Prana Mudra

 

 

Respecting an initiatory, traditional element, characteristic to Prana Mudra, we recommend that you practice this exercise only when you are completely alone in the room.

This does not mean that you cannot share this technique with some other people, it simply means that it is better if you perform it secretly.

The asana-s can be practiced together with other people, without diminishing or affecting their effects in any way. However, the Prana Mudra should be performed in secret.

The yogic texts are categorical regarding Prana Mudra and they assert clearly that any presence, including that of your lover is a disturbing element, preventing us from perceiving the secret effect of the technique, as well as its profound and spiritual sense of this complex pranayama technique.

The recommendations and the urge to secrecy go even further regarding Prana Mudra, as not even the results obtained after its practice should not be shared with anyone, except for ones trusted and trustworthy guru.

More than any other technique, Prana Mudra is a genuine dialogue with ourselves, done in the intimacy of our own being. The maximum emotional intensity that can be triggered by Prana Mudra performed in solitude.

THE AURA BECOMES SHINY AND BRIGHT
Prana Mudra is a valuable exercise of breathing, whose numerous benefits had been confirmed by the greatest yogis of India. This exercise enhances the capacity of awareness and control of the subtle energies.

Through intense activation of the subtle energies of the fire, our aura becomes larger, purer and brighter. Moreover, due to the focus in the chest area occurs a powerful process of awakening of the soul and revelation of our divine nature.

The plus of energy of the pranic forces activated by this type of breathing, associated with the magnetic force irradiating from the fingers generate an unusual state, characterized at the same time by an effervescent dynamism and inner state of focus, and the balance of these two apparently contradicting tendencies leads to the desire to interiorize.

This natural tendency is so intense, that some people have said that Prana Mudra awakens the faith in God. This technique is also included in the category of the mudras- symbolic gestures, expressions and apparently simple physical attitudes that trigger remarkable effects.


Before approaching the first part of the exercise, we suggest you to have a close look at the pictures in order to understand properly both the final position and the intermediary stages.

You will understand that Prana Mudra is a special pranayama exercise, combined with movements of the arms and hands. You can do Prana Mudra from Padmasana (The Lotus Pose), Siddhasana (The Perfect Pose), or Vajrasana (The Lightning Pose). People who cannot perform any of these asanas, due to health reasons, we recommend to practice it sitting on a chair.

THE FIRST STAGE – RETENTION ON VOID
The hands are oriented towards the abdomen, as if they irradiate towards this area. The spine should be perfectly straight.


 

Exhale all the air from the lungs, performing in the last phase of the exhalation a contraction of the abdominal muscles. This contraction is associated with Mula Bandha. Before inhaling, stay in retention for several seconds.

THE SECOND STAGE – THE DIAPHRAGMATIC STAGE
Relax the abdominal muscles, cease to do Mula Bandha, decontracting the perineal area, and start to inhale slowly. The air enters the lungs and the diaphragm comes down, pressing the lower abdomen.

THE THIRD STAGE – THE “RIB” STAGE
While the diaphragm becomes flat, the hands climb towards the solar plexus (Manipura Chakra). The inhalation follows its own course, the lungs are filled with air, and the elbows are spread from the trunk in order to allow the thorax to open harmoniously and fully.

The fingers are no longer oriented towards the body, but they are parallel with the thorax and continue to go upwards in front of the chest, until the lungs will be filled with air.


 

At the end of this phase, the hands are close to the clavicle, the elbows are not close to the trunk and the arms are parallel to the floor. The fingers are oriented towards the body.


 

THE FOURTH STAGE – THE “CLAVICLE” STAGE
After the diaphragm has become flat, and the thorax is completely open, you can inhale a certain quantity of air in the upper part of the lungs, by lifting the shoulders.

The inhalation is complete when the hands pass before the throat and the face and go away from the body until the arms are wide open, and the palms are facing up, as if to capture the sun-rays. At this time, the muscles are relaxed, and the lungs are completely filled with air.


 

THE FIFTH STAGE – THE RETENTION WITH THE LUNGS FILLED WITH AIR
Stand still and retain the breath for as long as possible, without forcing ourselves, in a state of transfigured inwardness.


