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The Gheranda Samhita

The Gheranda Samhita, believed to have been composed in the late 17th century or early 18th century, is a classical text on Hatha Yoga attributed to the sage Gheranda. Presented in the form of a dialogue between Gheranda and his disciple Chanda Kapali, this text explores the various limbs of yoga, offering insights into the practices of physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), and other yogic techniques.

The Gheranda Samhita




The Gheranda Samhita, believed to have been composed in the late 17th century or early 18th century, is a classical text on Hatha Yoga attributed to the sage Gheranda. Presented in the form of a dialogue between Gheranda and his disciple Chanda Kapali, this text explores the various limbs of yoga, offering insights into the practices of physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), and other yogic techniques.



Rooted in the rich tradition of yoga philosophy, the Gheranda Samhita is one of the three classic texts on Hatha Yoga, alongside the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Shiva Samhita. Sage Gheranda, the presumed author, is regarded as a legendary yogi whose teachings aim to guide practitioners on the transformative path of self-realization.


Structure and Sutras:

The Gheranda Samhita is organized into seven chapters or "Upadeshas," each representing a limb of yoga. The dialogue between Gheranda and Chanda Kapali unfolds the following key sutras and topics:


Asana Sutras (Postures):

Gheranda emphasizes the importance of physical postures for health, concentration, and spiritual growth.

Asanas such as Padmasana (Lotus Pose), Siddhasana (Adept's Pose), and Bhadrasana (Gracious Pose) are detailed.

Pranayama Sutras (Breath Control):

The text delves into breath control techniques, including Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing), Ujjayi (Victorious Breath), and Bhramari (Humming Bee Breath).

Pranayama practices are highlighted for purifying the energy channels (nadis) and achieving mental clarity.

Mudra Sutras (Gestures):

Mudras, symbolic hand gestures, are explored to direct and control the flow of energy in the body.

Hridaya Mudra (Heart Gesture) and Khechari Mudra (Tongue Lock) are introduced for their specific roles in yoga practice.

Bandha Sutras (Locks):

The Gheranda Samhita discusses energetic locks or bandhas, such as Mula Bandha (Root Lock), Uddiyana Bandha (Abdominal Lock), and Jalandhara Bandha (Throat Lock).

These bandhas are elucidated for their transformative effects on the practitioner's physical and energetic body.

Nadanusandhana Sutras (Meditation on Sound):

The text explores the practice of meditation on internal sounds (Nada) as a means of achieving heightened states of awareness and concentration.

Asanas and Pranayama:

Asanas (Postures):

Gheranda introduces a diverse range of traditional and dynamic asanas, emphasizing their role in preparing the body for meditation and spiritual practices.

Asanas contribute not only to physical health but also to mental discipline and inner stillness.

Pranayama (Breath Control):

Pranayama practices go beyond basic breath awareness, incorporating specific movements and locks to balance pranic forces and purify the practitioner's energy channels.


Content and Structure:

Seven Limbs (Saptanga Yoga): The Gheranda Samhita is structured around the concept of seven limbs of yoga, which include:

Shatkarma: Purification practices.

Asana: Physical postures.

Mudra: Symbolic gestures.

Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses.

Pranayama: Breath control.

Dhyana: Meditation.

Samadhi: State of profound concentration or absorption.

Dietary Guidelines: The text also discusses the importance of a sattvic (pure and balanced) diet as a part of the yogic lifestyle.

Shatkarma (Purification Techniques): The Gheranda Samhita details various purification practices, including:

Neti: Nasal cleansing.

Dhauti: Cleansing of the digestive tract.

Nauli: Abdominal massage.

Basti: Colon cleansing.

Kapalabhati: Skull-shining breath.

Trataka: Concentrated gazing.

Asanas (Physical Postures):

Static and Dynamic Asanas: The Gheranda Samhita includes a comprehensive list of asanas, both static and dynamic, to promote physical health and mental focus.

Emphasis on Steadiness and Comfort: Gheranda emphasizes the importance of holding postures with steadiness and comfort, encouraging practitioners to find balance in each pose.

Yoga Mudras: The text introduces yoga mudras, which involve physical gestures to channel energy within the body. These mudras play a role in redirecting and controlling the flow of prana.

Pranayama (Breath Control):

Breathing Techniques: Gheranda Samhita explores various pranayama techniques, including classical practices like Nadi Shodhana, Ujjayi, and Bhramari.

Integration with Asanas: The text suggests integrating breath control with physical postures to enhance the benefits of both practices.

Mudras and Bandhas:

Mudras: The Gheranda Samhita details mudras such as Hridaya Mudra (Heart Gesture) and Shanmukhi Mudra (Closing the Six Gates) to enhance concentration and energy flow.

Bandhas: Bandhas or locks, such as Mula Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha, are discussed for their role in directing and controlling pranic energy.

Philosophical Aspects:

Spiritual Awakening: The Gheranda Samhita views the practice of Hatha Yoga as a means to achieve spiritual awakening and self-realization.

Holistic Approach: It emphasizes the holistic nature of yoga, integrating physical, mental, and spiritual aspects to attain a state of profound meditation (Dhyana) and oneness (Samadhi).

Importance of Guru:

The Gheranda Samhita emphasizes the significance of a qualified guru (teacher) in guiding practitioners on their yogic journey.


