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Hatha Yoga Bandhas

Contents
Introduction
Part One: The Classical Bandhas
Mula Bandha: Muladhara Chakra (Brahma Loka)
Uddiyana Bandha: Manipura Chakra (Vishnu Loka)
Jalandhara Bandha: Vishuddha Chakra (Rudra Loka)
Traya Bandha (maha bandha)
Utilizing the Three Basic Bandhas with the Breath,
Pranayama and Advanced Mudra Practice
Part Two; Adjunctive Bandhas
Jivha Bandha, Khechari Mudra and Talu Chakra
Ajna Bandha
Swadhi Bandha
Nabhi Bandha
Hri Bandha
Conclusion: Paramananda Bandha

Introduction
There are three classic bandhas; mula, uddiyana, and
jalandhara bandha. When practiced together they are called
tri-bandha. They are practiced together or individually at
specific times during kriya, asana, pranayama, mudra,
visualization, dharana (concentration), and meditation
(dhyana) practice. They also occur spontaneously
especially in children, but also in yogis who allow
themselves to be moved by the evolutionary
transformational intelligent force, the kundalini. Once
thoroughly familiarized, they are integrated into daily life
and dream time -- integrated 24//7.
When the vital life force is not wasted or dissipated into
external neurotic compensatory pursuits of fragmentary
existence, but rather remains in synergistic harmony with all
of creation and its beginningless source, then friction,
imbalance, and effortful force is spontaneously replaced by
the innate effortless and powerful force aligned with natural
law. May that force always be known, respected, honored,
listened to, and guide our way. It would be a very rare
human being who has not become conditioned outwardly so
that their energy is dissipated or misdirected, although at
birth these areas where the bandhas are configured by
one's innate wholesomeness wholistically are often intact
and functional automatically. Because of negative
conditioning the conscious practice of hatha yoga bandhas
becomes very useful. Others who are already
naturally/spontaneously aligned, will feel little effect from the
practice.
What the Bandhas do
Let us once and for all abandon the definition of bandha to
mean contraction, tightening, or lock. A better translation
would be valves, gates, or doorways, because they direct
the internal energy flow to irrigate the nadis, open to
continuous flow, activate the energy body, and align it with
all-creativity.
Another reason why we will try to avoid the translation of
bandha as "lock", is because the word, lock, may reinforce
the forceful approach where injury or disease is more likely
to occur. Lock often denotes holding back, tension, rigidity,
or blockage; while what we are attempting to affect is flow,
openness, and fluidity. For example, instead of approaching
bandhas as containing, locking in, or damming up the
internal energy, it may be wise to approach it as moving
energy through, a relaxation of a blockage or stressed
situation, while irrigating the thirsty soil or opening up
obstructed and dormant veins, channels (nadis), and
circuits (chakras). Eventually, the implementation of bandha
has to be effortless and natural. We assume that this
homeostatic wisdom is innate, but has simply become
obscured, hidden, and forgotten through generations of
institutionalized ignorance and disempowerment, which has
distracted human beings from their natural powers and their
true harmonious embodied relationship. Bandhas used in
synergistic conjunction with asana, pranayama, mudra,
visualization (dharana), and meditation (dhyana) practices
act as a powerful synergistic aid.
Let us look closely to what a bandha is. To implement a
bandha means to gather together, bind together, to
connect, to connect two or more disparate parts together
into a circuit, to establish flow or a connection, to integrate
and defragment, to seal a distractive leak, to gate, re-direct,
to loosen or liberate preexisting blocked or repressed
energy, to coalesce and energize. Bandhas are loci of focus
that connect one's attention to the energetic dynamics of
both internal dynamics and external dynamics. Bandhas as
a procedure acts as a connecting valve that directs the
biophysical flow of biopsychic energy in the bodymind.
Energy which may be leaking, blocked, dissipating, or out of
synch is reconfigured back into its original natural
alignment. A bandha acts a bridge or bond between two or
more disconnected parts. The process forms a bounded
gate, a valve, or levee. On a coarse general level it is
accessed through a subtle physical movement such as
mulabandha, uddiyana bandha, jalandhara bandha, etc. In
more subtle usage it connects and gathers together the
energy circuits of the psycho-physical bodymind. Bandhas
in hatha yoga are the outward representations of
pranayama, pratyahara, and dharana. It remedies
chronically unintegrated and distracted energetics, while
allowing us to re-energize/reconnect and align with our
original nature and its source. It is essentially a technique of
relaxation/release of stuck energy so that it can be recycled
into the great integrity -- its natural place. On a physical
level, bandhas involve two or more points where an
energetic relationship is made consciously mutually
synergistic. It brings prana into the bodymind and initiates
flow.
Because the body, mind, and natural evolutionary
phenomena (creation) exist in an energetic relationship,
working in conscious attention with the bodily gates
(bandhas), will provide a suitable home repository for the
living creative spirit. Bandhas direct the energy flow (prana)
inside the bodymind, so that blockages of dammed up and
repressed energy are alleviated, areas starved of prana are
nourished, and the life force energy (prana), which may
tend to leak out because of dissipative habits are
rearranged, harmonized, activated, and integrated.
Bandhas thus bind back the dissipative energetic that are
fragmented, integrate these isolated circuits within the
wholistic bodymind context, irrigate the internal energy
channels which activate the internal harmony of the nervous
system, organs, glands, tissues, and cells, and, as such;
the embodiment aspect of pratyhara (restraining the
dissipating outward flow of prana while bringing it back to
be redistributed from the core center of creativity in order to
achieve union and harmony in the core center) is
culminated as the integration of body, mind, and the
creative/evolutionary energetic original source.
At first, bandhas often is learned as a coarse physical
procedure utilizing muscles, massage, and physical
movement, because most have already become estranged
and numbed out from our natural subtle innate inter-
connections with the body and with the material/physical
world. Eventually the yogi becomes aware of the underlying
neurophysiological, mental, energetic patterns, internal
channels, and circuitry underlying the physical; hence, the
bandhas are effected by awareness and mental alertness in
the intermediate state. Eventually they are effected
spontaneously and naturally (sahaj) and continuously (not
only in daytime sadhana, but in sleep and in All Our
Relations.
Bandhas are internal energy valves, connection points,
or gates, which when activated allow the energy to flow
through the bodily vessel activating the dormant potential of
embodied spirit. Another way of stating this is that the
undesirable dis-eased stagnant rigidity of a state of chronic
spiritual disconnect can be disrupted through the intelligent
use of bandhas, pranayama, and pratyhara providing the
pathway for flow -- the ongoing everpresent spiritual
reconnect of the great expanse of being.
Bandhas, thus bind and redirect the evolutionary/creative
energy from leaking out; but it should never be viewed as a
muscle contraction. So here the definition of bandha will be
effectively used in terms of an interlock (to lock in and
interconnect inner systems), rather than as the more
common definition of a "lock", which carries with it a
negative connotation of locking out, damming up,
restraining, constraining, forcing, excluding, repressing, etc.
Bandhas are thus energy gates/valves or connection points
that connect and harmonizes one's vital energy (prana) with
the inner constellations (microcosm), the outer
constellations (macrocosm), and the universal eternal
source of all energy (the hologram). In order to learn about
this activation and harmonization, we have to learn about
the subtle energy, inside, outside, and non-dual unborn
Source (the inherent original potential energy within all
things). But like asana practice, also in bandha practice, we
can learn about the subtle internal energy, by first
performing the physical, coarse, and external aspect
(coarse energy). Then later once we become more aware of
the presence of the internal and more subtle energetics, we
can forgo the coarse, gross, physical learning tool.
Knowledge of the energetic template (microcosm) effects its
natural union with the macrocosm, which has become
disrupted through negative conditioning.
The underlying fifth limb in ashtanga yoga, pratyhara, in
turn acts similarly as a powerful vehicle for tapas
(increasing the spiritual fire) and is its energetic counterpart
(energy patterns) as our energy patterns are no longer
dissipated nor distracted into dualistic externalizations or
pursuits (mentally, physically, or energetically). As such,
pratyhara is the general operating principle while the
specific bandhas work at specific energy circuits. It is
cogent that pratyhara is not merely the withdrawal of the
senses from the sense objects, but the withdrawal from
dualistic subject/object foolishness. One aspect of pratyhara
and bandhas may look like a withdrawal, but the complete
bandha and pratyhara manifests as a re-direction from the
true nature of mind, the Divine purusa where we become
instruments (hands fet, and all the organs) of the infinite
fountainhead of love and delight. The activation of the
bandhas which will be shown later, not only affect the body
and the energy, but thus also the mind and spiritual centers
because the mind rides on the horse of wind (prana), just as
the winds (prana) are affected by the mind. Hence through
the bandhas as an integrated practice, the yogi learns how
the mind affects the body and prana, as well as how the
body and pranic circuits affect the mind. Philosophers might
be skeptical the the latter statement, but it is common
knowledge that being drunk, taking drugs, not having good
sleep, food, lack of exercise, and organic disease most
often negatively affect the normal person's mental and/o
emotional ablatives and function. So too do positive
physical activities positively affect the mind, mental abilities,
and emotions.
The practice of pratyhara thus reverses the outward flow of
mind that is often sucked into illusory world patterns where
the data from the senses misinterpret the true meaning of
their "objects" -- where objects appear dualistically as
separate from self, i.e., the limited egoic world of I and it.
Because the mind cannot move without prana, bandhas are
utilized to efficiently and quickly reverse the outward flow
while activating inner evolutionary flow and thus bandhas
(wisely applied) have the ability to quickly establish the
objectless meditative state and inner supportive energy
flows necessary to create synchrony with natural evolution
and thus propel the yogi into turiya or samadhi.
