Definition - What does Ashwini Mudra mean?
Ashwini mudra is a tantric practice used to generate and move prana (life force energy) upward along the spine, via the main energy channel of the subtle body known as sushumna nadi. The practice involves contracting the anal sphincter in a rhythmic way, thereby generating and containing intense energy within the lower body before pumping it upwards.
Ashwini mudra is often practiced in a comfortable seated posture such as padmasana (lotus pose), siddhasana (accomplished pose), sukhasana (easy pose) or vajrasana (thunderbolt pose), although it can also be practiced in an inversion, such as salamba sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand) with the knees bent and dropped forward.
To practice ashwini mudra from a seated asana, it is important to first close the eyes and find stability within the body and mind through awareness of the breath. Take a deep and steady inhalation, hold the breath, then slowly contract and relax the sphincter muscles before dropping the chin and exhaling. Men should do up to four contractions, whereas women can do up to five.
Ashwini mudra should be performed smoothly and rhythmically in a relaxed manner, maintaining focus on the anal sphincter so as not to bring unnecessary tension to any other area of the body. Advanced practitioners may also include jalandhar bandha (chin lock) during the breath retention.
Yogapedia explains Ashwini Mudra
The name, ashwini mudra is derived from two Sanskrit roots; ashwa, meaning “horse,” and mudra, meaning “gesture” or “seal.” The practice is so-called due to the resemblance between the anal contraction and the movement of a horse’s sphincter after emptying its bowels. Since ashwini mudra is a relatively straightforward practice with no contraindications, it may be performed by beginners. However, it should not be confused with mula bandha (root lock), and so an understanding of the difference between the two is important.
Ashwini mudra has many physical, emotional and spiritual benefits, including:
- Stimulates the digestive organs and eases constipation
- Eases hemorrhoids
- Builds resistance to disease and slows aging
- Tones pelvic muscles
- Strengthens the uterine muscles
- Improves sexual health
- Calms the mind
- Boosts mood
- Increases awareness and energy
Regular practice will help to strengthen the pelvic and rectal muscles, in addition to the visceral muscles of the intestines. Ashwini mudra is one of the most important practices for women in preparation for childbirth, helping to ease the pain of delivery.
In addition to the physical benefits, ashwini mudra is believed to have many spiritual benefits. In directing an upward flow of prana known as apana, the sushumna nadi is activated and stimulated, in turn relieving energetic blockages and guiding the practitioner towards higher states of consciousness.
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