Apana Vayu mudra is a powerful mudra for soothing the nervous system and relaxing the body and mind. For this reason, it is extremely beneficial in treating anxiety.
Technique (see image):
Bend your index finger so the tip touches the fleshy part of the base of your thumb. Now bring the middle and ring fingers to touch the tip of your thumb. The little finger remains straight and pointing outward.
Folding the index finger reduces Vayu, the air element, which helps to relieve pain and relax the body and mind. Connection of the thumb, middle and ring fingers increases the fire and earth elements, helping to detoxify and cleanse the body aiding oxygen flow to the heart arteries. Apana Vayu mudra has traditionally been used in the treatment of heart conditions and used to prevent heart attacks.
If you experience anxiety, try the breath and mudra practice below.
A Calming Breath Practice with Apana Vayu Mudra
Step 1: Sit in a comfortable position. Perform Apana Vayu mudra. Take a few breaths. Make your breath natural – no need to alter your breath in any way.
Step 2: Continue breathing, this time bringing awareness to your belly expanding fully on each inhalation. Inhale and exhale to a count of 4.
Step 3: Continue breathing, inhaling to the count of 4 and this time lengthening the exhalation to a count of 6. Bring awareness to the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen as you breathe in and out. Don’t strain if you can’t lengthen the exhale to the count of six, just do what you can.
Step 4: Continue breathing, inhaling to the count of 4, exhaling to the count of 6 this time pausing at the end of the exhale before your next inhalation.
Step 5: Continue breathing, inhaling to the count of 4, this time exhaling to the count of 8 with a slight pause at the end of the exhale. Shorten the exhalation if you need to, don’t strain.
Step 6: Repeat Step 5 this time pausing at the end of the exhalation to the count of 3 before taking your next breath. Again, don’t strain and shorten the pause if you need to.
Practice each round for at least 4 breaths or for as long as is comfortable. At the end of the practice, allow your breath to return to its normal rhythm.
This simple yet effective practice will help to ground excess Vata (Air & Ether elements) and calm and soothe an overstimulated nervous system.