Maha Mudra or the Great Gesture is the first Mudra mentioned in both Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and Gheranda Samhita. In Sanskrit, Maha means great and Mudra means a gesture, attitude or seal. Maha Mudra is a technique to raise the human consciousness to higher levels and for improving health. It is highly recommended by yogis.
Maha Mudra is best done in the morning when the stomach is empty. It creates a good ambience for meditation practices, hence should be done before the start of meditation.
Those suffering from hypertension and heart complaints should avoid this mudra as holding of breath is involved. Also, it is good to do the purification of the body through Shatkarmas before taking with the practice of Mudras.
How to do Maha Mudra (The Great Gesture)?
- Sit on the floor with legs stretched out. Fold the left leg and press the perineum with the left heel.
- The right leg remains stretched out in front throughout the practice.
- Bend forward and hold the big toe of the right leg with the hands. Exhale while bending forward.
- Raise the head slightly upwards and let the gaze be on the eyebrow center. Inhale slowly and deeply while tilting the head.
- Hold the breath inside and perform Moola Bandha.
- Contract the throat so that air does not escape from the lungs.
- Maintain this position with breath inside (Antar Kumbhaka) for as long as you are comfortable.
- This is one round. One can practice from 3 rounds to 12 rounds depending on time and convenience.
- To release the pose, exhale slowly and bring the head to normal position. Stretch out the legs, relax the body and breathe normally.
- The attention is maintained at the eye-brow center throughout the practice. There is also a variation of the practice where the attention is rotated between the Mooladhara, the Vishuddhi Chakra and the Ajna Chakra.
Benefits of Maha Mudra (The Great Gesture)
- Maha Mudra gives physical and spiritual benefits. It improves digestion and cures the disorders of the stomach.
- The Hatha Yoga Pradeepika says that Maha Mudra removes consumption, leprosy, colic and diseases caused due to indigestion.
- It further says that Maha Mudra can neutralize the effect of toxins in the body.
- The Gheranda Samhita says that Maha Mudra removes Kapha disorders, tuberculosis, constipation, enlarged spleen, prolonged fever and other diseases and the body attains good health.
- The Hatha Yoga Pradeepika also says that it is a giver of siddhis or supernatural powers to the practitioner and hence should be kept a secret.
- It balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. It generates peace. The sensory excitements are reduced, thus inducing a tranquil state of mind.
- This practice makes the spine straight and enables the pranic energy to clearly go between Mooladhara and the Vishuddhi chakra. The body gets charged with pranic energy. Since the throat is also contracted during the practice of holding the breath, the Prana gets pushed down towards Apana and the two merge at the Navel center or Manipuraka Chakra. This awakens the Prana Shakti.
- Since this mudra is done along with eye brow gazing or Shambhavi Mudra, it calms down the mind. Hence it is an excellent practice before the start of meditation.
- When Prana Shakti is awakened, the activity of Ida and Pingala Nadis subside. In the process, the Sushumna Nadi, the central channel gets activated.
Awakening of the Sushumna Nadi is important for success in meditation. The Hatha Yoga Pradeepika says that “Maha Mudra removes all afflictions and the cause of death”. Also anything can be consumed and the practitioner gets the ability to digest it. Maha Mudra is called the great gesture by the yogis, because of its importance as it helps one to experience the higher states of consciousness in meditation.