Mudra simply means “seal” or “symbolic gesture”. The practice of mudras is an integral part of traditional yoga practice.
Hasta mudras in yoga are hand positions performed to channel subtle life force energy (Known as Prana) within the body. It allows us to go inward and thus helps in deepening the meditation effect.
Different hand mudras involve the use of fingers in specific patterns which affects the body and mind in a certain way.
In this article, we will see the benefits of Apana mudra, how it works, and detailed steps to perform it in yoga.
What is Apana mudra?
Apana mudra is a basic hasta mudra or yoga hand gesture that promotes the downward movement of energy in the body. It’s linked with Apana Vayu, one of the five prana vayus according to yogic tradition.
Because apana vayu is the energy governing the removal of waste in the physical body, apana mudra is good for detoxification of the body by eliminating toxins and waste. For women, it helps regulate the menstrual cycle. This is why it is also called the “Mudra for Purification”.
Benefits of Apana Mudra
- Detoxifies the body. Apana mudra helps the organ of excretion to remove bodily wastes and excess water in urine. Also, it’s a good mudra for kidney stones, bladder stones, and urinary tract related conditions.
- Strengthens the immune system. Apana mudra strengthens the immune system of the body. It eliminates free radicals that can damage cells and lower the body’s immune system.
- Improves digestion. Apana mudra strengthens the digestive organs’ functions since it promotes the downward movement of energy. It also regulates better bowel movement and pushes the undigested food particles for elimination.
- Alleviates stomach problems. Regular practice of apana mudra removes and reduces the problem of constipation, acidity, gas, pain, indigestion, etc. by stimulating the abdominal organs.
- Prevent heart ailments and diseases, chest pains, and breathing disorders.
- Regulates the menstrual cycle. Women can especially benefit from apana mudra as it helps relieve cramps and problems of irregular cycles.
- Helps control diabetes. Apana mudra promotes relaxation and eliminates stress in diabetes patients. Research done in the past has proven the therapeutic benefits of Apana mudra in curing Diabetes, especially for type 2 diabetes patients.
- Makes you feel secure. Doing apana mudra with pranayama and meditation helps us calm inwardly. It aids in releasing unwanted emotions, thoughts, and experiences, thus making you feel more grounded and in control.
- Spiritual benefits. Apana mudra helps in awakening the kundalini energy. This mudra balances root chakra energy and thus helps in activating the kundalini shakti that resides in this chakra.
- It creates a direct link between Koshas (annamaya kosha, pranamaya kosha, and manomaya kosha). Direct link promotes a balance between the physical body, pranic body, and the mental body.
Also read: 7 Mudras for balancing 7 chakras
How to Do Apana Mudra?
The hand position of Apana mudra is very simple. You keep both hands straight, micro bend your middle and ring finger and join (these) fingertips with the thumb tip. Rest two fingers, index and pinky fingers are kept straight or lightly stretched. Make this gesture with both hands.
Typically, the ideal time to perform apana mudra is early morning to stimulate your bowel movement. When doing any other time of the day, you can do this mudra 2 hours after a meal for better digestion. Also, it can be done whenever you are feeling nauseous. Performing on an empty stomach can also prove to be beneficial.
Also read: When and what to eat before and after yoga
In addition to this, apana mudra should be done for 45 minutes to get optimum results. If you can’t sit 45 minutes at a stretch, in one session try to hold this mudra for 15 minutes. This way, do it 3 times a day.
Below are the steps to practice it;
- Sit comfortably on your yoga mat in a meditative position such as the lotus pose (padmasana) or easy pose (sukhasana). Your spine should be straight and your head properly aligned.
- Close your eyes and place your hands on your thighs or knees with palms up.
- Join the tip of the thumb to the tips of the ring and middle finger on both hands. The index finger and little finger should be kept straight, yet relaxed. Keep moderate pressure on the tips.
- Initially hold the mudra for a minimum of 10 minutes. Extend this duration up to 20 minutes.
- Slowly separate your finger and keep your eyes closed for another couple of minutes.
- Sit in silence before you get up from your position.
Precautions & Contraindications
- Pregnant women should not practice apana mudra for the first 8 months as the strong downward pull can lead to mishappenings. However, during the 9th month, you can practice this mudra to ease the process of childbirth.
- If you suffer from diarrhea, cholera, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome or any digestion problem should practice this mudra with extreme caution. Consult a yoga teacher or your doctor.
- People having osteoarthritis or who have previously suffered from Chikungunya can have a problem with the movement of the fingers or hands. Such a person should consult a doctor before doing it regularly.
- Those with excess vata and kapha dosha should perform apana mudra in moderation.