J ust as it easy to view pratyhara or vairagya only in its
withdrawal aspect (rather than as a descent of grace), so
too it is more valuable to view the implementation of the
bandhas more than as a withdrawal, but a redirection and
activation of energy flow, which has an innate intelligence at
its ultimate Source. Yogic processes are always moving us
closer in alignment and synchronicity with this Source
energy. Thus bandhas activate and catalyze the healing
energy vortexes within the body/mind which have previously
become abandoned or obscured. Bandhas can be
implemented consciously through a conscious hatha,
kundalini, or laya yoga practice, but are also often
performed naturally and spontaneously through grace ( as a
result of fortuitous action or karma). Bandhas then can be
the spontaneous co-arising intrinsic result of the creative
and evolutionary activity which acts both endogenously as
well as throughout all of nature (see maha ananda bandha
at the last section). .
Although at first bandhas are most commonly described in
anatomic terms in relationship to certain body parts,
muscles, glands, and organs, this can be misleading. It is
far more valuable to approach them as connection points in
which flow can be re-established -- as internal energy re-
configuration loci, which in turn creates the key points in a
template or energy pattern/grid that aligns and activates a
corresponding physical, emotional, psychic, and spiritual
constellation and circuitry. As such it not only restrains or
binds/bounds the dissipation of energy outward or often
downward, but rather redirects and provides the feed in a
healing and energizing direction -- tuning and aligning the
body/mind with the evolutionary energy of the back body,
energy body, vajra body, light body, or rainbow body
potential -- as a whole system constellation, moving the
energy non-dually - destroying superficiality while bringing
the practitioner into deeply meaningful dharmic coursings.
For the average neurotic it will at first help withdrawing from
the "external sense world" moving cit-prana inward and
upward, activating, and catalyzing the inner alchemical
transformative processes associated with the nadis (energy
channels), chakras, the central core channel sushumna (the
central channel), and the core energy (kundalini), so that we
may abide in our natural pure intrinsic natural state
(swarupa). In this respect the bandhas are also associated
with the evolutionary progression through the granthis
(knots) and lokas (spiritual realms) which will be discussed
later.
This is part of the process of reclaiming our innate
inheritance and power which has become repressed
through many years of negative conditioning. But in order to
maintain context and perspective and to avoid becoming
stuck in the preliminary process (where many rules
supercede awareness), it also must be kept in mind that
ultimately the energy direction is neither exclusively inward
nor outward, neither just upward nor downward, left or right,
but rather non-dual as in a pulsation (spanda). It is a going
out to Source and flowing back from Source through
creation simultaneously. Through witness (purusa)
consciousness we may have perspective to see our actions,
our mind streams, our situation in mindfulness and self
awareness, but at the same time even though it is a broader
context of awareness, it is still limited vision. But who is that
purusa (silent witness) who is watching in pure open
awareness? Here the terms outer and inner lose their
meaning in universal awareness.
The bandhas are mastered by awareness and praxis.
This awareness is gained through the practice of
mindfulness and vairagya implemented simultaneously.
When the bandhas are mastered, free flowing progress in
realizing the intent behind asana, pranayama, mudra, and
meditation are greatly accelerated with the result allowing
us to abide in the heart of samadhi faster, easier, longer,
and more completely. The bandhas are associated with the
three granthis (knots) and as such provide the motive power
to unlock spiritual dimensions or lokas as well (Brahma
Loka, Vishnu Loka, and Rudra Loka or Nirmana Kaya,
Sambhoga Kaya, and Dharma Kaya). Thus the three
classic bandhas of mulabandha uddiyana bandha, and
jalandhara bandha, can be said to provide the keys to
unlocking these three granthis, respectively.
The following description is coincident with the esoteric
tradition of hatha yoga (three bandhas). Here will be
introduced the idea that there are many bandhas, each one
capable of moving the energy upward (or restraining its
downward motion) to the next chakra. When yogis enter
sahaj samadhi these bandhas occur naturally and are
mutually synergistic. The mulabandha connects us with the
earth energy, grounds us, moves the earth energy up from
the muladhara chakra to the swadhistana (or otherwise
prevent it leaking out the muladhara) while moving the sky
and sun energy down to connect with the earth. A non-dual
synergistic co-mingling (or synchronization) is realized
between body and mind, between sky and earth, crown and
root. For the fortunate, duality is destroyed
Likewise swadhi bandha connects the energy from the
swadhistana chakra up to the manipura chakra and down to
the muladhara chakra. Uddiyana bandha moves the energy
up to the heart (anahat) chakra and down to the
swadhistana connecting these regions. Hri bandha moves
the energy up from the heart to the throat chakra and down
to the manipura. J alandhara bandha moves the energy up
to the third eye from the vishuddi (throat) chakra and down
to the heart (anahata chakra) or air center. The ajna bandha
moves the energy up from the ajna chakra to the crown
(sahasrara) and down to throat (vishuddi).
Swadhi, hri, and ajna bandhas have not been previously
detailed in classical hatha yoga literature as such, but none-
the-less their discussion will also be presented. In one
sense there exist a myriad of bandhas in the human body
as well as throughout the universe. In the body minor
bandhas can be said to exist at each synapse, cell, vein,
ganglion, organelle, etc. Together they form bioenergetic
and biopsychic circuits. Their synchronistic efficacy need
only be explored and experienced by anyone pursuing
authentic hatha yoga sadhana. For most practitioners the
bandhas are most efficacious when practiced from the
bottom up, having formed a firm base at the root (base)
chakra the muladhara first.
Yoga Nidra: Relaxation of tension/contraction points
A synergistic and parallel process is yoga nidra, where the
entire body is relaxed, the energy channel opened, and
reconfigured affecting continuous flow. There are different
approaches to yoga nidra practice available to a yogi.
Bandha practice can be viewed as an active facilitation of
this alignment and harmonizing state. They work
synergistically. Thus, bringing one's attention to the bandha
connection points and opening up the valves so located can
be facilitated like yoga nidra practice.

In summary, taught in this way the bandhas are energy
valves/gates, not muscle contractions or locks. They are
locks only in that they prevent the energy from being
dissipated or distracted at various key energy centers. They
are more valves/gates in the sense that they redirect these
energies from being dissipated into activating the inner
circuitries at these centers and breaking up the knots
(granthis). As such many hatha yogis teach the bandhas as
the means to breaking through the granthis which in
themselves operate not only in the body/mind/energy fields,
but in the more subtle realms of vijnanamaya (higher
transpersonal non-dual wisdom) and anandamaya koshas
(the spiritual reams).
In hatha yoga and pranayama the bandhas should be
taught first, being the basis for the correct positioning of the
postures. The bandhas correct the asana, while the asanas
refine the practice of the bandhas. Even though the
beginner will have to approximate their understanding of it,
in this way their energy awareness will grow and injury will
be prevented through learning how to acknowledge, respect
and honor prana (vital energy).
As we progress in this awareness or energy wisdom
(awareness of the cit-prana), the more subtle internal
energetic forms are naturally integrated and put to use,
while their coarse, gross, and external form are then no
longer needed. Some people do not need to go through the
coarse form ( for example through grace, karma, natural
propensity these mudras, bandhas, and kriyas manifest
naturally (sahaj). Thus the yoga kriyas can act as a
powerful synergist to break up previous negative
programming (samskaras) imbedded in both the psychic
and cellular tissue. This is further explained
in http://www.rainbowbody.net/Purity/Kriya.htm and
elsewhere.

Mulabandha: Muladhara Chakra and Brahma Granthi
The root (mula) lock moves the earth energy in and up
through the muladhara chakra system connecting above it
to the water chakra (swadhistana) and further upward to
beyond the sky, while also serving as the valve connecting
sky energy, spirit, and awareness below to creative
embodiment. This is more than a non-dual two way street;
but rather the mechanism where the essential vital energy
integrates with the timeless evolutionary energy. This is the
profound subject of ha-tha (sun and moon) yoga alchemical
integration.
Mula bandha keeps the energy flowing between the body
and the earth in a non-dual direction (neither only up and in,
nor exclusively down and out). When the apana (the
downward moving, cooling, and purifying energy) that
normally moves within the ida nadi (psychic nerve channel)
is synchronized with the prana (the upward moving
energizing and activating energy) that normally moves
through the pingala nadi (psychic nerve), then the
unification/integration that connects the earth energy of
embodied existence (at the muladhara) with the unborn
formless realm of sky (at the crown of the head) occurs in
perfect balance (sattva) allowing the healing energy to flow
in the sushumna nadi (psychic nerve).
The muladhara chakra (psychic plexus) is the most
mysterious and poorly understood chakra in hatha,
kundalini, and tantric yoga. It is where dormant potential of
the human animal power resides; and it is from here the
kundalini becomes activated and enters into the central
channel (sushumna) connecting with and activating the
super-conscious network for living embodiment. The lights
go on, so to speak! This is not some archaic myth or
fantasy, and should not be ignored nor demeaned' but
rather its knowledge is essential to success in authentic
hatha yoga. Mulabandha, once mastered, is designed to
keep this energy flowing in this region free from distraction
and dissipation. Indeed, when the mulabandha is lost, our
grounded feeling of centeredness in the body and the
planet becomes lost or distorted. Our physical mode
becomes somewhat dysfunctional and clouded, lacking
vitality, vividness, true conviction, and inspiration.
Here, it is noteworthy that in yogic literature, the goddess
kundalini is pictured as lying dormant in the muladhara
chakra in the form of a serpent coiled three and a half times
around a lingam. The symbol for this chakra is a downward
facing triangle normally, but when the chakra is activated
(by an activated kundalini) the triangle reverses upward
pointing! In this sense the bandha does act to bind the
outflow, but moreover to activate/empower the integrative
power.
Mulabandha is used in conjunction with the rest of the
bandhas, in asana practice, pranayama, mudra, pratyhara,
dharana, tantra, and dhyana practice. It occurs naturally in
samadhi.
Preparation: The classic gross physical preparation for
mulabandha is aswini mudra in order to purify and tone the
nerves, glands, and muscles of the area. In mulabandha,
however the difference between it and aswini mudra is
distinguished where the anus/rectum is not
activated/contracted as a whole, but rather focus is directed
at the tail bone, the bottom of the perineum, and the lifting
of the torso off the pelvis in a single integrated movement.
For the male it occurs as an inward and upward lifting or
draw at the space about one inch superior to the perineal
floor, the pelvis forms as a stable base, and the torso lifts.