 

Increase the duration of the retention progressively, without forcing it, while the organism becomes used to the longer retentions. This is the most important stage of the exercise because it requires a certain mental attitude, which we will describe later on.

THE SIXTH STAGE – THE EXHALATION
The exhalation requires the same gestures as in the case of the inhalation, only in the reverse order. Empty your lungs in their upper part, then the thorax, and then the abdominal area. The hands go down slowly, so that at the end of the exhalation they are oriented again towards the abdomen, which has to be contracted in order to eliminate the final residues of air.


 

Uttytha Ardha Dhanurasana

 

 

ETYMOLOGY: This pose is in some ways a variant of DHANURASANA. The Sanskrit term UTTYTHA means “lifted”, and the term ARDHA means “half”. Consequently, the name of this asana may be translated as “the half arch standing”.

 


 


 

The right side:

 


 


 

BENEFICIAL EFFECTS
From a physical point of view, this asana has all the beneficial effects of DHANURASANA. The muscular extension allows the spine to gain in flexibility. This pose is also a good preparation for the practice of DHANURASANA.

Garudasana

 

 

ETYMOLOGY: in Sanskrit, GARUDA means eagle, and consequently, GARUDASANA may be translated as “the pose of the eagle”.

GUIDELINES: GARUDASANA is a pose that grants mental equilibrium to the practitioner as well as better mental focus.

 


 


 

 

 

 

BENEFICIAL EFFECTS:

Men experiencing testicle dilatation should slightly bend their trunk towards the front, while performing it.

There is also a variant of this pose, for people who are not able to perform it as such.

THE LEFT SIDE:
Stand on your feet, soles slightly spread and parallel. Bend your right leg, placing the entire surface of your sole on the inner side of the thigh, as high as possible. Then bring your hands together, as in prayer, pressing them together.


 

Maintain your balance, supporting your weight on the left foot only; eyes open, looking to a spot placed approximately at the level of the forehead, in front of you. Keep the spine straight while you perform this asana.

THE RIGHT SIDE:
Stand on your feet, soles slightly spread and parallel. Bend your left leg, placing the entire surface of your sole on the inner side of the thigh, as high as possible. Then bring your hands together, as in prayer, pressing them together.


 

Maintain your balance, supporting your weight on the right foot only; eyes open, looking to a spot placed approximately at the level of the forehead, in front of you. Keep the spine straight while you perform this asana.

The focus is exactly as explained above, trying to perceive exactly the same as in the case of Garudasana. The beneficial effects of this variant are the same, yet not as powerful as those of Garudasana.

Bhadrasana

 

 


 

ETYMOLOGY:
The English translation of the Sanskrit term BHADRA is “throne”. BHADRASANA means thus “the posture of the throne”. This physical /bodily posture must not be mistaken for BHADRASANA, “the posture of the blessing”, which is quite different.

BACKGROUND:
The great Yogi GORAKSHA used to spend much time sitting in this posture. Therefore, this asana bears also the name GORKSHASANA. In other texts, you may find this asana under the name BADDHA KONASANA. BADDHA means “caught”, “held”, and KONASANA means “angle”.

In the renowned yogic treatise HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA, sloka 55-56-57 we find the following description:

“Place the heels on either side of the seam of the Perineum, keeping the left heel on the left side and the right one on the right side, holding the feet firmly joined to one another with both the hands. This Bhadrasana is the destroyer of all diseases.

The expert Yogis call this Goraksa asana. By sitting with this asana, the Yogi gets rid of fatigue.”

 




BENEFICIAL EFFECTS:

  • This asana acts efficiently on the muscles and ligaments of the pelvic floor and on the genital-urinary system. It also renders the articulations of the thighs and knees more elastic.
  • The stretching of the muscles and ligaments causes an intense excitation of the proprioreceptors. Through the vegetative centres in the hypothalamus, the activity of the heart and respiratory system are highly stimulated.
  • This posture is remarkable as regards its effects in the case of anal-rectal diseases. The constant practice of this asana cures the haemorrhoids.
  • The pelvis, abdomen, and back are highly flooded with blood and thus stimulated.
  • Brings and maintains a state of perfect health of the kidneys, prostate, and urinary tract.
  • Prevents hernia.
  • Eliminates the states of certain forms of frigidity. Practised in combination with SARVANGASANA and SHALABASANA (asanas which will be presented furthermore in this section) it brings to normal the internal activity of the ovaries. It may be included in the training programme of pregnant women, preparing them for a painless delivery.
  • You may perform this asana right after eating because it stimulates and facilitates the digestion, even increasing the appetite to a healthy level.CAUTION:
  • It is forbidden to practice this asana if you suffer of sciatica, especially during the crisis. Nevertheless, if it is practised moderately, without forcing, BHADRASANA may eliminate sciatic pain.