How does apana mudra work?
As per yogic physiology, energy in our body moves in the form of 5 prana vayus. These are:
- Prana Vayu – Upward moving energy lies in the heart
- Apana Vayu – Downward moving energy lies in the core of the pelvic floor area
- Samana Vayu – Balancing energy lies at the navel
- Udana Vayu – The energy of movement lies in the joints of the body
- Vyana Vayu – Pervades whole body and mind
Out of these 5 pranas, apana vayu deals with excretion or removal of bodily wastes such as feces, gas, urination, sweating & bleeding during the menstrual cycle. The downward flow is also helpful at the time of childbirth.
The main purpose of doing apana mudra is to regulate apana vayu and hence clear all lower body imbalances and disturbances. In this mudra, the middle finger represents the outward moving energy, and the ring finger represents the downward moving energy.
When these fingers combine with the thumb (fire element), the resultant energy is channelled in the downward direction. This can alleviate problems like constipation, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, impotence, etc. All the problems that occur in the organs of the lower abdomen and pelvis can be taken care of by apana mudra.
Apana mudra relationship with five elements and doshas
In doing Apana mudra you actually form two hand mudras together; Akash mudra (joining middle fingertip to thumb tip) and Prithvi mudra (joining ring fingertip to thumb tip). Therefore this mudra balance the energy of two of the five elements of the body.
Also read: Panch tatva – Five elements of the body
Apana mudra helps balance the earth and space elements in contact with the fire element.
- By balancing space element, apana mudra helps in diseases relating to the heart, lungs, ear and throat
- By balancing earth element, this mudra strengthens the physical body and fulfills vitamin/mineral deficiencies.
Apana mudra effectively increases the vata and kapha dosha while decreasing the pitta dosha. It regulates apana vata in terms of elimination, menstruation, and ejaculation. The heaviness created in the body due to an imbalance in the earth and space elements, restricting the outflow of waste, can be countered by the fire element.
The organs such as the colon, small intestines, and urinary bladder along with the organs of the reproductive system are effectively stimulated. This helps with the proper passage of farts, feces, and urine as well as successful delivery of the fetus and regulated flow during menstruation.
Moreover, apana mudra does not only help with physical elimination, it is extremely effective in removing negative thoughts from the mind.
If you’re facing troubles with your stomach or feel a heaviness in your body, apana mudra can aid in releasing this heaviness. It is a great mudra to complement your meditation and pranayama practice. It will also allow your mind to become calm and peaceful through the elimination of mental clutter.
So the next time you feel angry or frustrated or have an upset stomach, you know which mudra to practice.
My problem is tea irritants the bladder causing leakages. Going to decaf tea causes sleepiness all day. Will apana vayu help heal the bladder and let me go back to regular tea?
Sir can you say about any hasta mudras that can balance samana vayu
Samana mudra, on the name of Samana Vayu itself, can balance Samana Vayu.
I am in 9th month pregnancy now how many minutes can I practice Apana Mudra and when should we do so that we can have a normal delivery?
Yes, from the beginning of the 9th month in pregnancy you can practice Apana Mudra 3 to 4 times a day being 10 minutes each session. You can choose any time of the day to do it, even while lying in bed. It will ease labour pain and ensure a normal delivery 🙂
i have been practicing this apana mudra since 15 days and i consume 3 liters of water. the problem is i have to get up three times for urine in night and i am 70 years old with prostate problem. in course of time this problem will disappear or not. i am doing this 10 minutes in morning and 10 minutes in evening. also i do pruthvi mudra in same manner. i also do some more mudras for health. can you pl clarify this.
thanking you sir,
k sesha chary
As Apana mudra promotes the flow of downward flow in the body, frequent urination could be a side effect of it when you do it excessively. To avoid this, you can practice Varun Mudra just after apana mudra to eliminate the retained water from your body. Also, if frequent urination is common to you, do Vajroli mudra to cure this problem. It will control the stimulus of the urogenital system.
Are yogasana good for glaucoma patients? Which poses are advisable to practice?
I am doing Apana Mudra for the last 5 weeks to get cured for constipation. My age is 84 yrs. Can you tell me how much time Mudra does take to effect on the human body?
Any mudra usually asks 5 to 6 weeks of consistent practice in order to get cured of a physical problem. Apana mudra is good in the case of constipation, however, there might be other digestive disorders causing constipation. For that, you should check mudras for digestion, especially Pushan mudra.
Thank you sir for your reply
Can I do Apan Mudra and Pushan Mudra.One in the mornimg and the other in the evening for 45 min. each.Also how many Mudras one can do in a day.