On a gross level it is recommended that the practitioner
massage the perineal space (directly posterior to the
genitals and anterior to anal sphincter) in order to become
more directly familiar with it. This may seem repellent to
those who have become conditioned to dislike natural
function or find it unclean, inferior, or unspiritual; however,
this is truly an advanced practice, suitable for best of
yogins. In Chinese medicine, this is Conception Vessel 1
(CV 1) point in acupuncture. Here, the CV 1 point moves
upward (superior) as Governing Vessel point 1 (GV 1)
moves downward toward (see acupuncture charts). This is
Huiyin (Chinese, while the english translation is Meeting of
Yin point. It is the intersection point of the CV, GV and
Chong Meridians. The Governing Channel 1 point (GV 1),
called, Chang Qiang located midway between the tip of the
coccyx bone and the anus simultaneously connects toward
CV 1.
Through mulabandha, the perineal space becomes subtly
indented, domed upward, soft, and capable of being drawn
in and up simultaneously with the lift of the torso off the
stabilized pelvic base. This also creates an open/empty
space for the front of the pubic bone and sacrum to move
toward each other. It is similar for the female except that the
bottom of the action occurs higher up near the cervix being
drawn up and in to use bony parts as reference points. A
more accurate descriptor is that the fascia immediately
posterior of the genitals move toward the anus, while the
fascia anterior to the anus moves toward the genitals,
simultaneously as the perineum is drawn upward and
inward. The motion is more energetic in nature than
physical and is perfected when the point immediately above
the genitals (at the bottom of the pubic symphysis and the
point directly posterior to the genitals (the anterior portion of
the perineum) are brought together toward each other and
connected. That forms a bottom cup, lift, and support
preventing outward flow (dissipation). This stabilizes the
entire pelvis and spine.
Here we are *not* describing the normal pelvic tilt, which
are either anterior or posterior rotations of the pelvis
(anteversion/retroversion), which occurs between the
femoris and pelvis and/or between the trunk and pelvis; but
rather mulabandha occurs deep within the moveable
elements and energetic dynamics of the pelvic girdle itself.
It is an energy dynamic more than a muscle movement that
aligns the front of the anus (perineum) with the lower
reaches of the sacro-coccygeal plexus), the end of the
spinal cord (the cauda equina), the front of the body at the
pubic symphysis, the lower abdomen, the heart, throat, the
pineal, and the total integration and alignment with the
crown chakra. Having said that, a slight forward tilt
(anteversion of the pelvis) while simultaneously indenting
the front of the perineum with the point immediately below
the pubic symphysis simultaneously will be helpful for most.
In short, the pubic symphysis does not tilt up, in relation to
the perineum and tailbone.

It might be sufficient to point out that aswini mudra, vajroli,
and sthula basti are only preparations to achieve
purification, basic awareness, and getting in conscious
touch with this much maligned area, while moving the
energy in the pelvic and urogenital diaphragms (root chakra
and water chakra areas). In other words these practices are
only preparatory in order to help the practitioner to get in
touch with locked and stagnant energy, rigidity, frozen
stagnation, and then to activate this very important center.
In that sense these are kriyas (preparatory purification
exercises). Perineal pressure point massage is a more
excellent adjunct. This is Conception Vessel 1 (CV 1) in
acupuncture. Here, the CV 1 point moves upward (superior)
as Governing Vessel point 1 (GV 1) moves downward and
toward each other (see acupuncture charts).
Hence, the actual bandha does not require strength in the
pubo-coccygeal muscles (PC muscles of the famous Kegel
exercises), nor does it require strength in the levator ani
muscles. More correctly it requires awareness, conscious
relaxation of the region, the removal of impurities, irritants,
toxins, and energy blocks in the region -- a balanced
tonification in the nerves of the area, and a gentle energetic
initiation of a movement in the direction explained in more
detail below. In the latter regard, the coarse, gross,
physical, and external practices of aswini mudra, vajroli
mudra, and sthula basti may help at first, but this is so only
that we become aware of the more subtle, less coarse, and
inner energy dynamics that are involved -- so that the
energy can move through this area unimpeded and that the
region is strong enough to withstand an increased energy
flow such as is demanded in kundalini yoga -- so it is truly
balanced, functional, and tonified. In a real sense we are
energizing and strengthening the nadis of the region as well
as the neurophysiology, and only secondarily the organs,
muscles, and glands of the region also become energized,
powerful, and capable of vital and healthy support.
Mulabandha occurring slightly in and up from the actual
perineal floor, depends upon the energetic relationship
between the sacrum/tailbone complex and the urogenital
diaphragm (located posterior to the pubic bone region). If
we are able to align the pubic bone with the sacrum/tail
bone in every movement (whether sitting, standing, lying
down, or walking), then we would have a stable and vital
foundation in which to develop. We can better now
understand how the stable, aligned and energized pelvis in
mulabandha supports and lifts the entire spinal column.
To be more exact it is the area associated with the
genitourinary diaphragm behind the pubic bone that placed
in a mutually synergistic energetic relationship with cauda
equina via the upward movement at the perineum (CV1).
This vital area is usually very often ignored and devoid of
consciousness because of body negative programming.
The plan then is to re-energize and fill it with cit-prana. Thus
in addition to the classic preliminary exercises of aswini
mudra and vajroli mudra, one utilizes acupuncture point CV
1 by taking a clean finger and pressing the area directly in
front of the anus and directly in back of the scrotum or lips
of the vagina inward/upward (after bathing). A gentle
massage of the area that invigorates the area while
removing tension or lesions is recommended. See that
there is no tension or tightness in this region. Learn to feel
and sense this area fully and devoid of aversion or clinging.
From an early age these areas become associated with
being unclean, unmentioned, and unconscious. Later on
this same negative dissociation occurs with the genitals. So
here we are also clearing out any childhood negative
programming around the earth and water chakras. Younger
practitioners may feel temporary sexual stimulation;
however it will be found that as the sexual tensions in the
region are relaxed, the sexual aspect in regards to desiring
an external release will actually be reversed That occurs
because the internal yin/yang, sun/moon, male/female,
shiva/shakti, or ha/tha pranas are now balanced and
integrated in sattva.
Mulabandha will simultaneously draw the pelvis down from
the upper torso both (front) and from the spine in back,
while balancing left and right wings of the ileum while the
perineal space is drawn upward. Hence, the spinal column
actually lengthens through traction in conjunction with
jalandhara bandha. As the perineal fascia do not contract,
but rather simultaneously are energized and relaxed,the
area is drawn upward. If that area is made stiff, contracted
or hard, it can not be drawn up. Since the bandhas are in
essence energy gates, and hence very subtle, that is why
one often starts with aswini and vajroli mudras, which are
practiced first in their coarse aspect and later in their
subtle/energetic aspects. Thus, the practice naturally goes
increasingly from the coarse to the more subtle. If the
practitioner is able to become directly aware of the
energetic dynamics at CV 1 and GV 1, then that is best.
When one naturally resides in an the great expanse (in
wholeness and integrity), mulabandha is entirely
spontaneous.

Vajroli in its energetic aspect affects the opening of the
swadhistana chakra, so that no energy gets stuck there. It is
very valuable that we do not approach vajroli mudra nor
mulabandha (the latter occurs in the muladhara chakra) as
muscle contractions in order to avoid tension, blockage,
stress, or rigidity. Indeed genital, reproductive, and pelvic
tension must be relaxed, so that the cit-prana can freely
flow. Of course "most" movement involves the activation of
some muscles (except movements that take the advantage
of the force of gravity) or relaxation of a previous
tense/spastic muscle. ALL MOVEMENT (isotonic activity)
involves a corresponding relaxation of the holding muscle
(called the antagonist muscle). For most of us, it is this
relaxation (and resultant activation of the parasympathetic
nervous system) that is key to mulabandha and vajroli. This
allows the energy to flow through this area, irrigating it with
chit-shakti. THEN it no longer feels trapped nor is there a
need for it to flow out and discharge its energy once the
charge gets dammed up. This is what gives us "the lift" in
mulabandha (at least in part). The assumption here is that a
pre-existing chronic tension and blockage has already
occurred, hence the release of the contraction will facilitate
movement resulting in the restoration of natural harmony.
Since we are addressing specifically mulabandha, the two
main points to consider then, are the sacrum/tailbone
complex in the posterior of the body at GV 1, and the area
posterior to the pubic bone. Through observation one may
notice that most adults move their pelvis and sacrum all at
once i.e., there is no independent motion of the sacrum and
pubic bone from the rest of the pelvis (the innominate bones
of the ilea and ischium). Yet closer anatomical study shows
that the healthy sacrum is not fused with the pelvis, but
forms a joint (the SI joint). Also the pubic rami (left and
right) forms a joint at the pubic symphysis. So what
happens is that the sacrum/tailbone complex moves down
and forward at the same time the pubic bone moves down
and forward. These two movements toward each other form
the subtle SCOOP or cupping motion of mulabandha. More
subtly it is the perineal area moving up as the cauda equina
moves down and forward. That gives us the lift.
Moreover the two pelvic wings (os coxae) are designed to
move independently from each other; thus the`sacrum and
tailbone are liberated. Thus, much of the asanas, kriyas,
and mudras are designed to break up the stagnant energy
and negative conditioning that unfortunately occurs in the
muladhara region. All together a conscious mulabandha
informs our asana, pranayama, mudra, dhyana, and daily
practice.
Here we can identify at least twelve independent muscles in
ten muscle groups that connect at the sacrum and run
across the ileum, ischium, the back, to the legs, the pubis,
and to the tailbone. On the posterior surface of the sacrum
are attached the iliocostalis, longissimus, multifidus, erector
spinae, latissimus dorsi, longus and brevis rotatores. On the
lateral surface of the sacrum, the gluteus maximus
attaches, while at the anterior surface of the sacrum we find
the levator ani group, piriformis, and coccygeus groups. It is
valuable to note that the latissimus for example attaches all
the way up into the upper arm. It is not important to break
out your anatomy books to see all the various attachment
points, but rather to be able to feel the effects that the
sacral/coccygeal complex has upon the whole body and
especially upon the spine.

