Monsoon will soon be upon us and so will the season of gastric ailments. Our ability to naturally metabolise foods drops during this weather while our appetite to eat fried and spicy foods increases. In Ayurveda, it is said that good health doesn’t come just from what you eat but what you digest. Regular readers of this column may recollect the Agni (Fire) mudra, and how its practice can help with our digestion. This article focuses on a second mudra through which we can achieve optimal assimilation of the nourishment that we take into our bodies.
Pushan mudra is a hand gesture or ‘seal’, used in yoga primarily for improving digestion and nourishment. The word Pushan is representative of the Hindu vedic solar deity. He is the god of meeting and in astral governance, holds the portfolio for marriages, journeys, roads, transition and nourishment. He is also a guide for the souls helping their after-life journey to the other world.
In Sanskrit, since Pushan stands for ‘the one who nourishes’, the mudra by this name is used to symbolically denote the stoking of the digestive fire or as the gesture of digestion. Its practice helps the removal of toxins from the body, improve elimination and stimulate the gallbladder, liver and stomach.
While this is not a suggestion to ignore any medical treatment, use this mudra to complement medicines taken for gastric ailments including flatulence, nausea and the after-effects of a heavy meal. Unlike other mudras, where both hands mirror the gesture, the fingers of the right hand create a receptive position whereas those of the left hand create an eliminating position.
Formation of pranic mudra by right hand and of another pranic mudra by left hand makes it a powerful mudra, combining the effects of both simultaneously.
Steps to follow
Left hand: Touch the tip of the thumb to the tips of the middle and ring fingers (like Apaan Mudra). Then extend the little and index fingers straight out. This will help reduce bloating, gas and constipation.
Right hand: Touch the tip of the thumb to the tips of the index and middle fingers (like Vyana Mudra). Then extend the little and ring fingers straight out. This will help curb belching and acid reflux.
Gently place the backs of the hands onto the thighs or knees.
Sit in an upright cross-legged position. If needed, support your hips up as much as needed (using a cushion). If still not comfortable, rest your back against the wall.
Hold the mudra and take several deep breaths to slow the mind down and become aware of the body. Focus on what’s happening around the navel as you breathe.
Increase pressure from the fingertips on the thumb while you inhale and release the pressure a bit on exhalation for a relaxing effect.
Allow each breath to flow into the belly and soften the area around the navel and below the diaphragm, that is, the seat of the solar plexus.
Continue to breathe consciously, visualising anything that feels stagnant or undigested in your body and mind dissolving with the gentle fire that glows through the belly.
When you begin to feel completely nourished, slowly release the mudra. Take a moment to feel the energy cultivated and thank yourself for taking time to honor your vitality.
Best time to practice the mudra is after a heavy meal. Normally, three to five minutes should be ideal for those who are short on time.
(There are over 350 health problems that can be prevented/cured with mudras. To know more visit www.artofselfhealing.in)