अवश्यायतमोनद्धा नीहारतमसा ऽवृता।
प्रुप्ता इव लक्ष्यन्ते विपुष्पा वनराजयः॥
The expanses of forest seem fast asleep, wrapped up in the darkness of hoarfrost, blanketed by the darkness of snow, with not a blossom open.
Winter in the subcontinent is divided into two seasons - Hemanta rtu (pre-winter) and Shishir rtu (deep winter). With the onset of Hemanta rtu the winter mist descends upon the subcontinent and intensifies during Shishir rtu. The Sun starts to resemble the Moon as it gets paler behind the mist everyday. People move indoors and animals hibernate as the season of darkness takes over. Only the vibrancy of flowers such as the Flame of the Forest invokes the colour and warmth of the Sun now. Winter is a season of quiet reflections when the body and mind seek warmth in different forms.
When discussing the ritucharya (seasonal regimen) of Hemanta and Shishir rtu, Ayurveda cautions us about the accumulation of Kapha, one of the three doshas. This accumulation can lead to chest and throat congestion, colds and headaches – common experiences for many of us during the winters. Including warm, heavy foods (such as Sesame and Jaggery) in our diet is recommended to keep our bodies warm. However, dietary changes should also be bolstered by similar lifestyle changes. For example, exercising during this season is recommended. Yoga hand mudras or hand gestures can also be utilised and made part of our daily Yoga practice to ease the flow of energy in our body. These mudras stimulate different parts of the body in order to ease congestion, headaches and colds during Hemanta and Shishir rtu.
Linga Mudra: Linga mudra activates the fire element of the thumb of our hand which helps warm the body from within. This mudra also increases our energy levels, especially during the winter season. Associated with Lord Shiva, this mudra gets its name from Shiva’s phallus-like symbol - the Shiva Linga - which is represented by the upright thumb in the mudra. To practice this mudra, join your hands in a namaste pose. Then interlock your fingers so your hands are now clasped together. Let one thumb (of any hand) stay upright. Then encircle the upright thumb with the thumb and the index finger of the other hand. You can practice this mudra for 15 minutes three times a day.
Linga mudra helps warm the body from within
Bhairava Mudra: Dhanipragada Prakash Rao, a Telugu yoga teacher and an expert in Mudra therapy, refers to Bhairava mudra as the mudra associated with Lord Shiva. It should be practiced during winter or monsoon mornings and should not be practiced during the summer season. It generates intense heat in the body and hence, people who live in warmer regions should also not practice it regularly. Keep both your hands straight with all your fingers joined together. In a seated posture place your left hand, with the palm facing upwards, just below your belly button. Rest the back of the left hand on your thigh. Place the right hand, with the palm facing upwards, gently above the left hand. Keep your eyes closed. As this mudra generates heat in the body it also improves blood circulation and regulates breathing. This mudra can be practiced for upto 20 minutes in regions with extreme, cold weather. In regions which experience mild winters, this mudra can be practiced for 3-5 minutes, if needed.
Bhairava mudra improves blood circulation and regulates breathing
Shankh Mudra: Use the four fingers of your right hand to encircle the thumb of your left hand. Now touch the thumb of your right hand to the tip of the fingers of your left hand. Your hands should now look similar to a conch shell. The conch shell is widely used across temples during rituals and prayers. This is a mudra that helps clear all congestion from your throat and relieve you of any throat problems. Reciting OM before and during this mudra also helps clear your throat and improve your voice. This mudra can be practiced as needed or for 15 minutes thrice a day.
Shankh mudra helps clear all congestion from throat