Mulabandha thus mobilizes the previously stagnant energy
and repositions places it into its rightful energetic and
aligned place. The correct application connects the front
and back of the body, the left and right, the ida/pingala -- it
aligns the spine as well. Although the bandhas are
ENERGY valves, this is too subtle for most, thus the energy
is first gotten in touch with through the physical form of
physical movement. So if you follow this so far, then you will
be utilizing your asana practice to go deeper inside -- feel
the energy and especially to feel the synergistic and
mutually electro-magnetic polar relationship between the
pubic bone and tailbone. Again this is subtle at first. If one
has no conscious memory of experiencing it, then of course
one may not even entertain its possibility, but this is how we
grow and learn, entertaining the possibilities, moving from
coarse/gross and outer to the more subtle, energetic and
inner. This is very much like pranayama, where the coarse
breath leads us to the energy (prana) awareness and then
to communion the implicate integrating intelligence at the
Source of this energy.

So too in mulabandha the tailbone and pubic bone no
longer move with the rest of the pelvis, but rather configure
the base of the entire pelvic bowl and spine, where the
physical body moves around that root foundation. Here the
tailbone and sacrum drop at the same time the pubic
symphysis drops down -- they both move toward each other
INDEPENDENTLY of the rest of the ileum and ischium,
contrary to conventional assumptions. Here, the sacrum
moves away from occiput and the entire spine becomes
long-- in traction, while at the same time the torso is lifted
away from the chest and armpits (the front of the heart
moves forward and upward). We don't have to know the
anatomical terms to know the energy of mulabandha, but
yes it has an anatomical relationship as well. This
mulabandha makes backbends, forward bends, twists,
sidebends, contralateral poses, etc. all work in a functional
and energetic alignment, and in turn these poses should
make the energy of mulabandha work with the rest of the
bandhas. They are mutually synergistic; and thus, an
energetic partnership is engaged and enabled to complete
and fulfill the practice; all of which is self instructing, if one
balances and harmonizes these energetics with this
awareness in mind.

In other words, mulabandha should be found in all poses
(unless one rounds the back). When mulabandha occurs
there is less effort and more energy so it is not a
contraction. Physically the fascia (pelvic diaphragm) in the
perineum lose tension and hardness and are able to dome
upward but rather a lift up creating space for the tailbone
and pubic bone to move inward toward each other. As this
diaphragm domes upward, the sacrum and pubis drops
downward to meet the earth (if you are standing). So there
co-exists both an upward motion and a downward motion
simultaneously occurring. Physically the pubic bone and tail
bone no longer move glued to the rest of the pelvis. Freeing
up this motion is the subject of much "technique" in the
kundalini and hatha yoga literature.
A practical example of using mulabandha in
a backbend, try cobra (bhujangasana). Laying on your
abdomen and front thighs, become conscious of the pubic
bone and sacrum. Do not allow the sacrum to lift toward the
lumbar, or at the same time do not allow the pubic bone to
lift toward the armpits. Both the pubic bone and sacrum do
not shift, but rather scoop together at the mula (perineum)
creating an inner lift, forming the stable base from which the
front and and the back lift from the center. Do not allow the
sacrum to lock between the two ilium bones (ilia), to move
superior, or tilt so that the tip of the tailbone rises.
Chronic tension of the lower chakras is associated with the
dysfunctional tendency to move both the pubic symphysis,
tailbone/perineum, and ilia as one unit. In mulabandha, that
is not the desired goal, but rather is counterproductive.
Rather it is remediated when intra-pelvic movement is
reestablished. Specifically the pubic symphysis and tailbone
move toward the other (tailbone or pubis), while the two ilia
decompress the sacrum. In a characteristically rigidified
organism "normally" the public bone and sacrum/tailbone
complex will not come together, because the fascia in the
pelvis is frozen and rigid. The question arises how we can
lift the spine and the torso long off the mula (base) without
arching or tilting the pelvis making the spaces in the spinal
column elongated. allowing these two bones to come
together initiates the mutual synergy of the front and the
back of the body. This synergy between GV 1 and CV 1
establishes the physical stable base (mulabandha). One
does not consciously think to contract any muscles
whatsoever in the perineum, but rather allow for the lift,
elongation, and intelligent innate energy to lead the
unfoldment into union.

Similarly in standing forward bend, like uttanasana,
bending forward the pubic bone into the front groin crease
toward the sacrum. Simultaneously the sit bones (ischial
tuberosities) rise up toward the sky away from the knees
(the sit bones being attached to the ilia). However, the two
ilia bones alongside the sacrum spread (or at least do not
lock toward each other), thus, allowing simultaneously the
sacrum/tailbone complex to tuck down toward the CV 1
point, moving in to connect with the pubic bone and
providing lengthening the spine and the legs also
simultaneously. Here let the perineum move in and up
internally as the pelvic bowl opens top and bottom.
Especially in surya namaskar (sun salutations)
mulabandha is joyously "found", held, searched for
throughout, maintained, and leads (rather than being
"held"). Yes, instead of a tension, it is the release of
tension. It is a synergistic feeling where there is an overall
palpable lift. The yogi's experience of practice will change in
time as ones' energy body changes. The quality of a lift,
lightness, ease, sense of effortlessness release, initiation,
balance, strength, and harmony are experienced.
Also mulabandha sets the base for the completion of
uddiyana bandha, but one can not say that to do
mulabandha one must apply uddiyana bandha first,
although it is true that a good uddiyana bandha improves
and completes mulabandha, just as mulabandha completes
uddiyana and jalandhara bandhas. All the bandhas work
synergistically together. If one looks at the motive force of
uddiyana bandha to be the expiratory breath, allowing the
breath (or rather the prana) to suck in and lift the belly, then
the pelvic diaphragm will lift as well in mulabandha. So
mulabandha and uddiyana bandha are mutually synergistic,
but can say that mulabandha should "always" be first -- it is
the foundation, the root, and the basis. Some people teach
that the ENERGY of the three bandhas should be
maintained in all poses, but physically there may not visible
movement.
The conscious use of bandhas as a conscious and joyous
benefit can be found in all asanas -- all the time - while
standing, on abdomen, on side, on back, sleeping, twisting,
working, etc. -- as part of the practice of communion. The
relationship between the perineum region configured in
mulabandha to that of the other parts of the body such as
the lumbar, the spine, the occiput, the shoulders, the armpit
chest, the heart, etc. is an education in itself.
Maybe it is best to say that each bandha completes the
other and that they work synergistically very well
simultaneously (see traya bandha below). The energetic
form of these bandhas can occur in antar (inner) or bahya
(external) kumbhaka (stoppage of breath) and/or throughout
the day time and dream time practices, while it is true that
the coarse form of uddiyana bandha is performed only upon
external retention of the breath (bahya kumbhaka). Also see
Tri-Bandha Below)
Other links are available
at http://www.rainbowbody.net/Hathayoga/ , but especially
follow the link at the bottom entitled "Hatha Yoga Cleansing
Exercises" and check out aswini mudra, vajroli mudra, and
sthula basti.
Yes, more detail can be given for each pose (there can
always appear to be MORE in this regard when we view
things in terms of their parts, rather than in terms of the
whole. Yet, it is counterproductive to feed any illusion that
increasing differentiation without increasing integration is
useful. Rather it is in unification, integrating, in balancing,
harmonizing -- dancing and celebrating creation/creator that
authentic yoga is achieved.

Traditionally, mulabandha is practiced selectively and
sometimes in combination with other bandhas at certain
stages of pranayama, asana, mudra, meditation, and tantric
practice. Some modern schools recommend a light
mulabandha throughout the entire asana practice (or rather
a continuous energetic mulabandha). It is one of the three
bandhas in tri-bandha (together with uddiyana and
jalandhara bandha), used in most pranayama retention
cycles. Classically there exist many nadis that may have
obstructions to be opened, but only three granthis of which
their location is not always agreed upon, but which some
hatha/kundalini yoga schools suggest that the three
bandhas serve as their remediation. Here mulabandha
opens up the Brahma Granthi providing knowledge of
Brahma Loka.
Since there are numerous nadis, which may be obstructed,
most hatha/kundalini schools suggest that a major
advantage of a functional asana practice with the use of
bandhas is to open these nadis and marmas, remove their
blockages, and clear the states/static, so that the
samskaras get cleared out, the distorted energetics cleared
away, and the dormant creative/evolutionary energy circuits
become activated moving the practitioner into manifesting
our greater creative evolutionary potential.
Procedures:
The area between the tailbone and the pubic bone is
brought together in a healthy trans-integrity or phase of
synergistic equilibrium.
In order to tonify this region and consciously get in touch
with its energies the practice of aswini mudra in the kriya
and shat karma section may be useful. The practice of
mulabandha is very different, however from aswini mudra,
as mulabandha is designed to complete an energy circuit.
Following is first a discussion on the practice with hip flexion
(anterior tilt of the pelvis). Then we will follow with a
discussion of what mulabandha looks like in hip extension
(posterior tilt of the pelvis).
In forward bends occurring at the hip joint (between the
pelvis and femoris) the ASIS (Anterior Superior Iliac Spine)
normally tends to tilt forward (anteversion) over the toward
the top of the thighs while the pubic bone tilts downward
and backward (posterior) increasing the hip joint cease/fold.
Thus, in normal hip flexion (forward bend at the hip), the sit
bones move back, out, and away from the back of the
thighs (the bulk of the hamstrings) -- the sit bones lifting
superior away from the back of the thighs, while the front of
the pelvis at the ASIS moves toward the front of the thighs.
Normally, in a locked pelvis, the sacrum and tailbone
follows the movement of the pelvis; but in mulabandha the
tailbone actually is moved in trans-integrity toward the pubic
bone (as the pubic bone moves toward the tailbone, the
tailbone and sacrum moves toward the pubic bone
attempting to meet it) at the perineal space. Thus one may
say that the sacral/coccygeal complex drops down away
from the lumbar toward the pubic bone, creating a
narrowing of the space at the perineum between the
tailbone and pubic bone in a healthy dynamic energy
vortex. This movement affects both the pelvic diaphragm
and the uro-genital diaphragm.
