Pose Recipes: Maha Mudra

Maha Mudra is said to be a quintessential yoga asana because it combines the elements of all 5 directional movements of the spine: forward bend, back bend, twist, lateral bend and, of course, axial extension. Therefore we need to include poses for each one of those directions in preparation for Maha Mudra. Done with care, this pose can create an incredible sense of height, depth and spaciousness.

Preparation (Core poses)


Goal pose

MahaMudra200Maha Mudra (Great Seal)

(Axial Extension pose, asymmetrical, closed-frame).

Inhale: Lengthen all along the spine, imagine creating space between the vertebrae. Pull the chest away from the navel while holding on to your foot (ankle or calf). Keep the head in line with the spine.

Exhale: Gradually contract the abdomen and move the shoulders away from the ears while maintaining the length of the spine.


Sprinkles (additional elements)

To emphasize the lengthening of the spine and to deepen the effect of the practice we can add slight hold at the end of the inhalation in some key poses.  When you breathe in the pose Inhale for 6 seconds, hold the breath in for 2 seconds and then Exhale for 6 seconds as a theme throughout the practice.

At the end of the practice it is appropriate to work with Jalandhara bandha-like action during Pranayama.
On the Inhale: Slowly lift the chin up, as if sniffing the air. Then hold the breath in as your tuck the chin in, lengthening through the back of the neck.
On the Exhale: Keep the spine long and relax the shoulders down. Repeat for at least 12 breaths.

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