Mula Bandha May Be The Most Befuddling Underinstructed Technique In The World Of Yoga Here Begin Experimenting With How To Integrate Mula Bandha Into Your Asana Practice
The bandhas are mechanisms by which a yogi can direct the flow of prana, the universal life-force energy that animates and unites us all. With a few simple adjustments, you can learn to integrate Mula Bandha, one of four bandhas mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda Samhita, into your daily asana practice.
Jalandhara Bandha: Throat Lock
Jalandhara Bandha is mostly used in pranayama and meditation. During meditation, Jalandhara Bandha moves and holds energy in the upper chakras. It increases the potency of meditation and concentration. How to practice Jalandhara Bandha:
Keep the energy contained within the base of the spine and throat during Jalandhara Bandha. This lockcan help keep the energy from being expended from the five senses and even the hands and feet while practicing.
Jalandhara Bandha The Throat
Jal means throat, Jalan means net and dharan means flow or stream. Therefore, Jalandhara can be interpreted as the locking of the energy flow through the nerves and vessels of the neck area. When engaged with Khecari mudra , its effect magnificently heightens.
To find Jalandhara, sit tall and cross-legged. With your palms pressing into your knees, inhale through your nose and bring your chin towards your neck. Straighten your elbows, pull your chin back and engage the muscles there so you feel them tighten, then retain. Its the double chin you do want!
Jalandhara isnt often performed by itself rather, it is performed in combination with the other locks in breathing practices. It compresses the sinuses and main arteries of the neck, putting pressure on the throat to balance the thyroid and regulate metabolism. Plus, it relaxes you and alleviates stress.
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How To Activate Your Arches
One of the easier poses to practice this bandha is tadasana . Follow these steps below making sure that whatever you do feels good in your body and your breath is steady:
What Are The Five Pranas
Now, generally, people say prana is energy. Right and wrong! Not all energies are the same. Like there is energy in food, there is energy in the battery. But they are different types of energy. You can not replace food with batteries for your energy source.
Prana means life force or vital energy. These are the forces or energies which we need to do our life activities. Now, what are life activities? How do you know if someone is alive? You know because they breathe, move, speak, think. Right? So these activities are called life activities. And the energy or the force we need to do these activities is called prana. There are five major pranas that provide energy for five different kinds of life activities.
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The Anatomical Pada Bandha
In yoga practice, we often build on postures from the ground up with a stable foundation starting at our feet. We do this by energetically lifting the arches using our muscles in the inner and outer legs. The aim is to evenly distribute your body weight between the inner edge and outer edge of the foot.
When we have a good foot foundation, all four corners of the foot are actively supporting the stance: the big toe mound, the little toe mound, inner heel, and outer heel.
Your tibialis anterior is a big deal here. This muscle is located along the outer edge of your shinbone, then runs across to the inner front shin just above your ankle bone, and attaches near the big toe mound. Engaging the tibialis anterior creates a lift of your inner arch towards your outer shin all the way up to the knee, inner thigh, and eventually leads into the pelvic floor .
Basically, if we can focus on creating proper alignment in each foot, it benefits the entire lower part of the body including knees, hips, and spine.
Mula Bandha In Tadasana
In Latin, pelvis means basin. In Tadasana, you want this basin to be in a neutral position so that if the basin were filled with a precious liquid, it wouldnt spill out the front or the back. To find this neutral position, explore the potential placement of the pelvis. Stand upright with your feet together and your arms by your sides. As you inhale, draw the hips and buttocks slightly backward and increase the curvature in the lumbar spine. This is an anterior tilt. Then, exhale and bring the hips and buttocks forward, flattening the lumbar spine and pulling the pelvis into a posterior tilt.
Do this several times, and begin to notice that when the pelvis is in the anterior position, the muscles in the lower back tighten and the inner groins shorten. When it is in the posterior tilt, the buttocks clench and, again, the groins shorten.
To find neutral, stand with your pelvis anteriorly tilted, then lightly lift first the pubic bone and then the pelvic floor as you lengthen the groinsthis is Mula Bandha. To find it from the posterior position, draw your hips slightly back until the buttocks relax and the lumbar spine regains its natural curve. As you do this, lift the pelvic floor and lengthen the waist and groinsagain, this is Mula Bandha.
When your pelvis is neutral and you find Mula Bandha in Tadasana, youll feel a sense of stability without gripping.
See alsoA Womans Guide to Mula Bandha
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Bandha Actually Means Lock
Bandha is a Sanskrit word, that means lock or to bind. As the practice of Bandha locks or binds prana in certain parts of the body, therefore, its name is Bandha. The meaning of Bandha can be defined as:
The Yogic practices that lead to the activation of energy in certain specific parts of the body, with the help of the contraction on some muscle fibres, that accelerates the functions of all organs attached to that area.