For example in an open fluid pelvis, in downward facing
dog, the pubic bone is tucking down, around, and under as
the pelvis tilts forward (in anteversion) while the sit bones
raise upward toward the sky and backwards toward the wall
behind, but the sacrum and tailbone do not move up and
back, but come around to meet/welcome the pubis at the
perineum. That is mulabandha in hip flexion.
The only way that this movement can happen is that empty
space is created for it in the pelvic floor (near the pelvic
diaphragm). If that region remains hard and rigid, nothing
can move there, but rather if it is relaxed and softened,
then the floor of the pelvic diaphragm can dome
upwards creating more space for the tailbone to move
toward the pubic bone.If it's tight, it won't budge in this
way. However, when the perineum domes or lifts upward,
the trans-integrity between the two form a stable base for
the spine (which rests on top of the sacrum) and hence the
rest of the body. Connecting to the sacrum are no less than
10 separate muscle groups which attach to the back, the
legs, to the other parts of pelvis (such as the pubic bone,
ischium, and ilium).
Similarly in a backward bend occurring at the hip joint as in
hip extension the ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) tends
to tilt off and away from the front of the thighs (in
retroversion or posterior tilt), tending to tuck the tailbone
and sit bones under, around, and up toward the pubic bone.
When we allow for the posterior tilt of the sacrum to occur,
but simultaneously bring the pubic bone back down to meet
the tailbone, we have mulabandha. Space is created here in
the front of the pelvis between the area behind the pubic
bone (urinary-genital diaphragm and ASIS). The groin fold
decreases, the CV 1 point is energized and lifts, the front of
the thighs remain long from the ASIS, but the pubic bone
does not raise up toward the navel. Here too, the sacrum
does not raise up toward the lumbar spine even if the pubic
bone heads away from the navel, but rather the sacrum
drops as the tailbone attempts to meet the pubic bone.
Again in mulabandha helps us to increase our dynamic
awareness in asana practice.
As in the example above in cobra (bhujangasana) keeping
both the pubic bone and the sacrum long away from the
head, while the legs remain in traction out and away from
the hip socket. The pubic bone should not tilt out (anterior
and up (superior) in elation to the tailbone. Many directions
can be given to the body to help effect mulabandha, but in
the end, it is a lift at the perineum that affects the entire
alignment of the body. Perhaps the primary instruction
would be to check-in often at the perineal space (especially
in contralateral poses) and then effect flow and balance.
Simultaneously check-in consciously at the tailbone
(coccyx) to see that it the fascia in the area is relaxed and
that the bone can move (it can even move independently
from the sacrum). Line up the tailbone with the spine in
order to obtain flow.
Hints: Let the energy lead the breath, let the breath lift the
diaphragm, let the the energy and breath then suck in and
up the abdomen, let the energy and breath then suck up the
perineum.
Benefits: Mulabandha occurs at the bottom axis or central
connection point of the body connecting and cupping the
front and back, left and right, and bottom with top (through
the connection with the spine). Mulabandha forms the
stable support of the entire torso, spine, and physical body.
It can provide traction on the spine. It forms the stable base
for uddiyana bandha and vajroli mudra as well as the other
asanas and is essential to traya bandha, which in turn is
essential to effective pranayama practice. It forms the basis
for mudra and long meditation sits by keeping the energy
flowing in that region and taking any strain or tension away
from the lumbar and SI joints and fascia.
It activates Brahma granthi and allows us to enter Brahma
Loka (or Nirmanakaya). It tonifies, purifies, balances, and
energizes, the pelvic and urogenital region (see vajroli
mudra for more specific results at the urogenital
diaphragm).
Cautions: If one tends toward constipation, constriction.
tightness of the lower abdomen, hips, pelvis, legs, and
lower limbs, then the perineal region may already be
constricted and overly domed up already. Since
mulabandha balances the energy front and back, left/right,
ida/pingala and allows flow to occur, sometimes in order for
this activation to occur, the area needs to be relaxed and
even drawn down slightly in order to balance and
synchronize the apana (the downward energy) and prana
(upward flowing energy).
Likewise hemorrhoids are a physical symptom caused by a
disturbance/distortion or imbalanced tension of the apana
and prana in the muladhara region which in turn may be
aggravated by harsh, spicy, coarse, and irritating foods as
well as by harsh, lustful, and irritating thoughts forming the
precursory energetic vectors, which influence the physical
characteristics in the region, as regards to disease or its
remediation.GV 1 and CV 1 acupuncture points are
remedies for many complaints. So in this case, mulabandha
is applied to alleviate the dis-ease, distress, and ill-feelings
in the muladhara, while increasing flow, well being, ease,
balance, harmony, and synchronicity.
Check-in consciously, often, and if possible continuously
with mulabandha as a synergistic synchronicity of body and
mind, root and crown, muladhara and sahasrara making
sure that the tailbone area is relaxed and the tailbone is free
to move independently from the two ilia. Mulabandha IS
grounding. Make sure that the perineum does not tighten
and it feels that energy is flowing through this energy valve -
- allow it to open and support you. After you are able to wag
the tailbone and feel it move freely, then check in with it to
see that by aligning it with the rest of the spine. The spine
becomes long, as the tailbone aligns with the spine, the
perineum, and the pubic bone in order to catalyze
synchronization and to prevent distortion. One moves
consciously from the alive conscious awareness of the
activated perineal space. Here, both the back body (spine)
and front of the body) are aligned through their mutually
synergistic alignment at the base, which is directed by non-
dual synchronized energy in the central channel (see
above).
In functional mulabandha the pelvis is neither in classic
retroversion or anteversion; but rather it rests in synergistic
synchrony as the sacral/coccygeal complex and pubic rami
forms a trans-integrity -- a stable base between the pelvis
and the back and the pelvis and the thighs. The anterior
area from the anus (perineal space) and the posterior area
from the genitals moves toward each other as the CV 1
point moves in and upward. The cauda equina and urinary-
genital diaphragm move toward each other in trans-
integrity, while the area behind the pubic symphysis is
drawn downward and inward (inferior and posterior). Thus
the pelvis is perfectly balanced and there is no strain in the
spine or the groins. Here mulabandha can occur
spontaneously through shakti's grace and/or one can
consciously utilize it as a means of embracing her.

Uddiyana Bandha: Works on the Manipura Chakra and
Vishnu Granthi
Uddiyana means flying upward energy lock. It is the bandha
that moves the energy upward from the earth, water, and
fire centers into the heart (air) chakra strongly influencing
the efficacy of the lower bandhas by "making room" on top.
It helps accomplish the perfection of the rest of the bandhas
(see traya bandha below) and thus accomplishes pratyhara
sucking the energy into the middlemost column
(sushumna). It prevents accumulated tensions, toxins, or
stagnation to develop or accumulate in the navel region.
Although cleansing, through its power to remove stagnant
energy stuck at the navel center, e it allows stuck or
distracted energy to move through this region into the heart
chakra up through the sushumna which is its natural
uncorrupted path, hence it helps to purify and energize not
only this region, the organs in the front of the lower spine,
but also the entire body. As it moves energy stuck at the
navel center it connects the energy at the swadhistana
chakra (water center), moves it through the navel, and
merges it in the heart. Thus it opens stuck energy and
allows it to flow into the Heart Center (opening the Vishnu
Granthi) from below. It relaxes tightness in the gut and torso
while connecting mulabandha with jalandhara bandha.
Procedure/Technique: Follows is the coarse physical
performance of uddiyana bandha. To be succinct simply,
stand with the feet approximately hip width apart. Bend the
knees slightly and rotate the pelvis forward (anteversion or
also called dog arch). With the hands placed on top of the
front thighs above the knee exhale all the breath out rapidly.
Raise the rib cage and then concave the area below the
navel upward and inward back toward the spine. Draw in
and up the lower belly inwards toward the spine allowing
the lower back to gently round while the pelvis
spontaneously tucks under (in retroversion of the pelvis).
Empty the breath out, pressing the entire lower belly inward
back toward the spine without rounding the upper back nor
hunching the shoulders forward. That is uddiyana bandha,
simple. After mastery the entire abdomen and lower/middle
back will feel very bright, energized, invigorated, relaxed,
and tension free.
Preparation: Although uddiyana means flying upward, this
refers to the energy, not the physical navel point which
remains drawn downward and posterior (back toward the
spine). What is drawn up is the very lower belly (especially
for those with belly sag). In a simplified coarse way,
uddiyana bandha can at first be described as the drawing in
of the entire navel region into the belly button as the belly
button is drawn in toward the spine. One is best reminded
from the very beginning that the bandha is designed as an
energy valve (to prevent dissipation at the navel center) --as
an opening and energization of the fire chakra (manipura).
In this latter sense it withdraws distractive or dissipating
energy back into the core thus fueling spiritual evolution or
sadhana.
For best results and especially to first learn its effects, it is
at first performed standing with the feet approximately
shoulder width apart or wider (toes facing forward or only
slightly to the side). First take up mula, swadhi, and nabhi
bandha if you know them (described elsewhere) and
embrace them throughout uddiyana. If you do not know
these other allied bandhas, do not worry. You will do very
well at first just learning uddiyana bandha by itself or
uddiyana may spontaneously and synergistically trigger the
other bandhas.
Now take some time to feel (in sensate awareness) four
finger widths below the navel. Connect energetically (the
hara or lower tan tien/dan dien) in sensate awareness
consciously and then visualize that area being drawn in
toward the spine and lifted.
1) Bend the knees slightly
2) Tilt the top of the pelvis slightly forward (anterior rotation
in dog arch)
3) Place the hands on the top front of the thighs above the
knees with the fingers pointing slightly inward and gently
lengthening the torso off the pelvis (this creates more space
in the abdomen) with elbows bent. Allow the top of
collarbones to raise up in front while the medial spine of the
scapula sinks toward the sacrum. Do not hunch the
shoulders, collapse the chest, nor round the upper back, but
rather let the sacrum ground (in mulabandha) while creating
space in the abdomen and chest by raising the chest
toward the chin (in jalandhara bandha).
