Sthirata, or fortitude, is acquired by the practice of the mudras. The mudras dealt with in works of hathayoga are positions of the body.
They are gymnastic, health-giving, and destructive of disease and of death.(1) such as the jaladhara (2) and other mudras. They also preserve from injury by fire, water, or air. Bodily action and the health resulting therefrom react upon the mind, and by the union of a perfect mind and body siddhi is by their means attained.
The Gheranda-Samhita describes a number of mudras of which those of importance may be selected. In the celebrated yonimudra the yogi in siddhasana stops with his fingers the ears, eyes, nostrils, and mouth. He inhales pranavayu by kakini-mudra, and unites it with apanavayu.
Meditating in their order upon the six cakras, he arouses the sleeping Kulakundalini by the mantra “Hum Hamsa,” and raises Her to the Sahasrara ; then, deeming himself pervaded with the Sakti, and in blissful union (sangama) with Siva, he meditates upon himself as, by reason of that union, Bliss itself and the Brahman.(3)
Asvinimudra consists of the repeated contraction and expansion of the anus for the purpose of sodhana or of contraction to restrain the apana in satcakrabheda. Sakticalana employs the latter mudra, which is repeated until vayu manifests in the susumna. The process is accompanied by inhalation and the union of prana and apana whilst in siddhasana. (4)
1. Gheranda -Samhita, Third Upadesa,
2. Ibid, verse 12.
3. Gheranda-Samhita,Third Upadesa.
4. Ibid., verses 37, 49, 82.