In this guide we’ll ve looking at Apan mudra or Apana Mudra, a hasta mudra (hand gesture) in yoga.
You can use this mudra for detoxification because it stimulates the flow of Apana Vata, the second of five pranas, situated between the naval and perineum (area between anus and scrotum).
Apana Vata is responsible for elimination, such as the elimination of toxins. Because of this, most of the benefits of Apan mudra are for the large intestines, urinary system, and reproductive system.
You probably already realise the importance of detoxifying. It reduces toxins in the body that are a primary cause of illness. For example, cancer.
Columbia University research shows that 95% of cancer is caused by toxins. Given that the average person has between 400 and 800 chemicals in their body, clearing them out is vital.
That’s why Apan mudra is so beneficial.
Apan Mudra Steps
You might like to read my guide to mudras for beginners before you start.
- Sit in one of the proper meditation positions (Sukhasana, Padmasana & Siddhasana). Make sure that you sit with good posture and a straight spine. Your knees should not be locked.
- Gently close your eyes and begin to breathe through your nose. Take a few relaxing breaths to calm the mind and to concentrate.
- Curl your middle-finger and ring-finger inwards towards the palm and place the tips of these fingers on the tip of your thumb. The thumb should be lightly curled inward.
- The rest of your fingers should be held straight but relaxed.
- With both of your hands in the position described above, place your hands over your kneecap with the palms facing up.
- Maintain this position while you meditate.
Many people like to practise in the morning or after eating to aid digestion. I recommend practising it for around 20 minutes per day.
Scientific research shows that we can get the benefits by using it for at least 20 minutes. Less than 5 minutes was not sufficient, but 20 minutes was plenty. [Kotikalapudi Shiva Kumar et. al at the Department of Bioenergy, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana.]
Spiritually speaking, when we use the gesture, we balance the root chakra (mūlādhāra). And this helps with grounding and awakening Kundalini energy. [read: Kundalini Meditation Technique].
Hindu mythology states that Apana mudra is a way of offering naivedyam (food) to the gods.
Importantly, the gesture unites the physical, pranic, and mental bodies by linking the koshas (annamaya kosha, pranamaya kosha, and manomaya kosha).
- Detoxifying the body.
- Strengthens internal organs.
- Helps regulate urine
- Aids perspiration
- If you’re feeling constipated, you can use it for that too.
- Reduces anger
- Balances doshas
- Improves dental health
- Can prevent vomiting because it regulates digestion and helps the digestive system to relax.
- Strengthens digestion
- Improves eyesight
- Improves hearing
- Balances vayus
- Balances pachaka pitta, udana vata, and avalambaka kapha
- Helps treat menstrual problems.
- Helps with eyes, mouth, ears and nose problems.
Influences the elements
Yogic lifestyle expert and holistic health specialist Rima J Pundir says that the hand gesture releases karmic energy in the hands. The fingers are like plugs that help exchange energy between our pranic force (life energy) and the universal cosmic energy.
Thus, when we use hand gestures, we influence our pranic energy. In turn, this creates emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. (SOURCE)
To understand how Apana mudra works, we need to take a look at the role of the fingers and thumb.
It works based on your fingers and thumb
- Thumb – Energy of Fire
- Index Finger – Energy of Air
- Middle Finger – Ether energy
- Ring Finger – Earth energy
- Little Finger – Water energy
When we position our fingers and thumbs in a yoga hand gesture, it creates a loop that allows chi / prana in the hands to be sustained and moulded. It stimulates the heart and ether elements for detoxification.
Apan mudra detoxifies because it connects the fire element of the thumb to the earth and ether elements of the ring-finger and middle-finger. The fire element balances the earth and ether, which flushes toxin from the body.
It promotes the wood element and creates energy in the gallbladder and liver.
In Chinese philosophy, the wood element (Xu Xing) is the most yang of the five elements. It corresponds with spring and the planet Jupiter.
The wood element creates strength and flexibility. When the wood element is strong it promotes warm feelings, idealism, and cooperation. Plus, it makes us more social and expansive. Finally, it benefits the gallbladder and liver.
We’ve now looked at the procedure and the benefits. However, be aware of the following cautions for apana mudra. Side effects are real.
- It creates a strong pulling force that pulls downward. Therefore, if you are pregnant, do not practice in the first 8 months of term because in some instances it could cause a miscarriage. However, you can practice once you are in the ninth month of pregnancy. Then, you will find it beneficial for childbirth.
- If you have cholera, colitis, diarrhea, or dysentery do not practise this mudra.
- It should be avoided after meals for a minimum of two hours.
- Apana mudra for diabetes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6145966/
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison