Maha in Sanskrit means “great” and Maha Mudra means “great seal.” It employs all three bandhas, or energetic “locks”, or “seals”, in order to direct prana, or vital energy, in the body. The three bandhas are Mula Bandha at the level of the first chakra, Muladahara, or “root chakra.” Second is Uddiyana Bandha, at the level of the belly or solar plexus, or Manipurna chakra. Last is Jalandara Bandha, or “chin lock” at the level of Vissudhi chakra, or the “throat chakra.” This is not a practice for beginners. Cultivating this advanced practice of engaging these bandhas is a prelude to a formal sitting meditation.
1. Sit on your mat with your yoga strap nearby. Come into Janu Sirsana A as a preparation for the final pose. Keep your left leg straight, rooting the heel into the mat. Bend your right knee and guide the sole of the foot into the root of the left thigh. Sitting on your hips, extend the arms overhead and loop your yoga strap over the left foot. Holding each end of the strap in each hand, lift the chest.
2. Engage Mula Bandha by lifting the pelvic floor until you feel a small tug at the bottom of the pelvis. Remain for 5 to 8 breaths. Repeat to the second side. Rest. Move into Janu Sirsana B by extending the left leg straight and bending the right knee and lifting the hips, slide your right foot underneath you, so the sole of the foot faces the ceiling.
3. Place the right heel under you so that it presses on the area between the perineum and the genitals. Set your hips down on top of the foot and loop your yoga strap over the left foot as before. Engage Mula Bandha and remain for 5 to 8 breaths. Repeat to the second side.
4. Sit in Sukhasana, or Easy Pose, by sitting in a comfortable, cross-legged seated position. You will now engage all three energetic locks before moving into the final pose. Place your palms on your legs. Lift the pelvic floor and now inhale and hollow out the belly and gently draw the belly completely flat against the spine.
5. Lift the head and draw the chin in towards the throat as if you were lifting up the inner corners of each ear. The belly is in Uddiyana Bandha and the lift of the head is in Jalandara Bandha. Remain for 5 to 8 breaths. Exhale slowly and release all three bandhas.
6. Moving into the Maha Mudra, come into Janu Sirsana B, with one leg extended straight and the other foot placed under the body, so the heel is pressing in the area between the perineum and the genitals. Loop your belt around the foot of the extended leg. Inhale and engage Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Jalandara Bandha. Softly hold the breath for a count of four, exhale through the nose for a count of four and hold out the breath for a count of four. Inhale slowly and take several recovery breaths. Repeat to the other side. Rest.