Apana mudra helps in body detox and digestion by stimulating the excretion system to flush out toxins off the body.
Gheranda Samhita, one of the classic yoga text manuals, terms apana mudra as the mudra of digestion.
Alternative names of Apana Mudra:
- Mudra for digestion
- Mudra for detoxification
- Apan mudra
- Apaan mudra
What is Mudra
Mudra means gesture. Mudra is a way of self expression by using hands, eyes, legs or any other body part. In Buddhism and Hinduism, mudras are in use since ancient time for rituals, meditation and therapeutic benefits.
Apana Mudra is a Hand Mudra
Apana mudra is a type of hand mudra where fingers of the hands are used to produce a particular hand posture.
According to ancient Hindu (and Buddhist) philosophy, the whole universe, including human body is made up of 5 basic elements- fire, air, ether (space), earth and water.
In our body, the fingers of our hands represent these 5 elements:
Five fingers represent five elements
- Thumb Fire
- Index finger Air
- Middle finger Space (ether)
- Ring finger Earth
- Little (pinky) finger Water
Any imbalance in these five elements can disturb our immune system to make our body an easy target for various physical and mental disorders.
By performing hand mudras, we can re-establish the balance among these 5 elements in our body for health and happiness.
These hand gestures direct the flow of energy in our body in a certain manner to produce the desired therapeutic benefit. In other words, you can say that these hand mudras act as locks to guide the flow of energy in a certain way in our body.
Apana Mudra helps in Body Detox and Digestion
In Sanskrit, Apana means downward moving force. Apana mudra governs the pelvic region of your body.
The pelvic region refers to the lower abdomen of the body. It contains digestive and reproductive organs.
In short, Apana mudra facilitates smooth and harmonious downward moving force in the digestive and reproductive organs of the body to regulate the movement of body toxins downward. In relieves constipation and makes the bowel movements regular. It increases sweating and urination also.
Also, it helps in regulating the menstrual cycles in women.
How to do Apana Mudra
- The tips of middle and index fingers would jointly touch the tip of the thumb. Remaining two fingers would be stretched out.
- This mudra should be done with both hands simultaneously.
- While in apana mudra, the hands can rest on the sides or just rest them on the lap.
- You can do it while sitting or walking or lying down.
- Breathe normally and try to observe the inhalation and exhalation process.
- For best results, it should be practiced in the sitting posture in the Vajrasana pose because Vajrasana itself aids in digestion by increasing the flow of blood to the pelvis.
Read more: Vajrasana for Digestion and Weight loss
- If sitting in vajrasana is painful to you, just sit in simple cross-legged position (Sukhasana) with a straight spine.
When to do and for how long
- You should practice Apana mudra for a minimum of 10 minutes and maximum of 45 minutes. Although there is no harm in going beyond 45 minutes, but for therapeutic benefits, 45 minutes is quite sufficient.
- If you can’t practice for full 45 minutes in one go, do it in 3 installments of 15 minutes each.
- A hand mudra like apana mudra channelize the energy in our body to produce therapeutic benefits. Ideally, it should be practiced in the morning, empty stomach so that all the energy can be utilized freely.
- Otherwise, you can do it at any time throughout the day by maintaining a gap of at least 2 hours between meals and mudra.
- It would not be much effective to practice apana mudra immediately after the meals because a lot of energy would be involved in the digestion process itself.
How toxins are build up in our body
Apana mudra is a hand mudra for body detoxification. So, let us try to understand the process of toxins build up in our body.
Every day, when we eat food, the nutrients contained in the food are burnt to provide necessary energy to our body. The oxygen that we breathe in from the environment acts as a catalyst here.
These body wastes (toxins) can be divided in three categories:
- Gaseous like carbon dioxide- to be removed through lungs by breathing out.
- Liquid like urine and sweat- to be excreted through kidney (urination) and skin (sweating)
- Solid like stool- to be eliminated through colon by bowel movements
Elimination of these body toxins from our body is a normal routine process carried out by our body metabolism. The problem arises when this process gets obstructed due to our own faulty lifestyle habits such as:
- Drinking less fluids- water and other liquids
- Sedentary lifestyle with little or no physical movement
- Unhealthy diet with more intake of highly processed foods rich in salt, sugar, saturated fats and refined white flour
- Eating less of fibrous foods- whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables
- Overeating or skipping meals
- Irregular meal timing
- Improper sleep
- Excessive consumption of tobacco (smoking) and alcohol
- Stress, anxiety and tension in daily life
Apart from these lifestyle habits, chronic illness and nutritional deficiency also hamper the process of body detoxification.
Whatever be the reason, disruption in the elimination process results in slow and gradual build up of toxins in the body. If corrective actions are not taken, these toxins would accumulate in the body tissues and blood to circulate throughout the body making you ill, very ill. From a minor skin break out to a fatal disease like Cancer, excessive body toxins do have a role to play in every health disorder.
The Overall Health Benefits of Apana Mudra
- Body detox and Digestion– As already discussed, it helps in body detox and digestion. It relieves indigestion, gastritis, constipation and hemorrhoids (piles).
- Healthy, glowing skin– Your skin is the reflection of your gut health. Almost all the skin problems- – acne, pimples, blemishes, eczema, psoriasis- are related to your inner body metabolism in one way or the other. If you are digesting the food properly and excreting the body waste (toxins) smoothly, you would automatically improve your skin health also. Panchkarma, an Ayurveda body detox process brings very good results in relieving symptoms of even the most complex skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema. Regular practice of apana mudra can speed up the elimination process to help you get a clear, glowing skin.
- Regulates diabetes– By increasing urination, apana mudra can help reduce the blood sugar level to regulate diabetes.
- Increases the energy level– If you don’t have a smooth bowel movement in the morning, you feel sluggish and low in energy throughout the whole day. On the contrary, smooth bowel movements lift your mood and make you feel energetic. By detoxifying your body, apana mudra makes you feel light, energetic and cheerful.
- Clears sinus infection
- Relieves menstruation symptoms
- As apana mudra generates a strong downward pulling force in the body, it should not be performed by pregnant women during the initial 8 months of the pregnancy as it can cause miscarriage. During the 9th month, it can actually help in smooth and easy childbirth.
- People suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, cholera and colitis should not practice apana mudra
- Don’t practice Apana mudra immediately after the meals. Practice it at least 2 hours after a heavy meal.
Apana mudra is a safe, easy to practice and effective yoga mudra for people of all ages. Just like any other yoga exercise, it would not bring miraculous results overnight. Practice it regularly for at least 6 to 8 weeks to get good results.
One more thing- apana mudra helps in body detox and digestion. There is no doubt about it. But, it is not just everything. It would work in cohesion with a healthy nutritious diet, regular physical workout and regular daily routine to bring the best results for you.
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