Welcome Back, fellow Yoga enthusiasts!
We are back with a new blog focusing on the Yoga Mudras that expecting mothers may practice for a healthy pregnancy.
What Are Yoga Mudras?
Yoga Mudras are simple hand and finger gestures that stimulate and regulate various physiological functions of the human body. You may perform the Mudras while practicing Yoga postures or meditating when you travel to work, when you are simply relaxing, or even before bedtime. However, Yoga experts recommend that people set apart a dedicated time duration to practice the Mudras for the best results.
Yoga Mudras are vital in opening and aligning the seven major chakras. (CLICK HERE to know more about chakras). Yogic teachings speak about the unseen life force, known as Prana, residing within every cell of the human body. Mudras are potent enough the stimulate Prana to flow through specific tissues and enhance their functions. People often incorporate Mudras with meditation or breathing exercises to augment their benefits.
Mudras have been around since the establishment of various civilizations in the Eastern world. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Christian religious teachings speak of the importance of Mudras. Hindu and Buddhist monks often imbibed different Mudras in their spiritual activities. Ancient Indian dance forms and folk art also used Mudras to depict various emotions and stories.
Why Should Pregnant Women Practice Mudras?
Indian scriptures mention as many as 399 known Mudras used in Yoga, meditation, and art forms for centuries. There are many combinations of hand gestures that form various Mudras. Each Mudra activates the flow of subtle energies in your body in a specific way. Mudras focus on influencing selected physiological functions, and not everyone may practice all of the Mudras. Pregnant women should be careful while practicing Yoga Mudras to avoid health issues.
Five Easy Mudras For Expecting Mothers
Here are the Yoga Mudras that are considered safe during pregnancy. These Mudras benefit the mother’s health and the unborn baby’s growth. Each Mudra is to be performed during certain stages of pregnancy and avoided at all other times till childbirth.
1. Ashwini Mudra
Ashwini is a Sanskrit word having its root in another Sanskrit word Ashwa which means ‘horse.’ It is not your typical hand Mudra but involves using the pelvic and anal muscles instead. It is strictly forbidden to perform Ashwini Mudra during the first trimester of pregnancy. Women who have completed 16 weeks of pregnancy may perform Ashwini Mudra only under the personal guidance and monitoring of a certified Yoga trainer.
To perform the Ashwini Mudra.
- Sit cross-legged in a comfortable position on your chair, the floor, or the couch. You may even sit in Vajrasana if you find it relaxing.
- Place your palms on the thighs or knees and relax your arms.
- Focus on your breathing and settle on a steady and rhythmic breathing cycle that is not too fast.
- Gradually contract your anal sphincter without any sudden or jerky movements.
- Hold the anal muscles in place before relaxing the sphincter. Repeat the cycle a few more times while continuing to breathe normally.
- Pregnant women are advised to continue normal breathing throughout Ashwini Mudra.
The guided practice of Ashwini Mudra strengthens the anal and vaginal muscles, which play a crucial role during childbirth. The Mudra also tones the uterine muscles and prepares them to support the increasing weight of the growing fetus. Ashwini Mudra may play a pivotal role in reducing pelvic soreness and uterine bleeding occurring commonly after childbirth.
2. Vayu Mudra
Earth, Fire, Air/Wind, Water, and Space are the five elements of nature influencing the structural and functional integrity of almost every human organ. Yoga Mudras improve the disturbing dynamics of the five natural elements, thereby resolving various symptoms of ill health. The Vayu Mudra balances the influence of the Air element on the human body and heals respiratory, digestive, and mental health disturbances.
Pregnant women can perform Vayu Mudra safely under a certified Yoga trainer’s guidance.
To perform Vayu Mudra
- Be seated comfortably without keeping your limbs and spine too tight or too lax.
- Rest the back of your palms on your thighs or knees so that your palms face upward.
- Fold both index fingers till they touch the base of the corresponding thumbs. Bend both thumbs firmly over the bottom of your index fingers.
- Stretch out the middle fingers, ring fingers, and index fingers of both your hands without hyperextending them.
It is advisable to close your eyes and continue regular breathing while you perform Vayu Mudra. The Mudra helps relieve symptoms of bloating, indigestion, and loss of appetite during pregnancy. Pregnant women may perform Vayu Mudra to improve any sleep disturbances and anxieties they may be experiencing. Pregnant women can safely practice Vayu Mudra if their Yoga trainer and doctor permit them to do so.
