Mana Mudras

Shanmukhi mudra

Shan means six and mukhi means face or gate. This mudra involves closing the six gates of perception - the ears, eyes, and nostrils.

How to perform: Bring the hands in front of the face with the elbows in line with the shoulders. Close the ears with the thumbs, either inserting the thumbs into the ears or simply pressing the tragi (prominence at the entrance to the ears). Close the eyes and gently press the eyeballs with the index and middle fingers. Inhale slowly and deeply and at the end of inhalation close the nostrils with the tips of the ring fingers. Retain the breath as long as comfortable applying equal pressure to the ears, eyes and nostril on both sides. After some time, release the pressure of the middle fingers and slowly breathe out. Take a few slow deep breaths, and when you are ready repeat the breath retention again. Make sure that holding your breath in doesn’t give you any unpleasant sensations. It is possible to practice this mudra without breath retention (eg. during menstruation or pregnancy) by keeping ring fingers at the nostrils but without closing them. Listen to the silence or inner sounds. Look at the darkness or any lights, colours, patterns that you might see with your eyes closed. Practice 5-10 minutes or as long as comfortable, then remove the fingers from the nostrils and eyes and the thumbs from the ears, lowering your arms. If not proceeding with meditation, keep the eyes closed for a minute or two, then open them with a few blinks.

Benefits: This practice calms the brain and the nervous system and can be helpful as prevention and reduction of anxiety, irritation or anger. It relaxes and rejuvenates the eyes and the facial nerves and tissues. The senses are drawn inwards, which induces the state of pratyahara, therefore it naturally leads into meditation.

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