One of the ten mudra or seals in Master Swatmarama’s Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Elongates the spine, stretches the back body, generates heat, detoxifies the system.
Intensifies awareness, clears mental congestion.
Subtle Body Benefits
Charges the entire chakra system with pranic energy; one of the most important mudras for pushing prana upward and awakening kundalini.
Enjoy relationships free of obstacles if practice is karmically fuelled by strong intent never to put up walls in your heart, shut people out or block others.
The final progressions of this pose must be learned directly from a qualified teacher. You can do these preliminary steps and modified version to prepare:
Assume Utthanpadasana posture - sit upright on your sitting bones with your left heel in your perineum and your right leg outstretched in front of you. Ideally, your thighs will be parallel with your knees close together. Press out through the heel and ball of the right foot, as you would in Tadasana. If you feel unbalanced, use a prop beneath your seat.
Hinge forward from your hips - imagine that you have a small ball just below your navel, and that you have to fold yourself up and over the ball before you extend forward from the crown of the head. This should induce a spontaneous drawing in of the lower belly - uddiyana bandha. Reach your arms forward and hold your big toe, calf or thighs. Use this bind to draw yourself a bit further forward, always reaching through the crown of the head with the gaze directed in towards the belly.
Once you are in this fold as deeply as is comfortable for you, tip your head back to inhale, then exhale fully and deeply as you reach forward from the crown again. Stay long through the spine.
Spend several breaths here, focusing on lengthening out your exhalations. Imagine that the breath is breathing you on your inhalations, and that the breath is leaving you on your exhalations - as though you were simply an observer of this process.
The final pose involves more difficult mudras and all three bandhas - it is essential to have a teacher for this.
Repeat on the other side; put your right heel into the perineum and extend your left leg.
Tips from Deep Retreat
Mahamudra - The Great Seal - is called that because it uses several sealing mechanisms to draw prana inward and upward and seal it into the central channel - allowing it to do its higher work of raising consciousness and bring states of high realization. This can only happen if all causes and conditions are in place - when we have understood that all human endeavour can be "charged" with an intent that reaches far beyond our own personal agenda and gratification.
It is best to work at Mahamudra progressively and gradually. It involves quite a few different mudras and bandhas and takes time and much practice to perfect. I found that spending plenty of time working on each component of the final pose led to an almost spontaneous ability to move into the final progression.
The first and most important piece is to get comfortable in the physical asana. The heel of the left foot should be in the vagina for women, and in the perineal floor between the anus and the scrotum for men. You should feel perfectly balanced on the two sitting bones. If this is difficult, work on each component of the physical pose to start with - first, rotate your ankles and stretch your feet in all directions. Then practice sitting in Vajrasana - Thunderbolt Pose - with your inner ankle bones and big toes connected, thighs perfectly parallel. Next, spend plenty of time each day in Pashchimottanasana - Seated Forward Fold or Western Stretch - particularly focusing on reaching forward from the heart and through the crown of the head.
Once your body is happy to stay in the physical pose for a while, practice the breathing component on its own in a different physical posture. Try Ujjayi - Victorious Breath - focusing on lengthening out the exhalations, allowing the inhalations to be almost reflexive.
Put the two together - Utthanpadasana with Ujjayi breathing.
The next step would be to start applying the various mudras and bandhas - Khechari Mudra, Shambhavi Mudra, Jalandhara Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Mulabandha. Each of these needs to be perfected individually before putting the entire thing together, and this absolutely requires guidance from a teacher!
Once you have received detailed instructions and have practiced under the direct supervision of a teacher, be sure to practice equally on both sides.
Mahamudra is phenomenal for raising the lower, base energies and successfully utilizing them for spiritual purposes.
This is a very, very powerful mudra - treat it with the respect it deserves, and approach with caution and deference!
Follow this mudra with meditation.
This pose must be learned directly from a qualified teacher! Avoid if menstrual flow is heavy or if pregnant; if blood is impure from toxic lifestyle; if you have high blood pressure or eye disease.