Often, don’t we feel our inner harmony has lost? What could be the reason behind it? Is it because of some negative emotions, the food we ate or things that we ingest from our surroundings?
The reason for it could be anything, but surely there is something wrong accumulated inside the body, and elimination of it is necessary to regain the inner harmony.
In yoga, mudras or hand postures are the most straightforward practices to get over physical and mental ailments of the body.
Finger positions in Apana mudra create an energy circuit that helps in eliminating wastes and negative thoughts, thus maintain the inner harmony in the body.
Apana Mudra: The Gesture of Elimination
When the waste and toxins accumulate in the body, it creates an imbalance in our physical & mental state.
Apana Mudra is one such mudra that helps in eliminating the wastes, faces & toxins from the body and negative vrittis from the mind.
The mechanism of Apana mudra’s elimination can be understood by knowing the energy associated with five fingers.
- Thumb – Energy of Fire
- Index Finger – Energy of Air
- Middle Finger – Ether energy
- Ring Finger – Earth (Grounding) energy
- Little Finger – Water energy
Usually, the energy associated with our fingers is dissipated into the environment. When fingers in a yoga mudra come in contact with each other, it creates a loop or closed circuit. This loop or circuit is the representation of giving a direction to energy (by joining fingers in mudra). Further, this energy travels back to our body (instead dissipating in the environment) and helps in balancing bodily elements.
For elimination in the body, earth and ether elements play an essential role. When there is an imbalance arises in these two elements, the body becomes heavy because of constriction in organs of elimination (anus and genital organ).
In Apana Mudra, you bring earth and ether element in contact with the element of fire (thumb). In yogic psychology, fire is considered the principal element that distorts imbalances present in other elements.
Hence, by practicing Apana mudra, elements associated with elimination in the body get balance.
Apana Mudra & Apana Vayu
As per the yogic physiology, our body is composed of 5 Pranas (vital life force). These 5 Pranas are:
- prana Vayu – Upward moving energy lies in the heart
- Apana Vayu – Downward moving energy lies in the core of pelvic floor area
- Samana Vayu – Balancing energy lies at navel
- Udana Vayu – The energy of movement lies in joints of the body
- Vyana Vayu – Pervades whole body and mind
These 5 Pranas are the part of subtle body system & hence, lies in the Pranamaya kosha. You can understand the concept of koshas (5 layers of body) here.
Out of these 5 Pranas, Apana Vayu deals with excretion or removal of bodily wastes as feces, gas, urination, sweating & bleeding during menstrual cycle also.
Internal organs present between navel to the perineum is connected through nadis (subtle energy system) which end up on middle and ring finger in both hands. To balance the functioning associated with these organs (which is basically elimination), playing with middle and ring fingers is the easiest way.
The main motive of Apana Mudra is to regulate Apana Vayu and hence clear all 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 fire element in the thumb, there would be channelization of the energies in the right direction.
So in Apana mudra, we join the tip of the middle and ring finger with the tip of the thumb to balance the Apana Vayu present in the body.
How to Do Apana Mudra
Follow the following steps to perform Apana mudra in a yoga session.
- Sit comfortably in a meditative posture (Sukhasana, Padmasana & Siddhasana, etc.) on your yoga mat.
- Now, close your eyes and bring awareness to the breath coming in & out of the nostrils. Do this for a couple of breath. This breathing will help you to internalize your Chitta or consciousness.
Finger Arrangement in Apana Mudra
- Fold your both hands middle and ring finger towards the thumb and bring your thumb closer to the folded fingers.
- Gently press folded finger’s tip against the tip of the thumb. Keep rest two fingers straight, as extended as possible.
- Now, place your both hands (with this arrangement) over the kneecap, palm facing upward. Keep finger arrangement motionless for the entire practice.
It’s the practicing steps for Apana mudra.
Time & Duration
Though there is no specific time of practicing Apana mudra, but for best results, one can plan to regularize this mudra in the morning session in conjunction with pranayama practice.
Other times, you can also do it after having a meal (especially when feeling nausea) for better digestion.
Either practice apana mudra for a duration of 30 to 45 minutes or in three sessions of 10 to 15 minutes.
To assess the effective duration of mudra practice, research 1 shows when mudra is performed for just 5 minutes, then there is not much difference in the EPI parameters. But when it is performed at a stretch of 20 minutes, then there was a detectable change in the EPI parameters. In fact, the mudras can be practiced for more than 20 minutes too, to bring about changes in the flow of energy within the body.
Precautions & Contraindications
- Most people join finger’s complete distal phalanx to do this mudra. Right finger arrangement in Apana mudra is when the middle, ring, and thumb touching tip to tip (the extreme end of distal phalanx) only.
- Before performing apana or any other mudra, make sure you put off finger rings, watch, bangles, or other things which can create obstacle in performing it.
- People having osteoarthritis or suffered from Chikungunya in the past can have a problem in folding or forming a complete circle with the fingers. In this case, the person should need to consult a doctor before doing it regularly.
Benefits of Apana Mudra
- Research 2 done in the past have proven the therapeutic benefits of Apana mudra in curing Diabetes. Especially for type 2 diabetes patients, it promotes deep relaxation and eliminates stress.
- People suffering from regular stomach pain, gas, constipation can relieve by practicing this mudra. As these all problems arise due to undigested food particles, Apana mudra regulates these undigested food particles in the downward direction (to the organ of elimination). Hence, it cures all stomach related problems.
- Apana mudra strengthens leg joints because when hands are placed over the kneecap, it stimulates the nadis (energy channel) run from knees, up the inside of the thighs, and into the perineum.
- This mudra opens the blocked sweat glands to remove impurities from the pores of the body. It also regulates the blockages in urination & excretion of feces. This functioning is the reason Apana mudra also called the purification mudra.
- Apana mudra also beneficial for women during the menstrual cycle to get rid of cramps.
- This mudra can also be practiced in preventing heart diseases and balancing three doshas.
- Apana mudra balances the energy of root chakra and thus, helps in awakening the kundalini energy that resides in the perineum.
- In Hindu rituals, Apana mudra is a way to show the naivedyam or offerings to the god. It’s called Apana oblation.
- 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.
- Duration of yoga mudra https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5934951/
- Apana mudra for diabetes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6145966/