Definition - What does Mahamudra mean?

Mahamudra is a Sanskrit term meaning "great symbol." It comes from the roots maha, meaning "great," and mudra, meaning "symbol or gesture."

Mahamudra can denote a body of teachings within Tibetan Buddhism, which uses mahamudra as a means to view the world as it exists, for all its beauty and perfection. It is a way to achieve harmony and experience bliss.

In yoga, mahamudra has a different meaning. It refers to a mudra in Hatha yoga that governs and improves the practitioner's control over their sexual energy. This is a key step in awakening kundalini.

Yogapedia explains Mahamudra

To practice mahamudra, the individual should begin by sitting on the floor with the legs stretched forward. One leg is folded so the heel presses against the perineum. On an exhale, the practitioner slowly bends forward to hold the big toe of the outstretched leg. The head is raised upward, with the gaze fixed between the eyebrows. After an inhale, the breath should be retained while the practitioner performs mula bandha (root lock). Once the practitioner is comfortable in the position, he/she can exhale and repeat that process for 12 rounds -- though beginners may want to start with three.

The health benefits of practicing mahamudra are immense. It cures indigestion, constipation, piles, spleen enlargement, and is even said to treat leprosy.

The mental benefits of practicing mahamudra include: relieves stress, promotes calmness, promotes the flow of prana, and prepares the mind for meditation.

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