Why Use The Root Lock
Mula bandha is said to cut through brahma granthi, the energetic knot of our resistance to change, which lies in mula-dhara chakra. On the physical level, practicing mula bandha creates attentiveness in the supportive musculature of the pelvis. This increases the stability of the pelvis, and, since the pelvis is the seat of the spine, its stability creates a safe environment for spinal movement. Thus, mula bandha strengthensand teaches the importance ofthe solid foundation that should underlie any movement.
Mula bandha also lifts and compresses the bowel and lower abdominal region. This creates a solid foundation, a platform under the breath that makes it possible to increase or decrease the pressure inside the torso and facilitate movement. The bandha creates lightness and fluidity when it is properly applied, the body is less earth-bound and more mobile.
Through gradual refinement, mula bandha becomes less muscular and more subtle, energetic, and etheric. This movement from outside to inside, from mundane to rarefied, from unconsciousness to enlightenment, is the basic pattern of transcendental yogic awakening. On an energetic level, mula bandha allows us to feel, restrain, and then direct our energies toward enlightenment. Finally, when practicing mula bandha on the highest level, the yogi sees the Divine in all with equanimity and detachment.
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Here Is How To Do Maha Bandha:
- You can practice maha bandha in a sitting position, either cross-legged on the floor or a chair.
- Take a few deep breaths to ground yourself into the practice.
- To begin, inhale deeply and exhale completely.
- Once you exhale entirely, apply mulabandha first, then uddiyana bandha and finally do the jalandhara bandha.
- Hold the breath out for as long as you comfortably can.
- Release each bandha slowly and inhale, starting with jalandhara bandha, then uddiyana bandha and finally mulabandha.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Preparatory And Follow Up Asanas To Practice With Moola Bandha Or Root Lock Pose
Preparatory Poses: The various Preparatory poses to be practiced before Moolabandhasana or Root Lock Pose are Supta Trivikramasana or The Reclining Split Pose, Samakonasana of The Straight Angle Pose, Hanumanasana or The Monkey pose, Kandasana or The Upward Ankle Twist Pose, Vamadevasana 1 and Vamadevasana 2. Until you get accustomed with these poses, you must master Virasana or The Hero Pose and Supta Virasana or The Reclined Hero Pose. You should also have mastery in Padmasana or The Lotus Pose or Ardha Padmasana or The Half Lotus Pose before you start practicing Moolabandhasana or Root Lock Pose.
Follow up Poses: The various follow-up poses to be practiced after Moolabandhasana or Root Lock Pose to counter the stretches in this pose are Skandasana or The Side Lunge Pose, Vrishikasana or The Scorpion Pose, Buddhasana or The Awakened Pose, Kapilasana and Padangustha Dhaurasana.
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What Are Bandhas How To Engage Them To Enhance Your Yoga Practice
There are many layers to a yoga practice. Once you understand the basics of proper alignment, the names of each pose, and perhaps a few Sanskrit terms, you may be ready to dive deeper into your physical practice. One of the most interesting and useful aspects of a yoga practice is understanding the Bandhas.
How To Do Moola Bandha Or Root Lock Pose
- Sit with the legs outstretched in front of the body on the floor or on the yoga mat to get into Moola Bandha or Root Lock.
- Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together.
- To practice Moola Bandha, draw the heels towards the body.
- Make sure that the outside of the feet should remain on the floor while getting into Moola Bandha or Root Lock.
- Place your hands behind the buttocks with the fingers pointing backward raise the buttocks onto the heels.
- Make sure that when you raise your buttock on your heels, your heels press the perineum while practicing Moola Bandha or Root Lock.
- The knees will remain on the floor while practicing Moola Bandha.
- Do not strain the ankles while practicing Root Lock.
- Place the hands on the knees in either chin or jnana mudra.
- You can practice nasikagra Drishti while in Moola Bandha or Root Lock.
- Hold the final position for 3 to 4 minutes if you are a beginner.
- Advanced practitioners should hold the pose for a longer duration or for as long as is comfortable.
- Release the legs and stretch the legs forward on the yoga mat or on the floor.
- Repeat when all the tension has left the legs and feet.
- You can repeat three to four rounds of Moola Bandha or Root Lock.
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Precautions: Who Should Avoid Mula Bandha
Pregnant and menstruating women should also avoid mula bandha. Breathe retention is an important part of bandhas, so anyone who is advised to not retain the breath should avoid mula bandha as well. Hypertension , cardiovascular issues, and anxiety are aggravated by breath retention.