4) Rapidly exhale all the breath through the nose.
5) Allow the abdomen to form a hollow concavity sucking
the lower belly region in toward the back leaving a deep
concave space between the xiphoid process and pubic
bone. You are creating more space in the belly (between
the sternum and the pelvis).
6) Allow this motion to lengthen the lumbar spine and move
the pelvis moves into a slight cat tilt (retroversion) with the
effect of further raising the lower belly inward and upward.
This last phase is accomplished at the pelvis by releasing
the dog arch (anteversion) but it is motivated through the
action centered at four finger widths below the navel (lower
dan dien or hara). Allow this motion to enhance the
mulabandha while keeping the chest/chin in jalandhara
bandha.
Embrace the bandha and then release it preventing a
feeling of strain or force (before the energy starts to
dissipate). The concentration is at the lower dan dien below
the navel (closer to the pubic bone than the bottom of the
sternum at the xiphoid process in front). Instead of sinking
the chest, rounding the upper back, or shoulders forward at
all, rather raise the sternum actively up (superior) while the
lower ribs remain back in toward the spine. As the rib cage
rises up to the chin in jalandhara bandha, then more space
between the pubic bone and the sternum is created. Empty
the breath out as long as the feeling of emptying and
tonification in the abdomen is not compromised or strained.
Find the natural impulse to suck it back and in thus
massaging the internal organs while simultaneously
drawing in and lifting up the space above the perineum.
Release the jalandhara bandha and breathe normally.
Repeat at least three times. That is uddiyana bandha.
Detailed Performance: At first learn uddiyana standing.
Later one can apply it in other poses such as lotus etc. So
as above while standing, place the feet at shoulder width or
wider. Bending the knees slightly, place the hands on the
inside of the lower thighs above the knees with the fingers
pointing slightly inward (medially) and slightly toward the
knees. the elbows are slightly bent. Do not place undue
weight on the hands, arms, or shoulders nor torque the
knees or legs, nor round the shoulders, nor collapse the
upper torso or upper back. Rather use the hands to help lift
up the chest creating space in the belly. Let the top medial
spine of the scapula sink away from the ears towards the
sacrum as the front top of the ribs and collar bones raise up
and around toward the back. Keep the ribs lifted off the
pelvis so that the space in the abdomen is maximized.
From there place the pelvis in forward rotation (dog arch)
which is the anatomic anteversion position of the pelvis.
Find mulabandha by allowing the sacrum and tailbone to
passively drop and establish energetic flow with the pubic
bone. Resist any tendency to round the upper or middle
back but rather find the lift of the shoulder girdle upward
toward the chin in front and around downward toward the
sacrum in back. This lifts the ribcage up off the pelvis
maximizing the empty space in the abdomen. Raise the
chest to the chin in jalandhara bandha after rapidly exhaling
all the breath outward.
Simultaneously while maintaining the feeling of empty
space in the abdomen, allow the abdomen to concave in
front so that the area about four finger widths below the
navel is drawn backward and upward. This initiates the
movement. Then allow the rest of the abdomen to concave
and follow. Relax completely the dog arch (anteversion of
the pelvis) by allowing the pelvis to move into a natural cat
tilt (retroversion of the pelvis) as the concavity unfolds. As a
result of this slight retroversion the lower belly in front is
further lifted and mulabandha is more greatly effected as
well. Later after one understands mulabandha, then one
understands that a successful mulabandha completes
uddiyana bandha and visa versa (a successful uddiyana
bandha completes mulabandha). Eventually one
experiences all three bandhas as more than
complementary. Here you will feel the entire abdomen as
empty and spacious.
Work in the Bandha:
Keep the heart and upper chest forward and lifted
throughout, yet anchor the lower ribs back toward the spine.
Allow the collar bones to stay lifted and back. This will
create more open space between the sternum and the
bottom of the pubic bone in the abdomen. Implementing
jalandhara bandha, creates space in the entire torso by
raising the upper chest upward toward the chin (jalandhara
bandha) while using the arms to help lift the chest while
pressing the medial edges of the scapula down toward the
sacrum. This will prevent rounding the upper back and/or
collapsing the upper torso, but rather keep the entire trunk
long off the pelvis. Even though the breath leaves the chest
and rib case as the diaphragm is drawn up into the pleural
cavity upon the exhale, the energy of the pose is shaped by
keeping the back and torso long, thus naturally creating the
space for the navel to move back and inward toward the
spine binding and concentrating the energy between the
navel and the lumbar spine. Although it is best to start
uddiyana in dog arch (anteversion of the pelvis) allow the
pelvis to wiggle back and forth to find the optimal position
which maximizes uddiyana bandha.
Exhaling all the breath out as above, retain the external
retention (bahya kumbhaka) and bring sensate and
energetic awareness to the other two bandhas
(mulabandha and jalandhara bandha) in order to increase
the energetic effect of uddiyana. Let the outgoing breath
create the space in the abdomen. Allow the navel to be
drawn in toward the lumbar spine naturally and
spontaneously by allowing the hardness in the abdomen to
soften. Experiment in this manner kinesthetically exploring
the energy of the bandha, and release before there arises
any need to gasp.
Release before any strain and allow the breath to come
back to normal. Repeat two more times from the beginning
(above) or check the step by step description given at the
end of this section. Immediately afterwards straighten the
knees and let the arms raise over the head with a slight
extension of the hip and back on an inhalation as a nice
counterpose stretch.
Ideally the neck should remain free without compression or
strain and the throat relaxed, keeping the throat, jaw, and
eyes, soft and relaxed, the neck long, and the chin inward in
jalandhara bandha. Advanced practitioners should
remember to precede uddiyana bandha with mulabandha
and swadhi bandha, then maintain them throughout. For
beginners it will be easier to implement the jalandhara
bandha at the end of the exhalation to further raise the
chest off the pelvis creating even more space in the
abdomen, then release jalandhara before the in-breath and
release of the uddiyana bandha. Mulabandha can be held
throughout or else released after the uddiyana is released
and the air is inhaled.
Before there is any sensation of stress, tension, or strain felt
anywhere, please release all the bandhas fully, inhale, and
straighten the back and scan the body taking energetic
inventory.
Hints and Kinks:
It may be valuable for some to raise the chest up while
beginning the implementation of uddiyana bandha
visualizing the prana being sucked up from the lower
chakras (swadhistana and muladhara), through the navel
region (manipura chakra), and up to the heart chakra
(anahata). The diaphragm has to get out of the way so the
abdomen can move back toward the spine, so it is allowed
to be drawn up into the pleural cavity expelling the last of
the air from the lungs. This is done without efforting at the
diaphragm, rather the diaphragm is lifted up by the energy
and space created by the outgoing breath, through the
action of the navel striking back toward the spine, and the
jalandhara bandha. The diaphragm should feel at all times
unstressed and relaxed. This is all accomplished by
allowing the muscles at the center of of the diaphragm to
relax and be sucked up while the muscles at the bottom
sides of the diaphragm are allowed to relax (compress)
inward. Remember the diaphragm relaxes on
the exhalation.
It is noteworthy that in normal respiration, the diaphragm
muscles are activated/engaged during the normal
inhalation process and are relaxed passively in normal
exhalation. However in uddiyana bandha we utilize a
forced/active exhalation forcing the air out of the lungs
rapidly through the above described action at the
abdomen (drawing back the navel point as in
kapalabhati or agni sara). note worthy also is that the
diaphragm forms a dome shape on exhalation (the top
of the dome is toward the head) while the bottom of the
dome is anchored at the spine and lower ribs. Thus
even the lateral edges of the diaphragm also compress
inward toward the core center.
Instead of lifting the organs of the upper abdomen up out of
the way, this lift of the diaphragm created by the energy of
the outgoing breath creates the requisite space in the
abdomen that permits the energetic compaction and
embrace which encloses and supports the entire abdominal
region. As the navel folds back in toward the spine the
outward dissipation of energy at the fire chakra is bound
back for alchemical internal usage. Even the sides of the
abdomen are drawn inward toward the center. This
contributes to the tapas (spiritual energetic effect) or
pratyhara of the bandha.
The Vishnu Granthi (knot) can be broken through in this
manner so that Vishnu Loka is revealed. Here the energy
moves up from mula and swadhistana chakras through
manipura chakra, drawn into the heart region, thus the
blockages between the water chakra and the air chakras
are remediated. With the change in energy, there is realized
a corresponding change in mental, emotional, and spiritual
energetics.
Later one understands that this more subtle energetic
relational matrix of the suksma sharira and the mental
matrix are more causal to the physical matrix of the gross
body (sthula sharira) so that this can all be done by the
mind, but at first most of us have to learn this more subtle
relationship by working with the coarse body (sthula
sharira)The coarse benefit of the lifting up of the diaphragm
upon exhalation (rechaka) allows the diaphragmatic
muscles to fully relax and creates space for the
unobstructed and natural ability for the navel to strike
backward toward the spine forming a natural concavity in
the abdomen below the sternum, stomach, liver, and
pancreas. As the diaphragm is relaxed, it then rests and is
restored. Then implementing uddiyana bandha at the end of
the inhalation) puraka) an added benefit then is to move the
air and prana into the lungs and heart chakra -- to expand
the heart. Greater still is the mental/spiritual opening of the
Vishnu Granthi into the the Vishnu Loka.
There is no breathing in and out during the classical coarse
implementation of uddiyana bandha, but rather the breath is
held out throughout in rechaka kumbhaka (also called
bahya kumbhaka). Try keeping the lower back lengthened
between the iliac crests and the back ribs without tucking
the pubic bone up toward the navel. Here mulabandha
keeps both the front and the back long and prevents
collapse. The spine moves toward the navel as much as the
navel moves toward the spine. Where they come together is
where the energy of the bandha creates the fire. As the
navel area is drawn inward toward the spine, the lower back
is drawn into a retroversion (backwards tilt of the upper
pelvis), but this retroversion of the pelvis is completely
dictated by the motion at the belly. In other words a forced
retroversion should not be implemented.
