Apana is the Sanskrit word for exhalation or the life force that flows down. This is because it is the opposite of Prana.
Apana mudra, also known as the purification mudra, is a hand gesture that detoxifies and purifies the body and balances the elements of space and earth within it. One of the classic yoga texts, the Gheranda Samhita, refers to Apana Mudra as the mudra of digestion, but this isn't simply in reference to physical bowel movements. Apana Mudra is also useful when we want to stimulate our mental "digestive system." If, for example, you find your mind to be particularly chatty during your meditation practice, you might need to do a bit of a spring cleaning before you can find stillness and this Mudra encourages that process.
Apana mudra increases the vata and kapha doshas in the body and decreases the pitta, thus helping to balance the three doshas in the human body. It is best to practice this mudra in the mornings. People with vata and kapha constitution should practice this mudra in moderation.
To do this gesture, bring your second and third fingers to your thumb. The way you position your fingers may differ depending on the discipline you are learning from. Some say that you should rest the two fingers just slightly behind the tip of the thumb, but in many depictions, this Mudra is demonstrated by bringing the middle and ring finger to the tip of the thumb. The back of the hand can then be rested on the thigh or knee, where your arms can feel relaxed.
Elements: Space, Fire and Water.
Illustration © estudio mosa 2017