Ashwini Mudra Meaning
Before we talk about the ashwini mudra practice, lets define its meaning. Ashwa means “horse” in Sanskrit, and mudra is a “gesture” or “sign” but this doesn’t say much about what ashwini (asvini, ashvini) mudra is. The real meaning of it lies in its definition: the practice of a rhythmic contraction of anal sphincter, which allows directing the prana (apana) flow upward the spine through the main energy channel called sushumna. In yoga ashwini mudra is a beginners technique, which means it’s relatively easy, and precedes some other techniques such as mula bandha or vajroli mudra.
Mudras are used along with bandhas to enhance the practice of yoga.
The basic technique for the mudra is pretty simple, but it nevertheless is powerful and makes the mudra one of the essential parts of many internal yoga practices, such as mula bandha or viparita karani mudra; it is not uncommon to see practice of ashwini mudra and vajroli mudra done together. The very similar technique is used in Qigong – Iron Shirt to fill the internal organs with prana to make them healthier and more resistant to the external influences and damages.
How to Do Ashwini Mudra
First of all you need to take an asana or yoga pose. While the best pose for such practices is considered to be the lotus pose or padmasana, you can also do well with some simpler poses. For example, it can be siddhasana or vajrasana; you can even use sukhasana as an ashwini mudra asana.
Once you got into the posture, relax for a minute, breathing freely and deeply. Then inhale fully (especially filling the lower part of the lungs), hold your breath, and contract the anal sphincter muscles with a 1-2 seconds interval. For men there should be 4 contractions, and for women – 5. This is due to the differences between men and women physiology. These numbers designate the average quantity of anal muscles contractions required to push the prana from the pelvis to the head. Try to completely relax the anal muscles between the contractions.
Why you need doing this and what benefits you can get from this horse pose, I’ll describe later. Now we’ll be talking more on ashwini mudra breath and other details.
OK, you are holding your breath, and have made the required number of contractions; now, press your chin against the bottom of the neck, touch the palate with the tip of your tongue and start releasing your breathe (exhaling), then release the mudra, and after that slowly raise your head. The success in this practice comes when your feel like shivering wave goes through your body. This wave is actually the prana which has been stimulated by your practice. You can repeat it 3-5 times or as much as you want – just don’t overstress yourself, as the balance is the key to success in everything.
Ashwini Mudra Benefits
How important ashwini mudra in yoga? How can you benefit from it?
The mudra works both externally and internally, or, in other words, on the level of the physical body and on the energy level.
In a physical plane the asana stimulates the abdomen and pelvis area including reproductive and digestive organs. This simple practice can help you get rid of constipation, deals with diseases of the rectum and hemorrhoids, and can improve your sexual health. Since it stimulates the prana flow toward the upper part of the body, it slows down the aging process and improves the health in general. It also makes your body more resistant to diseases if you practice this yoga mudra regularly.
On a more subtle level, it increases the awareness, makes your mind more peaceful, gives more energy, and can even improve your mood.
If you are thinking about doing ashwini mudra during pregnancy, then it is possible to some extent, but I cannot give you a clear advice here, since it may require the personal attendance and a conclusion of your doctor on your current condition.
Anyway, the practice of ashvini yoga mudra is simple, safe and very effective so there is no reason why you cannot do it or start learning this wonderful yoga technique.