In the coarse action at first it is best to release jalandhara
bandha first, then release uddiyana bandha before there is
any strain so that you do not gasp for breath, cough, feel
strained or out of breath afterward. Any shuddering or
palpitations of the heart means you should stop
immediately. Remember we are strengthening and
softening the abdomen region simultaneously, removing
tension, and stress. At the same time, we are
activating/stimulating the navel center. We are moving
energy. It should be pleasant and energetic so please start
very slowly, kinesthetically, softly, but energetically. Later
when you enjoy it naturally you will want to do it longer and
more often when it is needed.
After the complete exhalation (rechaka) and while emptying
the external retention (bahya kumbhaka), more experienced
students familiar with the energy of mulabandha may try
making a fake inhalation (go through the muscular motions
of inhaling without actually inhaling) while still in the bahya
kumbhaka. This will lift the diaphragm slightly more, but it is
extremely important not to cause stress to the glottis, the
diaphragm region, or lungs. This reverse drawing up on the
diaphragm is a very subtle movement and is best not tried
by beginners unless they have an experienced teacher
monitoring. If you have suffered or suffer from hiatal hernia
be very careful with this last instruction or simply forgo
such. If you are able to isolate the diaphragm muscles from
the stomach and esophagus then this may help remediate
hiatal hernia. However one must be careful not to stress
that area (the top of the stomach and middle bottom of the
diaphragm area.)
If there is stress or pressure in the throat. larynx, chest, or
throat probably the diaphragm is being activated rather than
relaxed. In general relax the neck, throat, glottis, and
diaphragm allowing the chin to fall into the sternal notch in
jalandhara bandha if it is impelled. There should be no
stress, but rather a feeling of energy, fire, lengthening, and
opening in the middle region. As you exhale, the sternum
will naturally want to drop and the chest collapse, while the
upper back and shoulders will want to round and hunch, but
preventing that occurrence is of greater benefit. Again there
is no gain in lengthening the duration of uddiyana bandha if
it is prolonged to the point where its release finds us
coughing or gasping for breath at the end, but rather find a
happy and pleasurable point to end the practice before any
discomfort.
Uddiyana is best preceded and used simultaneously with
mulabandha which is maintained during uddiyana. Try
jalandhara bandha here also after uddiyana is implemented
paying attention to release jalandhara immediately before
the uddiyana or the pressure and stress will be created at
the larynx and glottis. (See tri-bandha below for more on the
implementation and interaction of the three major bandhas).
Normally uddiyana bandha is used with external breath
retention (bahya kumbhaka), but contrary to some beliefs,
uddiyana bandha can be used with great benefit
with internal breath retention (antar kumbhaka) as well
after it is mastered with external retention (bahya
kumbhaka).
This is used in many pranayama and mudra practices. the
above describes the physical, coarse or gross form of
uddiyana bandha. As an energy lock once this dynamic is
learned with the coarse form, it can be performed entirely
energetically (without the use of muscles or physical
movement).
Benefits: Uddiyana is used in vamana dhauti kriya, nauli
kriya, agni sara kriya, tri-bandha, advanced mudras,
pranayama, meditation, and also while in yoga poses
(especially in forward bends). It increases the tone of the
abdomen and gastric fire stimulating the entire fire chakra
area. Thus the powers of digestion, assimilation, and
immunization are naturally augmented. It opens up
blockages in the manipura chakra and thus connects the
water center (swadhistana chakra) and muladhara with the
air center (anahata chakra). It helps unties the Vishnu
Granthi and thus opens up into Vishnu Granthi. It is very
purifying and forms the basis for nauli kriya (see hatha yoga
kriya section).
It completes/accomplishes mulabandha as a synergist as it
helps lift the perineum. Although usually done in its coarse
form during and after an exhalation, when it is done on
aninhalation it completes jalandhara bandha and is often
used as such in intermediate and advanced pranayama and
mudra practice. It often occurs spontaneously in those
whose natural vital energetics are active (have not become
repressed). When practiced in mudra, pranayama, and
meditation it is usually done sitting in lotus, siddhasana,
vajrasana, or similar sitting poses. For the beginner learning
the the deep coarse form, it is first learned standing. It is a
great purifier of the entire abdomen by itself or when used
as an element of nauli or agni sara.The above coarse form
of uddiyana bandha as classically described is to be
performed after the complete exhale (rechaka) with external
retention (kumbhaka) because this facilitates the most
complete ability of the navel area abdominal fascia to move
inward toward the spine because the organs of the upper
abdomen are drawn upward and out of the way by allowing
the diaphragm to release and lift. This is the standard and
classical uddiyana bandha.
A more subtle aspect of uddiyana is devoid of the actual
physical motion of the navel region being sucked in. Rather
it is entirely an energy lock. Thus there exist mudras,
asanas, and sometimes in tri-bandha that also ask for
uddiyana bandha while we are engaged in the breathing
process and/or also upon the internal in-breath (puraka)
retention (kumbhaka). In the latter case (inhalation)
because the diaphragm is not raised, this internal
kumbhaka form of uddiyana bandha is less deep and gentle
physically (owing to fact that the diaphragm is lowered while
the lung is full) thus resisting the ability of the abdomen to
contract. Here the point is not to try to reproduce the coarse
effect of the full traditional uddiyana bandha, but rather the
benefit from its ability to invigorate, open, and energize the
back, spine, pelvis, and chest drawing the energy up and
in. Uddiyana when applied after in-breath retention without
strain can elicit a powerful if not more subtle effect
especially if we practice it with advanced techniques of
reverse breathing, wavelike breathing, and spine breathing
with the chest elevated. Thus it greatly facilitates jalandhara
bandha as does jalandhara bandha mutually aids uddiyana
bandha.
Advanced or Subtle Energetic (Sukshma Sharira)
Practice:
Another application of uddiyana bandha that is
nontraditional, yet very palatable is to apply uddiyana
bandha at the end of deep inhalation (puraka) drawing the
energy into the heart/lung area. Of course the application
after the inhalation will be less deep than in the traditional
application on the exhalation. Uddiyana bandha is is very
helpful in pranayama and mudra practice while performing
either internal and external kumbhaka (retention of breath)
and in many practices it is implemented continuously. In
both cases mulabandha, swadhi bandha (and in most cases
jalandhara bandha) should be performed at the same time.
The applications of uddiyana bandha after the retention of
the full in-breath (antar kumbhaka) should be practiced only
after proficiency is established of the more traditional type
of uddiyana bandha (which is done with emptying the
breath out at the end of the exhalation in bahya kumbhaka.
After the manipura chakra is washed thoroughly and
opened (after nauli kriya and agnisara dhauti are mastered)
then the pranayama practices are easily accomplished.
Uddiyana bandha greatly facilitates jalandhara bandha and
vice versa, especially when done after the in-breath
retention with the diaphragm lifted. It raises the energy
inward and then upward, and it is curative to disorders of
the small intestines, colon, lower back, kidneys, and
adrenals. Mulabandha greatly completes uddiyana bandha
and is essential to it. Coincidentally uddiyana bandha also
completes mulabandha, i.e., they are mutually synergistic
and performed best simultaneously and spontaneously. All
three major bandhas are indeed mutually synergistic. Later
one learns how to perform these energy transforms without
any motor/muscular movement. It is done by the mind.
Later this is done naturally and spontaneously the doer
being the divine Self through prana shakti, kriya shakti, chit
shakti, or kundalini shakti.
Caution: Avoid any tension in the larynx, glottis, diaphragm,
and throat. Avoid the compression of the upper abdomen
organs that normally lie in the solar plexus area directly
below the sternum such as the pancreas, liver, stomach
area. The major fault is the creation of tension in the area
which is to be avoided. The second major fault is to round
the back (also to be avoided). The back and torso rather
should be kept elongated through the intelligent application
of mulabandha In other words, the pelvis does not tilt in
retroversion, rather the pubic bone keeps its distance from
the navel. The heart remains lifted up off the abdomen,
rather than collapse or fold into it. In other words, we want
SPACE and energy created in the abdomen as the navel
goes toward the spine. While the diaphragm rises up into
the pleural cavity, the abdomen should not collapse, thus
creating the space for the navel to fold back and in toward
the spine forming a concavity of the abdomen. This creation
of spaciousness of the abdomen and lift of the heart region,
while the back remains long feels like a lift and hence the
name uddiyana bandha Thus for the coarse uddiyana
bandha the sequence or rhythm of the flow in one fell
swoop is:
1) Stand with the feet shoulder wide or wider.
2) Mulabandha
3) Bend the knees with the feet shoulder width apart.
4) Check the mulabandha so that the sacrum and tailbone
drop down away from the navel keeping the torso and back
long.
5) Bend forward slightly at the pelvis (anteversion or dog
arch) so that the lower back does not round at first and the
torso remains long.
6) Place the hands above the knees with the fingers
pointing inward, elbows slightly bent, and utilize the arms to
help raise the chest even more off the pelvis creating space
in the belly. Feel the openness and length of the torso in
front.
7) Exhale rapidly all the breath through the nose drawing
inward and upward from the lower dan dien (hara) while
releasing the anteversion of the pelvis (or lumbar arch).
Allow a deep cavern to form in the belly. Here jalandhara
bandha helps lift the ribs up and off of the pelvis helping
creating spaciousness in the belly. A feeling of lightness,
emptiness, and roominess is created lengthwise in the
abdomen. This is called "making room".
8) Empty the breath out in external retention (bahya
kumbhaka) as a prayer.
9) Entertain/retain the bahya kumbhaka. Here the bahya
kumbhaka and the uddiyana bandha, mulabandha, and
jalandhara bandha act as one.
10) Release the bandhas before there is a strong feeling to
gasp air -- and before any sensation of stress or strain
allowing the air to be sucked back into the lungs. The
bandhas are slowly released as the air slowly comes back
in while the diaphragm comes back down into the torso, and
the navel comes back forward (further allowing the
diaphragm to come further down while a deeper inhalation
is allow, Keep the back and torso long while maintaining
mulabandha.