The Gheranda Samhita outlines a variety of asanas (physical postures) to aid practitioners in achieving physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual growth. The text describes a total of 32 asanas. While I can't provide the detailed instructions for each asana without specific verses, here is a list of the 32 asanas mentioned in The Gheranda Samhita:


Siddhasana (Adept's Pose)

Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

Bhadrasana (Gracious Pose)

Muktasana (Liberated Pose)

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

Svastikasana (Auspicious Pose)

Simhasana (Lion Pose)

Vira Bhadrasana (Heroic Gracious Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Matsyendrasana (Lord of the Fish Pose)

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Kukkutasana (Rooster Pose)

Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose)

Uttana Kurmasana (Stretching Tortoise Pose)

Uttana Mandukasana (Stretching Frog Pose)

Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)

Mandukasana (Frog Pose)

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Vrishasana (Bull Pose)

Ashvatthasana (Fig Tree Pose)

Parighasana (Gate Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Alankarasana (Ornamental Pose)

Shayanadanda-asana (Lying Down Staff Pose)

Natarajasana (King of the Dance Pose)

Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)

Karmasana (Action Pose)

Yajnasana (Sacrificial Posture)

Mandala-asana (Circular Pose)

Garbhasana (Womb Pose)

Kakasana (Crow Pose)


Each of these asanas is designed to serve specific purposes, ranging from improving physical flexibility and strength to promoting mental focus and spiritual awareness. The Gheranda Samhita emphasizes the importance of practicing these asanas with a steady and comfortable posture to prepare the body for deeper spiritual practices like pranayama, mudras, and meditation.




 The Gheranda Samhita mentions various mudras, which are symbolic hand gestures that play a significant role in directing and controlling the flow of energy within the body. While the text doesn't explicitly list 25 mudras, it provides descriptions and instructions for several mudras. Here are some of the mudras mentioned in the Gheranda Samhita:


Hridaya Mudra (Heart Gesture): Placing the hands on the chest to symbolize the heart and promote inner connection.


Shanmukhi Mudra (Closing the Six Gates): Closing the ears with the thumbs, eyes with the index fingers, nostrils with the middle fingers, and lips with the remaining two fingers.


Guptāsana Mudra: Mentioned above, but specific details about this mudra may require more precise references within the Gheranda Samhita.


Ashwini Mudra (Horse Gesture): Involuntary contraction and release of the anal sphincter muscles.


Prana Mudra: Joining the tips of the little and ring fingers with the tip of the thumb while keeping the other fingers extended.

Kechari Mudra (Tongue Lock): Placing the tongue against the soft palate at the back of the mouth.


Yoni Mudra: A symbolic gesture representing the womb, often associated with meditation on the divine feminine.


Jnana Mudra (Knowledge Gesture): Touching the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb, symbolizing knowledge and wisdom.


Chin Mudra (Consciousness Gesture): Touching the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger, with the other fingers extended.


Bhairava Mudra: Holding the hands in a specific way to symbolize the masculine and feminine aspects of consciousness.


Maha Mudra (Great Gesture): A combination of asana, pranayama, and mudra, involving the practice of specific physical postures and breath control.


It's important to note that interpretations of mudras may vary, and the practice of mudras is often accompanied by specific breathing techniques and meditative states. While some mudras are explicitly detailed in the Gheranda Samhita, others may be mentioned more briefly. For a comprehensive understanding of the mudras in the Gheranda Samhita, it's recommended to refer to the specific verses and descriptions provided in the text.



Khechari Mudra (Walking in the Sky Gesture): Involves turning the tongue upward and backward to touch the soft palate, symbolizing control over the air element.


Matangi Mudra: Associated with the goddess Matangi, involves placing the hands on the knees with the fingers interlocked.


Viparita Karani Mudra (Upside Down Gesture): Involves lifting the legs upward against a wall, promoting relaxation and revitalization.


Vajroli Mudra: Involves the contraction and control of the genital muscles, associated with the control of sexual energy.




Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing): A technique where the breath is alternately directed through each nostril, promoting balance in the flow of energy.


Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath): Involves the contraction of the glottis to produce a sound similar to ocean waves, believed to purify the mind and enhance concentration.


Bhramari Pranayama (Humming Bee Breath): The practitioner makes a humming sound while exhaling, promoting a sense of calm and tranquility.


Surya Bhedana Pranayama (Right Nostril Breathing): Inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left, believed to stimulate the body and mind.


Chandra Bhedana Pranayama (Left Nostril Breathing): Inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the right, believed to have cooling and calming effects.


Kumbhaka (Breath Retention): The Gheranda Samhita emphasizes the practice of breath retention after inhalation and exhalation as a means of conserving energy and promoting mental clarity.


Kevala Kumbhaka: The spontaneous and effortless suspension of breath without any deliberate effort, considered an advanced practice in pranayama.


Legacy and Influence:


The Gheranda Samhita has had a significant impact on the practice and understanding of Hatha Yoga. Its teachings continue to inspire yogis and practitioners worldwide, providing valuable insights into the ancient science of yoga.


In conclusion, the Gheranda Samhita stands as a treasure trove of yogic knowledge, presenting a systematic and detailed approach to Hatha Yoga. The inclusion of 32 asanas, 25 mudras, and the mention of the Guptāsana mudra highlights the text's commitment to offering a diverse array of practices for individuals seeking physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

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