Cleansing Out from Inside 🜃
It is said to be a cleansing energy gesture.
In Sanskrit, Apana refers to the subtle energy in our body that moves downwards and outwards.
I believe women feel it deeply during menstruation.
All of us probably get that Apana rush when we relax our muscles to pee, after desperately needing to go.
Or you know, ever pooped and thought “oh wow, this feels like a religious experience!” because it just felt that damn good to get that shit out of your system?
But yes, in all seriousness,
the flow of Apana helps us release emotions too.
If we assess this mudra with less silliness and more esoteric tradition, this is about expelling stale air from our lungs. By doing so, we also expel impurities from our body.
Working here, with the element of Earth, we are naturally encouraged towards notions of stability and grounding. In the language of hands, Earth is associated with our ring finger. Energetically, when you create a circuit with the ring finger, it allows prana to flow through to better ground yourself.
I like to hold Apana Mudra with my fingers facing down towards the earth for this reason.
It is also worth mentioning that the Sanskrit for Earth is Prithivi. There is even a specific mudra, Prithivi Mudra, that focuses on joining the thumb and the ring finger alone.
This renders the meaning behind the mudra to be about something completely different; nourishing the body.
Our aim is to *purify* the body and mind. The energy we are working with creates a mad purge. Apana Mudra adds the middle finger, not only connecting the elements of Earth and Fire (thumb) as experienced in Prithivi Mudra - but also connecting us with Ether element.
Therefore, we work with outward and downward moving energies that make for an incredible cleansing experience that is plainly, out-of-this-world.
The Goddess Kali Slaying Demons, c. 1700 - 1725, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Are you holding any unnecessary tensions within?
Any lurking demons of the past you wish to eradicate?
Come into your seated pose – or, for this mudra, standing up or laying down on your Yoga mat can also be effective alternatives.
Using one or both hands, bring the tips of your middle and ring fingers to the top of your thumb. (You want this mudra to semi-resemble rock hands).
Extend the index finger and the little finger loosely but firmly. Not too rigid.
Bring your hands to rest on your thighs, or if standing / laying down, bring them to your sides with arms away from the body and your legs slightly apart.
Close your eyes and hold for however long is needed within your meditation practice.
It’s a fairly simple mudra with powerful impact. As you inhale and exhale, I find it can be useful to incorporate pranayama techniques. Personally, I am a huge fan of Simhasana Pranayama aka Lion’s Breath. It also happens to partner well with Apana Mudra.
It truly compliments that external expression of releasing and letting go, forcing the air out of the lungs with a magnificent roaring sigh, releasing tension in our jaw, neck and face, and any stale anger. There is also the added bonus of receiving an energizing confidence boost, instinctive to Leo placement peoples.
If you are more advanced (and/or not pregnant!), Kapalabhati is a terrific purifying breath. Although technically a kriya, Kapalabhati rejuvenates the mind and body. It gets deep into the belly, lungs and diaphragm - targeting the sacral and root chakras, expelling the air and toxins like nobody's business.
As we clear out our subtle body of any clinging baggage, we create space to allow for the quiet stillness of the void to breathe within us. And as deep as that sounds, there is the 'paradoxical' notion within all great schools of philosophy, including the traditions of Yoga and Buddhism that no-thing is no biggie - everything is impermanent and in some sense, we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously.
Let Apana help release all that no longer serves you and flow into your natural state of transformation. Let it wash through and out of you, taking all those yesterdays with it. Everyone can benefit from lightening up a bit.