|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 126 ]
In the Sanskrit language, ashvini means "horse-like." So this technique is known as the "gesture of the horse."
The name derives from the fact that, after expelling faeces, the horse contracts and expands its anus forcefully several times. Ashvini mudra imitates this gesture, forcing the anal sphincter to contract and relax in like fashion.
Ashvini Mudra involves the tightening of the anal sphincter as well as the contraction of the pelvic floor. It brings about an important awareness and strengthening of the muscles in this area.
When trying to feel which muscles are involved in the tightening of the anal sphincter, simply imagine the same sensation that you would feel if trying to resist a strong urge to defecate.
The technique involves two distinct efforts, the first being the contraction of the anal sphincter as a forceful tightening and pulling upward of the surrounding muscles. This is followed by a relaxing of the anal sphincter muscles and a conscious pushing downward of those same muscles.
The best position to learn this mudra is lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
In this position, perform a rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the anus and surrounding muscles of the pelvic floor in unbroken succession, with the minimum duration of three seconds each for the contraction phase and the relaxation phase.
Once you have developed an awareness of the muscles involved, try to practice this in a seated position such as vajra asana, or simple cross-legged sukha asana.
Begin practice with a series of five each (contractions and relaxations) and increase the number and duration as you progress in the practice.
Using Ashvini Mudra
Ashvini mudra can be practiced within several yoga asanas, such as the following tala asana. It can also be applied in garuda asana (to be learned in an later lesson), as well as in many of the sitting postures.
In all these asanas you can also practice the contraction phase of ashvini mudra continuously for up to five minutes (meaning to contract throughout the duration of the asana) with the relaxation or pushing down of the anal sphincter at the end.
This technique is more commonly referred to as mula bandha, "the root lock," which is part of the bandha trayam (the three locks), along with jalandhara bandha,
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
"The Science of Yoga is a course worthy of
leather binding and an honored place in the
finest libraries in the world
... It is indeed a masterful work."
Dr. John Michael Christian
Learn More About
The Science of Yoga Course