Udana Vayu Mudra is a yogic hand gesture to balance Udana Vayu, one of the five sub currents of the vital breath (prana). The vital breath is divided into (what we call) the five life-winds - Prana, Apana, Vyana, Samana, and Udana Vayu.
They are an integral part of the human anatomy in yoga and Ayurveda. Each life-wind (Vayu) has specific biological and psycho-physiological attributes, which can be strengthened or balanced with a yoga mudra (hand gesture) or other yogic practices.
Other names for Udana Vayu Mudra include Hansi Mudra, Udaan Mudra, and Laughter Mudra. This post details how to use it, its benefits, and other yoga techniques that go hand in hand.
Definition: Udana Vayu Mudra
Udana Vayu Mudra is a yoga mudra (hand gesture) to enhance the upward movement of prana-flow in the throat region and chest cavity. In Ayurveda, the Udana mudra is used as a therapeutic technique to improve respiratory function, speech/communication, and the functioning of the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
Udana Vayu is located in the throat region and chest cavity. It is associated with the ether/space element and Vishuddhi (Throat) Chakra. Udana maintains the proper functioning of the organs and glands in the upper chest and throat region.
Role and Function
Biologically speaking, Udana Vayu governs speech, self-expression, swallowing, metabolism, and the thyroid and parathyroid glands. In Ayurveda, Udana vata is one of the five components of Vata Dosha (an imbalance in three body humors). Udana Vayu mudra uses a specific finger combination to alter the flow of prana to treat any imbalances in the upper chest region.
Udana Vayu Imbalance
Poor breathing, incorrect breathing habits, or constant exposure to bad conditions (i.e. pollution) can lead to sub-optimal Udana Vayu. It affects a person's respiratory function, focus, and ability to communicate or express themselves.
Imbalanced Udana manifests as breathing problems, throat issues such as hoarseness, intellectual debility such as forgetfulness, and feeling dejected or meaningless. It is also said to diminish an individual’s sense of purpose and self-esteem.
How to form Udana Vayu Mudra
Take a few deep breaths to relax the mind.
Place both hands on the knees or thighs with palms facing the sky.
Bring the tips of your index, middle, and ring fingers to touch the tip of the thumb.
Apply gentle pressure. Keep the little finger as straight as possible without creating strain.
This configuration of the hand is called Udana Vayu Mudra.
You can close your eyes and focus your awareness on the breath, the tip of your nose, or the pit of your throat (Vishuddhi Chakra). To conclude your practice, empty your lungs with a full exhale and release the fingers. Remain seated and breathe normally for a minute or two.
Duration: Practice Udana Vayu Mudra with both hands for 10 to 45 minutes each day. Alternatively, you can do it in three 15-minute sessions per day. If you are using yoga mudras for healing, check the general guidelines for using hand gestures.
Yogic hand gestures like Udana Vayu mudra are beneficial when used in combination with a good diet, healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, and proper sleep. They can be used as a supplementary practice but not as a replacement for medicine or ongoing treatment.
Udana Vayu Mudra Benefits
Udana Vayu mudra improves prana-flow in the chest cavity, throat, and brain.
Long-term use is said to enhance creativity, boost memory, and mental clarity.
This hand gesture has a positive influence on the vocal cords and glands in the throat.
It can be beneficial for singers and may alleviate the symptoms of respiratory problems.
Udana Vayu mudra is used in Ayurveda to improve thyroid and parathyroid function.
It pacifies vata dosha (as per Ayurveda) and improves thyroid and parathyroid function.
Mudras are safe to practice for the most part. Learn the proper guidelines for hand mudras before you use them as a healing modality. Udana is inherently excessive in individuals with Vata Dosha (as per Ayurveda), in which case it would not be wise to practice this mudra. That being said, we do not advise using this or any other mudra to replace medical treatment.
In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Udana Vayu is categorized as one of the ten parts that make up prana. It plays an important role in connecting the lower and higher self. Udana is the bridge one must cross to access the upper levels of awareness and consciousness.
In yoga, Udana Vayu mudra is not used for health or healing as one would in the Ayurvedic context. Yogis can use this mudra during meditation for focus and spiritual growth. Balancing it clears blockages in the throat chakra. This allows Kundalini energy to ascend to the Ajna chakra.
Yogis struggling with inspiration, clarity, or self-expression can perform inverted asanas and practice udana vayu mudra to deepen their practice. It will prepare them for long meditation sessions and ameliorate confusion and distractions.
Conclude your practice with 10 minutes of Prana Mudra. Alternatively, you can settle in any seated meditation pose or Corpse Pose (Savasana) for ten minutes and perform ‘So-ham’ meditation with the mind focused on the breath or the throat chakra.
You can strengthen and balance Udana Vayu using the following yoga poses:
Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana
Shoulder Stand - Sarvangasana
Legs against the wall – Viparita Karani
Fish Pose – Matsyasana
Other inverted poses that promote blood flow to the upper body
You can combine Udana Vayu mudra with three-part breathing and/or chanting the one-syllable mantra ‘ham’ out loud. HAM is the bija (seed) mantra for the Throat Chakra. You can also do Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breathing) after your session to supplement your practice.