R N Rastogi
Can Apana mudra cure UTI without any medication?
Yes, as Apana Vayu in our body is responsible for the elimination process so it can cure urinary tract infection (UTI). However, it can take a little longer to cure based on the history of your infection.
What is best mudra for piles?
Apana mudra and Ashwini mudra.
Can apana Mudra ease labour pain ? If yes , then When can one start doing it in pregnancy and how ?
Yes, you can do Apana mudra to ease the labor pain. It’s very recommended during pregnancy. One can begin practicing Apana mudra from the very beginning until the last day of pregnancy. To perform it any comfortable position, bring your middle & ring finger in contact with the thumb. That’s all. It’ll definitely help.
I was taught that Pregnant women cant practice this from early months…since it regulates energy downwards and out of the body to push things out, it can result in a miscarriage. Hence please get a clarification on when Pregnant ladies can practice this mudra.
Yes, you’re right. It’s not advised to do Apana mudra in the early months of pregnancy. However, it’s beneficial in delayed delivery or to ease the pain in pregnant ladies during the 9th month.
Does apana mudra works for premature ejacualtion issue??
Yes, Apana mudra can help you with this. You should understand it in a broad manner that Apana mudra regulates all functions related to sexual organs hence beneficial in sexual disorders.
Other beneficial practices in Premature ejaculation are:
Asanas – Dhanurasana, Paschimottoansana, Gomukasana
Pranayama – Kapalbhati, Anulom vilom pranayama
Mudras – Mehabheda mudra
Whether I can practice Apana mudra and Shoonya mudra together. Because I have tinnitus and menstrual problems also and gall stones so please reply which is better
For menstrual problems, Apana mudra will definitely help you. Also, as shunya mudra is the dominator of the space element in the body, it will help you out with tinnitus problems. There would not any harm if you practice these two mudras one after another.
I have tinnitus so can i pratice shoonya mudra
And i have menstrual problems also which is better sir ?
Thank you so much. It is one of the best explanations for mudra I have read.
I am glad you liked my explanation, Michael. Thanks for the appreciation.
Is apana mudra practiced by lying on bed?
Yes, Apana mudra can be practiced by lying on the bed if you have back pain or some other problems while sitting for long hours.
While thanking your good selves for your reply regarding my doubt with reg to Shunya mudra and Apana Mudra , my point is not cleared. My doubt is , if I practise Shunya mudra and Apana mudra one after another , will Apana mudra make the effect of Shunya mudra less effective . Because in Shunya mudra , we fold the Middle finger , whereas in Apana mudra we keep the middle finger straight .
No, Apana mudra will’not reduce the effect of Shunya mudra because in both mudras the key point (tip of middle finger) is stimulated by gentle pressure. However, for the particular ailment you were referring to, Apana mudra isn’t recommended.
Inf reg Apana Mudra is very informative. Thank you a lot. I would like to get my doubt cleared with reg to Apana Mudra. That is , can one having Tinnitus problem practise Apana mudra? Because , I do Shunya mudra for Tinnitus by folding Middle finger. But in Apana mudra , we HV to keep the middle finger straight . Will it not affect the effect of Shunya mudra ? Pl guide.
Apana mudra is not a good option for problems related to Tinnitus because the prominent working area of apana vayu (regulated by apana mudra) is navel to perineum, urinary system & reproductive system i.e. lower body organs. As Tinnitus is an ear-related problem, it could be caused by a disturbance of Prana Vayu (as Prana is a dominant force in head region). So along with shunya mudra, Prana Mudra is a better option for you rather than Apana mudra.
Can proctitis heals with this mudra??
To increase your healing efficiency, you can practice apana vayu mudra along with Anti-inflammatory drugs (prescribed by your doctor) for proctitis. As this mudra regulates apana vayu & apana vayu eases the flow of downward flowing air through the lower digestive system to the rectum & finally to the anus.
After reading numerous sites on mudra this site was the most comprehensive and clearly written. Though familiar somewhat of mudras cannot say used them enough to give them a test so to speak…( been healthy most of my life) .Now having a long, long term intestinal problem decided to try several mudras twice a day, (30-35 minutes mostly at night since am prone to insomnia and liking to listen to music… After a week without any of my usual supplements etc my bowels starting functioning like I was a kid.
(am close to 80 yr old). That got my attention for sure. A question that is addressed slightly on some sites does doing just one hand work half as well as two hands?
Thanks for this website.
Definitely, doing any hand mudras by just one hand would half down its efficiency. So it’s preferred to perform hand mudras from both hands.
Good and useful explanation
Narrated in a fitting manner. Absolutely a wonderful article.