3. Hakini Mudra
The Hakini Mudra derives its name from the Hindu Goddess of power, Hakini Devi. Goddess Hakini represents fertile imagination, positivity, and clarity of thoughts. The Mudra is recommended to pregnant women to curb their anxiety, keep an optimistic mindset, and remain calm throughout their pregnancy and childbirth.
To perform Hakini Mudra
- Seat yourself comfortably in Vajrasana or Sukhasana, and relax your body.
- Close your eyes and focus on regulating your breathing cycle.
- Brings your hands closer such that that palms are facing one another.
- Touch only the tips of the thumbs and fingers of both hands without pressing them very hard.
- You should close your eyes and continue regular breathing throughout the Mudra for the best results.
It is safe to perform the Hakini Mudra for as long as 30 minutes at a stretch. Hakini Mudra is closely associated with the third eye chakra and imbibes immense spiritual powers in its practitioner.
4. Yoni Mudra
The Yoni Mudra is closely associated with the female reproductive system and female fertility. The hand gesture performed during the Yoni Mudra resembles the shape of a uterus. Hindu literature associated the Mudra with Shakti, a powerful and divine representation of Goddess Parvati. According to Hindu teachings, Shakti blesses women with enhanced fertility.
To perform Yoni Mudra
- You may begin Yoni Mudra by sitting on a chair, the floor, or any other flat and firm surface.
- Give yourself some time to relax and regulate your breathing.
- Gradually bring your hands closer in front of your chest, and touch the tips of your index fingers and thumbs. Remember that all your fingers must be pointing towards the ground while performing Yoni Mudra.
- Carefully bend the middle, ring, and little fingers of both your hands so that their backs are touching one another. Avoid spreading the three fingers apart.
- Maintain the Mudra and lower your fingers till they are level with your pelvic area.
Pregnant women may safely practice the Yoni Mudra for as many as three times a day, and as long as five minutes. Yoni Mudra strengthens the uterine muscles to accommodate the growing fetus and bear childbirth pains. Yoni Mudra balances the levels of female hormones during pregnancy and after childbirth.
5. Apana Mudra
Apana Mudra is one of the best Mudras to prepare a pregnant woman’s body for impending childbirth. When practiced correctly, the Mudra generates a pulling force in the downward direction within the human body. The pressure is not painful or uncomfortable but eases the process of giving birth. Women are strictly forbidden to practice the Apana Mudra in the first two trimesters of their pregnancy.
To perform Apana Mudra
- Begin by sitting on the floor in Sukhasana or Vajrasana. Women who find sitting on the floor difficult during pregnancy may sit on a chair or on their bed to perform the Apana Mudra.
- Take some time to regulate your breathing cycle and focus on relaxing your body.
- Bend both thumbs, ring, and middle fingers and bring them closer.
- Keep the ring and middle finger touching each other and touch their tips lightly to the tip of the thumb.
- You may keep your hands resting on your knees, thighs, or at shoulder level while performing the Apana Mudra.
For the best results, Yoga trainers recommend people keep their eyes closed throughout Apana Mudra. Apana Mudra may be performed for up to 15-30 minutes, depending on your comfort and convenience.
Yoga trainers generally advise pregnant women to practice the Apana Mudra when they are very close to full term. It is unsafe to practice the Mudra before completing 32 weeks of gestation. The Apana Mudra strengthens the hip, thigh, and uterus muscles which play a crucial role while giving birth. Pregnant women are advised to practice the Apana Mudra only under the supervision of a certified Yoga teacher.
Dos And Donts
Mudras are seemingly simple hand gestures, but they significantly influence various physiological functions. It is crucial during pregnancy to understand the effects of Mudras on the health of the mother and the unborn baby.
Here are a few things pregnant women should remember while performing Yoga Mudras.
- Do not practice Yoga Mudras without discussing their impact with your Yoga trainer beforehand.
- It is advisable to research Yoga Mudras before you practice them to get acquainted with their benefits for the mind, body, and spirit.
- Pregnant women must discontinue practicing any Mudra that causes them even the slightest discomfort.
- Yoga Mudras that stimulate the female reproductive tract may not be suitable for all the stages of pregnancy.
- Pregnant women may consult with their doctor and a certified Yoga trainer to know which Yoga Mudras are safe to practice during pregnancy.
Mudras are an integral component of Yoga that enrich people’s lives and change them for the better.