Yogamudra

 

 


ETYMOLOGY:

The translation for YOGA MUDRA is “The Yogic Gesture” or “The Yoga Symbol”.

This asana is mentioned in the GHERANDHA SAMHITA as YOGASANA, and is remembered between the 32 most important asanas in Yoga.




BENEFICIAL EFFECTS
The trunk bent towards the front, the digestion is highly stimulated.
The forward bent acts efficiently especially on the lumbar area. The vertebras are released from pressure, while the ligaments and the muscles along the spine are stretched.

It also acts on the pelvic area of the parasympathetic, contributing to the stimulation of the activity of the male and female sexual organs.
It cures rheumatic pain, and also arthritis.
It is recommended in the cases of platfus, practised for at least 15 minutes daily, for several months.
This asana should be moderately practised by people suffering of advanced arthritis or obesity.
The famous Yogi, Brahmachari said that this asana, if practised for 15 minutes, eases the fever, owing to the position of the head, in contact with the ground.

The Cobra Pose

 

 


 

ETYMOLOGY:
In Sanskrit, Bujanga means cobra. Thus, the translation of the term Bhujangasana is the “posture of the cobra”. Its name derives from the resemblance of this asana with the position of the cobra when it is ready to attack.




EFFECTS AND BENEFITS:
This asana keeps the spine flexible and young. It rapidly eliminates hunchback, pains in the back, lumbago crisis, mialgia, etc.

Its perseverent practice brings to normal misplaced vertebras and ameliorates the irrigation of the spine and of the two rows of ganglions belonging to sympatic nervous system. Thus, this asana cures many functional disorders and even organic lesions.

The function of the thyroid and suprarenal capsules is normalised, causing benefits in certain cases of rheumatism.

This asana eliminates constipation, relieves indigestion and intestinal gas.

Liver, bile, pancreas, spleen, kidneys are favoured by this posture.

It also strengthens the uterus and eggs in the case of women, relieving menstrual pain and curing the lack of menstruation and dismenorea, as well as other genital disorders.

The practice of this asana makes a thin waist, develops harmoniously the muscles of the back and reduces fat. The body has wonderful proportions.

From a psychic point of view the practice of this asana: eliminates the feelings of uncertainty and inferiority, generates a tonic, spiritual, confident, loving attitude.

This asana awakens the fundamental energy of the human being, Kundalini.

Ardha Matsyendrasana

 

 

ETYMOLOGY: MATSYENDRA is a term referring to the lord of the fish, and ARDHA means half.

GENERAL GUIDELINES: MATSYENDRASANA and ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA are asana-s bearing this name because the great yogi MATSYENDRANATHA used to practice them most of his time.

ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA is a pose unique in Hatha Yoga, as it transmits to the spine two ways of spinning, to the left and to the right.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

Padahastasana

 

 

ETYMOLOGY
The English for the Sanskrit PADA is “foot”, and for HASTA is “hand”. Consequently, this asana implies a forward bend of the trunk, touching or grasping the toes with the hands.

 

BENEFICIAL EFFECTS:

  • The practice of this asana makes the shoulders strong and the waist thin.
  • The abdominal organs are toned, the quantity of gastric secretions is greater, and the spleen and the liver are more active.
  • This asana cures different gastric disorders.
  • Displaced vertebras gradually regain their correct position.
  • Other beneficial effects of this asana include: physical growth in height, reaching a normal weight, and an elastic spine.
  • After we practice this asana, we will feel full of vigor for a fairly long time.
  • If there are people who have unequal length to their feet, they may reduce the difference by practicing this asana for three months, and massaging the shorter foot with sunflower oil or mustard oil, both before and after practice.
  • Although this asana is quite simple, even for beginners, it is nonetheless extremely beneficial.

