Ecstatic Yoga Workbook
Asana I Workbook
There are four bandha’s that we will discuss today.
A bandha is an energy lock, closure or seal, that contains, locks in or seals the prana in the body. By sealing the bandha or lock we prevent prana and life force energy from leaking out of the body. This allows the pranic life force energy to build up and intensify in the body. This increased pranic energy allows the body to heal, restore, vitalize as well as dissolve dense energy patterns and energy blocks so prana can flow naturally and powerfully for vibrant health and well being.
When we hold and engage the bandha’s we increase the flow of prana life fore in the nadi’s, most especially the Sushmna nadi that flows up the spine. When the Sushumna nadi or great river flows powerfully in the energetic and physical body resulting in spiritual growth and awakening as well as physical well being. As the energy intensifies from holding the bandhas during asana practice two things occur… the prana builds from the asana practice and that increased prana is sealed in at the bandhas. As the pranic energy of the body increases and intensifies through this practice the Sushumna nadi awakens the dormant kundalini energy at the base of the spine. Rising kundalini energy triggers a spiritual awakening in the body, mind, soul.
This creates a healthy upward flow of energy in the body, mind, and soul creating a lighter body, lighter emotions, a more relaxed state of being and a genuinely happy state of being.
The four bandhas we will discuss are
Mula Bandha or root lock, which is located at the pelvic floor.
Uddyianna Bandha or diaphragm lock, located at the belly.
Jalandhara Bandha or throat lock located at the throat.
Maha Bandha, the ultimate bandha which involves the engagement of all three bandha’s simultaneously.
Benefits of Engaging the Bandha’s include increase flow to the nadi’s, brain centers, chakras, prana vayus. A purification of the entire physical and energetic body systems, releasing of emotional wounds and blocked energy. Increasing circulation of energy and blood, strengthening of organs. Quieting the mind, balancing inner systems such as metabolic, circulatory, hormonal.
Contraindications, it is not advised to engage the bandha’s, most especially mula bandha during mentration. If pain occurs at anytime while holding the bandhas release them all.
Mula Bandha-Root Lock
The mula bandha is a lifting up of the pelvic floor and when the lock is engage you feel a lift of the pelvic floor. The exact location is the perinium or area between the anis and the testes for men and the bottom of the pelvic floor behind the cervix. You use the same muscles when holding urination or menstruation from flowing downward. In the beginning you may contract the anis as well, however with practice you will relax the anis and isolate the pelvic floor.
If you’ve ever picked up something heavy, the body naturally engages the mula bandha.
Uddiyana Bandha- Diaphram Lock
Uddiyana bandha is when we bring the belly inward and upward. Uddiyana means to rise up, therefore we rise up and engage the diaphragm. This bandha has a greater force than mula bandha and together with mula bandha creates a powerful lock upward. You can create this upward movement by bringing the abdominal wall and abdominal organs upward and toward the spine.
You may use this movement when you are making your waistline look slimmer.
Benefits of engaging the Uddiyana bandha; Improves digestion, sooths abdominal discomfort, provides a massage of the internal muscles and organs of the low back.
Jalandhara Bandha- Throat Lock
Jalandhara bandha has also been called the chin lock because we bring the chin inward to engage the throat for this lock. Jal means throat, dhara means flow or stream. When we engage the jalandhara bandha, we lock the energy flow through the nerves and vessels of the neck area.
This bandha is engaged along with the Khecari mudra, curling the tongue to rest on the roof of the mouth. This creates an intensifying effect.
To engage Jalandhara bandha you bring your chin in towards your throat. You can feel this action if you were trying to pull the chin back to create a double chin.
Benefits of engaging the Jalandhara bandha; balancing thyroid, regulates metabolism, relieves stress.
Maha Bandha- Ultimate Bandha
Maha Bandha is when you engage all 3 bandha’s discussed above. The correct order of engagement is to to first engage the mula bandha, then engage the jalandhara bandha and finally engaging the Uddiyana bandha.
To release the Muha Bandha it is recommended to release in reverse order releasing the Uddiyana bandha first, then the jalandhara bandha and lastly the Mula bandha.
While practicing asana yoga postures and pranayama you can add the engagement of the bandha’s to heighten and intensify the benefits of your yoga practice. Some postures you can hold all three bandha’s easily and some postures may limit holding certain bandhas. Do your best to hold Maha bandha, all three bandha’s and relax if one bandha is not able to be engaged.
To add the engagement of the bandha’s while practicing yoga is a way to increase the benefits of yoga and increase the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice.