Tadagi Mudra in Yoga - Steps, Benefits & Contraindications
By Vineet Kaul | Reviewed by Sonja Junková
Here we explain the steps and benefits of Tadagi Mudra.
Learn about how to prepare for this yoga body gesture.
An easy and difficult variation for yogis of all skill levels.
See also, how to do Manduki Mudra (Frog Gesture).
Tadagi Mudra is a powerful yoga technique with many health benefits. But this ancient practice, which is called a kaya mudra or yogic body gesture is rarely taught in modern yoga. Kaya mudra is one of the five types of yoga mudras, the other four being - hasta mudra (hand), mana mudra (head), adhara mudra (pelvic), and bandha (body lock).
Tadagi is also known as the Pond Gesture or Gesture of the Lake, and most commonly called the Barreled Abdomen Technique in English. It targets the digestive fire, Samana Vayu, and Solar Plexus or Manipura Chakra – three things that play a crucial role in energy absorption and circulation. It also tones the muscles and organs in the pelvic floor and abdomen.
“Tadagi Mudra is an intermediate yoga practice with a breath retention component. Attempt it after a few months of asana and pranayama, only after you learn the parts of the breath cycle, breath suspension, and the three primary bandhas.” says Sonja, a Vinyasa yoga instructor.
“You can use Tadagi by itself, as a standalone practice, to improve digestion and energy levels or as a transitional pose in asana routine. Beginners can attempt an easy variation called Sulabh Tadagi Mudra and experienced yogis can practice Tadagi with Uddiyana Bandha,” she adds.
In this article, we discuss the steps, benefits, precautions, and variations of Tadagi mudra.
What is Tadagi Mudra
Tadagi (तडाग) is the Sanskrit word for an artificial pond or reservoir and mudra (मुद्रा) is Sanskrit for seal or gesture. When put together, Tadagi Mudra refers to a seated yoga forward bend that involves sucking the stomach. The stomach has a concave shape that resembles an artificial pond, which is how this practice gets the name Tadagi Mudra.
Note that this is an intermediate practice categorized as a kaya mudra (body gesture). Yoga-novices should prepare the body for Tadagi with the following yoga poses before attempting it –
Dandasana (Staff Pose)
Ardha Uttansana (Half Forward Bend)
Ardha Halasana (Half Plow Pose)
Uttanpadasana (Raised Leg Pose)
Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose)
Parsvottanasana (Side Stretch Pose)
Paschimottasana (Seated Forward Fold)
One you have the flexibility, practice Viloma and Pratiloma pranayama because there is a long pause between exhalation and inhalation in the Tadagi gesture. So, ensure you can hold the breath for 10 to 15 seconds before attempting this kaya mudra.
Here are the steps to practice Tadagi Mudra and attain the benefits of this yoga practice.
Step One: Prepare
The base pose for Tadagi mudra is Dandasana or Staff Pose. Roll out your mat and sit in the starting position with the feet slightly apart. Take a few minutes to compose yourself with slow, deep breathing. Close your eyes and relax your body, particularly the neck, jaw, and abdomen.
Step Two: Enter
Bend your upper body using the hips and lean forward with your arms extended in front of you. Grab your toes with the thumb and fingers. Look forward and don’t lower your gaze to the floor. Take a deep breath allowing the belly to expand fully. Empty the lungs completely and begin.
Step Three: Create the Pond
Here you are holding the breath for the entire step. Push the diaphragm or ribcage out as you suspend the breath (bahya kumbhaka). It will cause the stomach to cave in. Keep your awareness on the ‘pond’ of the abdomen. Keep this hold for as long as you can without strain.
Pro Tip: You can mentally chant ‘Ram’ – the seed (bija) mantra for the Manipura Chakra.
Step Four: Release
To get out of Tadagi, relax the abdomen, release the grip on the toes, and release the chin-to-chest lock. Slowly return to starting position (Dandasana) as you inhale. You have completed one round of Tadagi Mudra. You can stay in the base pose or attempt another round.
Time and Duration
Tadagi Mudra should be performed on an empty stomach early morning or three hours after the last meal. Beginners can attempt three rounds in one session and gradually progress to five rounds. Increase the duration of breath retention to 15 seconds before you add another round.
Variations and Modifications
There are more than two variations to practice Tadagi Mudra. Here we mention the two most common variations of Tadagi used by yogis. The first variation is ideal for beginners and the second should only be attempted after mastery over the basic practice and yoga bandhas.
Sulabh Tadagi Mudra
Beginners can attempt an easy version called Sulabh Tadagi Mudra, which is essentially the same practice but performed in a supine pose i.e., lying on your back. To do this, get into Corpse Pose (Savasana), fold your knees until they touch the buttocks, and close your eyes. Place your left hand on your abdomen and form the Vishnu mudra with your right hand.
Empty the lungs completely with a hearty exhale. Do not inhale again. Pinch the nostrils shut with your right hand (Vishnu mudra). Gentle push your diaphragm out, which will cause the stomach to cave in. Do this for as long as you are comfortable (as per your current capacity).
To get out of Tadagi mudra, open the nostrils, release the stomach, and inhale gentle. Stay in Corpse Pose and breathe slowly for a minute. You completed one round and can attempt 3 rounds. Gradually increase the rounds when you can hold the breath for 15 to 20 seconds.
You can also tweak the difficulty level by attempting this in Ardha Halsana (Half Plow Pose).
Tadagi Mudra with Uddiyana Bandha
Tadagi mudra has a lot of overlap with Uddiyana bandha, another yoga technique that massages the abdominal organs and strengthens digestion. Therefore, you can modify your practice by adding Uddiyana bandha during the breath suspension part of this practice. By doing so, you can attain additional benefits as both practices strengthen digestion and tone the core muscles.
Tadagi mudra delays aging and relaxes tense muscles and tissues.
It balances Samana Vayu, improves appetite, and cures digestive disorders.
Tadagi Mudra also strengthens the diaphragm and respiratory system.
It tones the core and helps with weight loss.
Tadagi Mudra stimulates the Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra.
It massages the abdominal organs and tones muscles in the pelvic floor.
Safety and Precautions
Tadagi Mudra is contraindicated in pregnancy, menstruation, hernia, prolapse, cardiovascular issues, and high blood pressure. People suffering from chronic hip or leg pain, or those recovering from injury or surgery, should not practice Tadagi Mudra. Consult a yoga expert or physician if you have any other chronic health conditions before trying this yoga practice.
Difference between Tadagi Mudra and Paschimottasana
This body gesture looks like a seated forward bend used in yoga – Paschimottanasana. But the difference is you don’t go into a full forward fold in Tadagi mudra. You grab the toes and lean forward instead of lowering the forehead to the knees as you would in Paschimottanasana.
Secondly, Tadagi Mudra is not a yoga pose but a body gesture or kaya mudra – a yoga asana with a specific intention, breathing pattern, and point of awareness. Here, the focus is on molding the abdomen into the shape of a barrel and bringing awareness to the Manipura or navel region.
We hope this article explains how to do Tadagi mudra to deepen your practice. There are four other yoga body gestures – Viparita Karani, Manduki Mudra, Pashinee Mudra, and Yogamudra Asana. We have outlined the steps, benefits, and precautions for each in separate posts.
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