Balancing Prana Vayu and Apana Vayu

 

A Technique for Balancing Two of the Subtle Winds

The exercise we are going to introduce to you is a combination of the yogic efficiency with the simplicity of execution.

This technique is recommendable for both beginners and advanced practitioners. In order to understand this technique, we need to consider first the human being as a transformer of energy, of prana.

An uninterrupted flux of particles, molecules, and atoms traverse the body, not just as solid or liquid form, but also gas, and subtle.

Air that brings us oxygen is also charged with water vapours, and subtle smells, such as the smells of nature play an important role in preserving the health – aromatherapy.

The air contains also energy that is directly assimilated, one of its forms are the negative ions. Consequently, life means changes and transformations. The more active are our changes and interactions with the environment, the more we are alive, in the most dynamic sense of the word.

Our body is a whirl of energy in the universal prana-ic ocean. The yogis perceive distinctly these exchanges of energy with the environment. They even managed to differentiate between these types of energy, and they named them vayu – subtle energy.

The basic sense of the term vayu is sky, which would make someone think of the regular sky, with its chemical components – oxygen, azoth, rare gases.

However, the yogis understand by this word the energies that circulate through the air, in the process of breathing. One absorbs prana-ic energy from the surroundings through prana vayu.

Once the energies are absorbed in the microcircuit of our organism, they have to be personalized and assimilated – this is the function of samana vayu.

Once the body assimilated them, they need to circulate throughout the organism, which is the function of prana vayu. Udana vayu allows the direction and the expression of the energies. The final stage is the elimination, when these energies return to their previous environment. All the functions that concur in this process belong to apana vayu.

THE FUNCTIONS OF THE PRANA AND APANA VAYU
Consequently, the two main vayu-s are prana vayu, which regulates the “intake” of particles and energy, adjusting it to the particular necessities of our organism, and apana vayu, responsible for the elimination of the unabsorbed residues.

We live or we should live balancing these two functions. If apana fails to work properly, the organism is charged with toxins, and lacks vitality and suppleness. One of the main objectives of Hatha Yoga is that of stimulating all the vayu-s in a harmonious manner.

If we act on prana vayu we also need to stimulate apana vayu. Another important objective in Hatha Yoga is to obtain the control over these vayu-s.

This conscious control goes through the control of one function that is alternatively the expression of prana vayu and apana vayu, meaning the breath. While inhaling, the breath is the instrument of prana vayu because it brings us energy.

While exhaling, the breath is the expression of apana vayu, which eliminates the used gases (for instance CO2). The balance of the breath, of the inhalation and exhalation determines the balance of prana vayu and apana vayu.

The following exercise is one of the simplest and most effective in this respect.

STARTING POSITION
Lie back on the floor, relaxed but with a slight contraction of the abdominal muscles so that the lumbar area is on the floor during this exercise. The legs are stretched and they touch each other. It is important to become interiorized and to focus to perceive distinctly the two halves of the body, the left and the right, not the superior and the inferior parts.

We will attempt to balance the sensations at the level of the two halves, without allowing one to predominate over the other, as the right-handed people tend to do with the right side, which they use more. We need to feel that our weight on the left side is the same as on the right side. The arms are also on the floor, along the trunk, palms facing down.

HOW TO DO IT
Each half of the body will work alternatively. First we will work on the left side. Focus on this side, contract the muscles of the shank, flexing the leg. Inhale slowly, lifting up the contracted shank. We need to lift the leg and bring it closer to the body, without lifting or bending the other leg.


 

At this point, the abdominal muscles are very tensed, especially on the left side. At the end of the inhalation, the leg will be in the up position.


 

It is very important to relax the muscles of the right side of the abdomen, pay close attention to the left side, and imagine that you breathe only with this side. It is obvious that the air will get in through both lungs but we need to use the left side to its maximum, as if we were unable to breathe with the right side.

When the inhalation is over, we stop for a few seconds, keeping the lungs filled with air. Before exhaling, stretch the toes and we will perceive other muscles that contract the left shank.


 

Then we exhale slowly, bringing the leg in the starting position. The heel must not touch the ground, before the lungs become empty.


