expire. Keep your toe close to your thigh’s inner section as you complete one breathing cycle.
  • Press your palms against the floor. Bring your shoulders back and down. With this your chest opens up and the crown of the head gets a lift which points straight upwards.
  • Breathe in deeply. Pull the arms up. Bring your arms above your heads, parallel to each other. Your fingers should align in one straight line. Now breathe out and engage into mula bandha at this time.
  • Roll on to the front of the sitting bones as you exhale. Keep your back and spinal cord straight.
  • Now bring down the arms. Latch them on the plane of the foot as you perform the Jalandhara Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha in the movement.
  • The entire gesture will create a new space within your mind and body.
  • Bend forward and hold / hook the big toe of the extended right leg with your thumbs and forefingers.
  • Dip your chin backwards so as to touch the breast bone.
  • Inhale and hold your breath.
  • Exhale, lift your head, and release the hands from your foot.
  • As you get back to the previous state of the gesture, you will feel like breathing. Allow your foot and bandhas gently go off as you breathe in deeply.
  • Straighten your arms and raise them above your head.  
  • Both your arms must come down to the sides as you finish breathing out.
  • Without moving the body in any way, close your eyes and take a deep inhalation as you spread out your left leg
  • Repeat the entire steps with right side of the body.

Related Video – Maha Mudra – method of performing

Mode of action

In the practice of great gesture, pressure is exerted on the perineum. Perineum is considered to be closely involved with control of the vital and sexual potential. At the same time, the throat is compressed i.e. Jalandara Bandha is performed activating the Vishuddha / throat chakra. This is the center of the akashic energy of void.

By doing so, the gesture also stimulates the energies of the root chakra. Kundalini awakens and rises through the central channel i.e. sushumna nadi. The lower energies of the spine are transformed into the spiritual energies having been initiated by the akashic energy of void. This gesture is considered to be a gesture of alchemical transformation and elevation of sexual potential. At the same time it is the ideal method of awakening of the supreme energy of the body i.e. Kundalini Shakti.
Read – Panchamahabhuta: Application, Areas of Utility in Ayurveda treatment

Time and duration

Maha Mudra should be done in the early hours of the morning and on the empty stomach to tap optimum benefits. It should be started before meditation.

Benefits

  • Has enormous physical and spiritual benefits
  • Forms startup practice for meditation
  • Improves digestion, cures stomach disorders
  • Cures consumption, leprosy, colic and diseases caused due to indigestion
  • Neutralizes the effect of toxins in the body
  • Alleviates kapha disorders
  • Cures constipation, enlargement of spleen, chronic fever and tuberculosis
  • One attains siddhis i.e. supernatural powers by regularly practicing this gesture
  • Awakens the prana shakti i.e. life energy, the hyperactivity of ida and pingala nadis subside with subsequent activation of sushumna nadi i.e. central channel of the body
  • Since this gesture is done by combining Shambhavi Mudra i.e. eyebrow gazing, it calms the mind
  • Balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, generates peace and calmness of the mind
  • Removes afflictions and the causes of death
  • Increases concentration power and self confidence
  • Boosts up the immune system and its functioning capacity
  • Strengthens various muscle groups, mainly muscles of lower back, upper back, abdomen and shoulders
  • It improves the control over sexual potential
    Read – 16 Factors To Watch For A Healthy Mind And Body

Precautions and contraindications

  • Pregnant women shall avoid this gesture
  • It is contraindicated in conditions like eye disorders, glaucoma, hypertension, heart diseases, chronic back inflammation and abdominal inflammation etc

Effect on Chakras

It enables the travel of pranic energy between muladhara and vishuddha i.e. root and throat chakras, charge the whole body with pranic energy

In this practice of holding the breath in this gesture, the throat gets contracted. The prana energy is pushed down towards the lower part of the body i.e. apana vayu zone. It meets the upcoming apana at the navel center i.e. Manipura Chakra. This subsequently awakens the prana energy.

Impact on Doshas

By seeing the benefits of Maha Mudra it can be inferred that it calms and balances vata, increases and activates pitta and digestive fire and decreases the morbid kapha. It is extremely useful in balancing the apana vayu and its functions. It balances the prana vayu – apana vayu axis. It also balances raja and tama i.e. the contaminants of the mind.

About the tissues – this gesture strengthens and energizes the muscles. It is good for improving the quality and quantity of shukra dhatu i.e. semen tissue and also for optimum formation of ojus, the essence of all the tissues. This enables in leading good physical, mental and spiritual health.

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