Additionally, mula bandha is ill-advised in case of hernia, digestion issues , and chronic diseases. If you are uncertain about your condition, discuss your health problems with a yoga teacher and healthcare provider to understand what is safe and permissible.
Uddiyana Bandha: Flying Upward Lock
The Uddiyana Bandha is located between the navel and spine where the diaphragm forms an energetic and physical funnel. Known as the flying upward lock, Uddiyana Bandha brings fire to the digestive system and lightness to your yoga poses. Energetically, this bandha is a powerhouse that moves our energy and awareness to the higher realms of the heart chakra. This movement of energy brings less stress and more love into your everyday life. How to practice Uddiyana Bandha:
When you practice Uddiyana Bandha, dont get caught up in overthinking it or trying to make it perfect. Uddiyana Bandha is mostly used when moving between poses to help stabilize the body. Practice Uddiyana Bandha during your practice and soon it will become second nature. When to practice Uddiyana Bandha:
1. The Jump Back to Chaturanga
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Bandhas For Beginners: Intro To Yoga’s Interior Locks
Those of you that know me have heard about my first yoga class. For those of you that do not , I’ll spare you the nitty gritty and just say this — it was comical, and torturous. I arrived with basketball shorts down to my knees and old XL Stussy T-shirt. Models pranced painlessly on their mats while crunchies with closed eyes made lamaaz type sounds in the background. And the teacher went on and on and on about getting in touch with your sexual organs while harnessing your inner power and energy like the Hindu gods. Half way through class I faked a cramp in order to escape with some dignity. Oh, and I had shot a double espresso before hand to help me sweat. Needless to say disaster. But luckily life, and people, evolve.
I went back to the teacher, and the studio, a week later, and within 3 months I was practicing every day, yes, still in my baller shorts and mega Ts. I was getting better hard not to when you start unable to touch your toes and barely able to hold a plank but I was not soaring. In fact, it was not until I understood what bandhas were that my practice really evolved, on the inside and on the outside.
Uddiyana Bandha: Moving up from mula bandha we have the second bandha, Uddiyana. In Sanskrit uddiyana means to fly up, or to rise up. This flying up lock is thus all about your insides flying upwards, intangibly meaning your energy, tangibly meaning your diaphragm, stomach, and abdominal organs.
Mula Bandha Is An Energetic Concept
At its heart, mula bandha is an energetic concept. Its subtle and kind of hard to grasp onto. Id be remiss as a student if I suggested either that mula bandha is a thing, or that I know exactly what it is. My understanding of mula bandha continues to evolve as I practice. My experience is that mula bandha is a idea and a process, not so much a muscular contraction. Its about growing roots.
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Physical Qualities Of Mula Bandha
Mula Bandha is your Root Lock. Physiologically, this Bandha is a diamond shape hammock of muscles that spans the space between the bones of the pubis in the front, the two ischium on the sides and the coccyx in the back. These are your coccygeus, iliococcygeus, and the pubococcygeus muscles known together as your Levator Ani muscle and form part of the pelvic floor.
Activating and engaging these pelvic floor muscles supports the internal organs of the lower abdominal cavity and brings much needed awareness to the space between the pubis and the coccyx. This connection between front body and back body is usually saved for the overworked psoas muscle, which due to habitual patterns of hip flexion in what we do for work and play is one of the major causes of lower back pain.
Continuous awareness of the space between the pubis and coccyx in yoga poses and transitions can help alleviate already existing tightness, tension and/or lower back pain and can counteract any future possibility of lower back injury both on and off the mat.
Mula Bandha Dissolves The Brahma Granthi
In yogic literature , there are three granthis or ‘knots’ – Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra Granthi – in the human body. These knots are named after the divine trinity – Brahma , Vishnu , and Rudra . The three knots are present in every living entity and they block the flow of energy in the spiritual body.
The Brahma Granthi is a ‘physic knot’ located in the pelvic floor. It covers the root chakra and sacral chakra and prevents prana from entering the central channel. Incidentally, these two chakras are associated with basic needs , fear of death, and identity.
“The knot of Brahma blocks the muladhara and svadisthana chakra and keeps an individual engaged in the physical dimension via the pursuit of sensuality, satiation, anxiety, mortality, and other aspects of fear, self-identity, and survival,” Hansraj Joshi
When the two chakras are blocked, a person remains trapped in the material and existent world. In yoga, mula bandha and pranayama are used to untie the Brahma Granthi and energize the muladhara chakra and svadisthana chakra.
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