A Modified Janu B Turns it Into: The Great Attitude

In a day filled with symbolism -Earth Day / Jesus crucified cause he saw things as they were- I thought of the depth and meaning of one of the poses some of us practice daily, Janu B, and how, if modified just a tiny bit, it becomes a lot more than an asana.

On its second side, it turns into: "The Mahamudra" or "Great Attitude".  One of the wise books of old says that it cures "consumption"...  Wonder if Earth Day could use some of that.

The Gheranda Samhitha has this to say about how to get into it:
I know, is the left heel for the
Mahamudra, this is just
the first side of Janu Sirsasana
"6-7. Pressing carefully the anus by the left heel, stretch the right leg, and take hold of the great toe by the hand' contract the throat (not expelling the beath), and fix the gaze between the eye-brows. This is called Maha mudra by the wise."

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika calls it "The Great Attitude".  It is, of course, recommended to learn it from a teacher or at least read the chapter in full, I will not transcribe the whole instruction as it is long and detailed but consider these effects:

"By locking the throat and retaining the breath, the prana rises straight, just like a snake beaten with a stick becomes straight...

...So the kundalini shakti becomes straight at once. Then the two (ida and pingala -left and right subtle channels of energy of the body-) become lifeless as the shakti enters the shusuma -center channel of energy of the subtle body-...

...It is also one of the krya practices... spontaneously arises meditation"

UPDATED:  Just Reading the Yoga Makaranda (thank you Grimmly for providing the link to the free source) by T Krishnamacharya and he talks about this mudra too, it is the first to be mentioned. This is what he says:

Maha Mudra: With the left foot pressed tightly against the rectum, extend the right leg out in front. Make sure that the heel is touching the floor and the toes are pointing upwards. Hold the big toe of the right foot with the fingers of the right hand. Keep the chin firmly pressed against the chest and keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. Similarly, following the instructions mentioned above, repeat the mudra with the right foot pressed firmly against the rectum and the left leg extended forward.
Benefit: Tuberculosis (consumption of lungs), asthma, coughing and breath diseases, obstruction of bowels, diseases of the spleen, indigestion, such dis- eases of vayu will be removed.

The Benefits:

Gerantha Samhita:
"Cures consumption, the obstruction of the bowels the enlargement of the spleen, indigestion and fever - in fact it cures all diseases."

Hatha Yoga Pradipika:
Removes the worst afflictions (the five kleshas) and the cause of death. Therefore it is called the great attitude by the ones of highest knowledge.  Increases vitality, stimulates digestion and harmonizes all bodily functions, increases awareness, brings clarity of thought and helps to overcome depression.

Yoga Chudamani Upanishad:
Maha mudra is a practice that purifies the entire network of nadis (subtle nervous system)...absorbs rasa or health-giving fluids so it pervades one's entire being.

How about them mudras?

Enjoy the earth day. Here in the North East we are blessed with a beautiful one!

Greens are coming back to the river side

16 Glasses of Salty Water


  1. I was taught that the toes of the foot you are sitting on should point forward but I often see people with their foot pointing back. Are both ways correct?

  2. Hi Laura, guess we are talking ashtanga, not the mudra, in which case I have been taught many times over that it is a big no no to have the feet pointing back, rather then need to work towards pointing forward, and the heel to come as close to the perineum as possible. Much easier said than done.. So what you heard is right, feet underneath aiming forward.

  3. Morning Claudia. Ramaswami taught maha mudra more like Janu Sirsasana A, with the heel pressed in against/below the perenium rather than sitting on the foot like Janu Sirsasana B. The new revised edition makaranda describes it thus

    'Sit on the ground and bend the leg so that heel closes the mouth of the anus'.

    Iyengar has it more like Janu S A. as well.

    and of the course your translation

    'With the left foot pressed tightly against the rectum extend the right leg...'

    This is one of the postures/mudras that Ramaswami has as one of the four key postures to include in every practice and to spend an extended period in ( the others being paschimottanasana, sarvangasana and sirsasana) given the importance that he said K gave it I figure he must be pretty clear about he learned it.

    Difficult with translations but i would have thought the word 'sit' would have appeared somewhere in there if it was more Janu B.

    On a side note when I practice VK Asymmetric or VK modified primary I might practice all those in a similar fashion, taking the toe in Janu Sisasana A, B and C as well as Ardha badha padma paschi, grabbing the toe pushing my chin into my chest and engaging the bandhas strongly for a few long slow breathes with retention.

    Ramaswami points out too that being a mudra we can practice it anytime we want, as prep for Pranayama say.

  4. Ha, how interesting, thank you Grimmly for that detailed explosition of how Ramaswami teaches it. As soon as I read it I grabbed both the pradipika and the gheranda samhita to re-check, but they both clearly specifiy to sit on the perineum or anus depending on the book...

    I have to admit that I like Ramaswami's version better, I have never tried the mudra that way, in Janu A, but will do today in practice. thank you as I feel relieved, it is a lot more comfortable.

    So now I know the four postures that ramaswami believes to be the most important to stay ling in, paschimotanasana, this one -as a mudra- and the two inversions. Guess I knew of the other three through your blog and the emphasis he gives on them, they have affected my practice in a good way, now I have this one to pay a lot more attention to.

    Good to know is good prep for pranayama too, I had not heard that...


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