 

REPEATING THE EXERCISE
Begin again, with the same leg, after a few free breaths.

Five executions on the left side will be followed by five executions on the right side. You may even alternate the legs you are working with: one exercise on the left side will be followed by an exercise on the right side, and so on. The way you practice it is up to each of you.

IMPORTANT GUIDELINES
In order to give the exercise the maximum of yogic significance and effectiveness you need to pay close attention to the breath and to make the inhalation and exhalation last an equal interval. You need to synchronize the time and the space. The part of the body that does not work needs to stay inactive.

WHICH PART TO BEGIN WITH?
If you decide to work alternatively, start with the left side. If you decide to work series of five, start with the right side.

CONTRAINDICATIONS
There are no special contraindications for this exercise. Moreover, this exercise has the advantage of the possibility of practicing it even when you are not dressed properly for a yoga session.

THE PLACE IN THE SERIES OF ASANAS
This exercise may be included in a yoga session before the yogic relaxation, but it may also be performed outside of it, for its own advantages.

PHYSICAL EFFECTS
We will make the difference between physical effects and the subtle effects, which are characteristic to the yogic path.

Muscles
This exercise practiced with maximum of interiorization grants a great muscular control and activated each half of the body.

The abdominal musculature is gradually fortified, and so is the musculature of the legs. The legs work hard and therefore they will be toned and we will get a better control over them.

Also the toes will be tensed, then relaxed and stimulated. The effectiveness of this exercise can sometimes be translated through cramps. If this should happen, act immediately and after the cramp has passed, massage the place slowly.

The skeleton
On the first sight, it is not at all obvious that the exercise we described has any effect on the skeleton. However, if the exercise is correctly performed, if we keep the spine on the floor during the execution we may bring the spine, especially the lumbar area in its correct position.

The coxo-femural articulation preserves its mobility and this is an important thing, considering that after the age of 40 the mobility tends to vanish. If this mobility is lost, the mobility of the whole body will have to suffer.

In severe cases, if one loses the mobility of this articulation, he may suffer from premature impotence. The great thing about this exercise is that although at first sight it seems simple, it develops complex physical actions.

The blood circulation
The blood circulation is better when you lie down than when you stand because it is easier to circulate a liquid (the blood) without the interference of gravity. In this position the rising of the leg and the extended breath make the blood act as in the case of Pascals law: the pressure of an incompressible liquid is transmitted into all the senses and is proportional to the column of liquid.

This principle of hydrostatics is highly important for the body. The blood is an incompressible liquid like the water and thus it will transmit the pressure into the entire body and the blood will return faster to the heart.

The cardiac muscle does not need to work as hard and the blood receives more oxygen. This exercise is very effective in preventing cardiac arrests. After a heart attack you may perform this exercise progressively during convalescence.

Abdominal organs
The abdominal organs need, for a proper function the rhythmical contraction of the abdominal muscles during walking or during the other daily activities. In your daily routine, this stimulation is refused most of the day, which results in a decrease of the vitality.

Lifting the leg, we act on the abdominal muscles and thus they stimulate the whole area of the abdomen, the inner organs included. This is why we perform series of five movements. The exercise massages the organs deeply and also superficially.

SUBTLE EFFECTS
Balance and symmetry are two main purposes of yoga. The bodily and prana-ic balance is obtained equalizing the inhalation with the exhalation, and to keep a permanent focus on what is going on in the inner universe.

Some regions of our body are controlled by one or other of these vayu-s. Apana vayu, particularly stimulated by our exercise responds of the area from waist down. Apana vayu is responsible for the elimination of the urine, salts, sperm, menstrual blood, and for the birth process.

In our exercise, the entire action is based on the area governed by apana vayu, with a special effect on the legs and toes. If we make equal the time for an inhalation with that of an exhalation, the prana vayu and the apana vayu will become balanced.

In our exercise, when we try to make one part of the body active and the other passive, prana vayu and apana vayu are energically stimulated by each halves.

If we practice this exercise daily, it will help our spiritual practice, in the sense that asanas such as Halasana, Sarvangasana or Sirshasana will be easier to approach. The perseverant practice of this apparently simple exercise will bring special benefits to the practitioner.