11) Let the breath come back to normal and then repeat as
above.
12) Finish by standing straight, inhaling raising the arms
over head, looking upward with the gaze, and leaning
backwards in slight extension while the pelvis is allowed to
slightly move into cat tilt (retroversion).
This gross physical form of uddiyana bandha practiced daily
for three or four rounds on an empty stomach can be
mastered in a couple of weeks (plus or minus). Agni sara
kriya, nauli and lauliki kriya are then easily accomplished
acting as synergists with uddiyana bandha.

Jalandhara Bandha: Vishuddi (Throat) Chakra and
Rudra Granthi
This is the throat energy valve preventing the energy from
being lost through the throat chakra and redirecting it
inward and up. It connects the head with the rest of the
body via the throat chakra as the sternal notch and chin
appear to move together (connect) hence the misnomer,
called the chin lock. Please notice most anybody can force
the chin to touch the sternum, but that is not jalandhara
bandha. Such attempts will most likely be
counterproductive, creating unwanted tension, blockage, or
pressure in the throat, neck, head, or chest. The best sign
of effective bandha practice is to ascertain whether or not
the energy is freely moving throughout the region (above
and below it). That knowledge requires subtle awareness
which in turn is effected through ever increasingly more
subtle practice. That means that the awareness becomes
more subtle as the experience deepens. Thus, please
approach J alandhara bandha as a release of tension at the
throat and neck regions. The muscular release is the coarse
part, while the neurophysiological, organ, glandular, and
energetic flow is to form the primary focus.
Physically the fascia at the back of the neck elongates
creating magical or open space. Simultaneously the front of
the throat softens as the back of the neck elongates. The
jaw sinks. Simultaneously the back of the occiput moves
back as the heart moves toward the chin and the forehead
moves forward. The pivot point is the top center of the
palate The scapula is allowed to sink toward the pelvis
while front of the shoulders and armpits raise spirally. The
entire back elongates..
No tension at all should be created in the throat or neck,
rather stress, tension, rigidity and hardness in these regions
should be released. A buoyant sensitivity should be a
positive indicator. When the tension/blockage is released,
then the energy is liberated, transmitted, and made
available. Energetically the nadis (energy channels unknot
and open allowing for heart consciousness to expand. Here
the outward dissipative flow of the throat chakra in terms of
misdirected or dammed up energy ceases and re-
channeled inwardly. A natural expression of this bandha is
mouna (silence), fasting, a quiescence of the monkey-mind
chattering - a quiescence, fulfillment, and the activation of
moral courage devoid of blame or hatred.
The key to the physical motion which introduces us to its
energetic, emotional, and spiritual components is the
motion is that where the tip of the jaw is allowed to drop
toward the rising ribs, as the top end of the throat below the
jaw at the hyoid bone is sucked upward and backward
(posterior and superior) towards the occiput as the occiput
simultaneously raises and moves posterior. The crown
moves upward as the top cervical vertebra lengthen and
reestablishes it natural curve. The top of the scapula as well
as the seventh cervical vertebra do not lift but rather remain
down (inferior) conjoined with the thoracic vertebra.
An unfortunate tendency is to rush the bandha by allowing
the back of the skull to fall forward, rather please let the
back of the skull remain back (posterior) allowing for its
rotation/pivot in the center of the upper soft palate The mid
scapulae stay down toward the pelvis at all times, but the
very front top of the shoulders (attached to the collar bone)
should raise (especially for those who are kyphotic
(chronically hunched forward). Thus the entire chest to
head interconnected fascia and energetic patterns are
affected.
General Discussion: The center of the action is thus a
rotation/pivot at the palate, a rotation at the hyoid bone (but
most people have yet to become conscious of this bone), as
well as the posterior and upward movement at the root of
the tongue. Since many of these are inner and subtle, we
will mainly describe jalandhara bandha in coarse but
common terms and landmarks like chin, chest, occiput, and
so forth. Although this movement can be broken down and
learned at first sequentially, it all moves as an
interconnected and unitive free flow-- as an un-spiraling
motion.
The neck and throat area are normally jammed packed with
many vital nerves, veins, arteries, glands, passageways,
organs, (such as the thyroid, voice box, trachea, vertebra
column, etc.) providing not only nerve signals to and from
from the rest of the body, but also oxygen, liquid, and food
from the nose and mouth to the lungs and abdomen as well.
Specifically the larynx, pharynx, voice box, cervical spinal
vertebrae, spinal cord, thyroid, and many other nerves and
glands share this small and often busy throat/neck region. It
is the task of the yogi not to create tension, blockages,
imbalances, stress, or more rigidity, but rather release such,
creating space for natural evolutionary and harmonious flow
to occur. Here we are creating open space and energy
flow. Other wise such activity will further aggravate or
interfere with the free flowing energy exchange which
characterizes this vital region on a physical level and the
mental/emotional energetics on the more subtle energetic
levels. J alandhara bandha insures this energetic
harmonious free flow and at the same time prevents its
dissipation.
This is the seat of verbal (voice vibration) and articulate
expression (through the connection via the collarbones,
arms, and shoulders, arms, and hands). This the chakra
where thought communicates with the rest of the body via
speech and action. This bandha connects the energy to the
head (ajna chakra) .
General Directions: If you are sitting, the direction of the
movement is such that the leading subtle focus should be at
the center of the top palate The subtle indicators are that
occiput moves back and slightly up (back and up, back and
up), the neck gets long as a result but natural curves are
not stressed), The parietal and sphenoid bones rote
accordingly as base of the occiput is moving back) and the
chin (front tip of the mandible) is moving in toward the
sternal notch, while the collar bones and FRONT TOP of
the shoulders and humerus (at the glenohumeral joint)
move upward and backwards simultaneously. At the same
time the mid-scapulae move downward toward the pelvis.
The most common mistake is that a beginner thinks that the
chin must move down. No, rather just let the jaw drop open,
and let the rest of these parts move. Eventually if all the
resisting fascia become released, the chin will rest on the
sternal notch by itself while the directive force comes from
an opening at the heart, neck, and cranium.
In order to prevent the chin from moving away from the
sternal notch (as the sternal notch is moving up toward the
chin), try to expand your inner awareness to include the
back of the neck and occiput. The occiput should not move
downward toward the shoulders, but rather the scapula and
BACK middle of the shoulders remain rotated down (away
from the occiput). This maintains a long distance from the
ears the top of the scapula. Thus the motion is curved
like a spiral from the top front of the shoulder girdle
upward, and around bank down toward the tail bone. This
motion will also relax and elongate the posterior muscles of
the neck. As the sternal notch raises toward the chin, the
back of lower neck moves posterior and caudad (toward the
tailbone). The jaw once dropped is then sucked back
toward the spine as the top end of the throat below the jaw
at the hyoid bone, moves backward and upwards (posterior
and superior) towards the top of the cervical vertebrae. The
yogi will notice that as the jaw drops by itself, the cranium
actually rises upward in regard to the torso.
To go over this movement again from a different angle, one
is encouraged to loosen up the shoulder girdle by allowing
the head of the humerus to lift back and spiral in the
glenohumeral socket simultaneously as the front top of the
shoulders at the glenohumeral joint rotate upward and
backward taking the head of the humerus actively along
with it. The ribs also simultaneously raise up off the
abdomen in synch with the lift of the front top of the
shoulders at the glenohumeral joint and sternal notch. This
way the front of the cervical vertebrae do not become
contracted. Also the fascia of the throat is not engaged (it is
relaxed), but rather it is the shoulder girdle that is in motion
in relation to the chin (the chin remains fixed). So contrary
to some common beliefs the throat does not flex, at least in
the important beginning stages. In order to prevent tension
or resistance here, allow the chin to lift up and fall back
down in yes/no motions as the bandha proceeds. Also allow
the chin to move left and right as well as front and back
and/or tilt and spiral.
As a preparation simply observe the bobbing motion of the
head and neck while performing three part or yogic
breathing especially observing the effect of the natural
effortless rising upward of the chest as the top ribs raise
upward upon the filling of the upper chest with air. Does
J alandhara bandha occur on the inhale as the ribs and
heart rise and released on the exhale naturally?
To begin then one may first make sure that the fascia of the
neck and throat are relaxed by raising up the occiput and
the chin simultaneously. this is just a way to be sure that the
neck and throat are well lengthened and the joints
distracted removing tension in both the front of the throat
and the back of the neck.
It is also cogent that neither the chin nor the occiput move
"forward" overall as they eventually wind up raising
skybound (or cephalic) in this distraction. If anything the
chin moves inward (toward the center of the body) as it is
allowed to relax and thus seemingly drop. Therefore it is
important to allow the chin to curve inward and then
upward toward the upper cervical spine)) without sinking the
occiput down and conversely a simultaneous lift of the
occiput without sinking the chin downward (toward the feet)
or forward. Thus the occiput raises up off the shoulders
while the front of the throat elongates at the same time. The
root of the tongue at the top of the throat actually moves up
and away from sternal notch! Check the jaw, cheek, tongue,
ears, eyebrows, and eye balls and relax them as well.
This is the first and most important stage that is preparatory
to jalandhara bandha proper. This move is analogous to
forward bends like uttanasana or paschimottanasana where
the flexion is at the hip not the back. In the second step
after we have become conscious of the free flowing energy
of the throat and neck by lengthening the fascia and
releasing all tension and constriction, then we can allow the
aforesaid motion of guiding the curving of the front of the
upper chest, the sternal notch, glenohumeral joint, etc.,
upward, around and then back down toward the tailbone in
the aforesaid spiral motion actively moving the head of the
humerus back in the glenohumeral socket and upward
allowing the sternal notch to eventually move to meet the
chin. This will open up the upper back, neck and throat, not
close it down or contract it (also in this regard see Hri
bandha below).
As an adjunct inflating the top front ribs raising them
upwards simultaneously preventing the chin from fleeing
and the back of the shoulders from rising. So the chest rises
to meet the chin, the chin does not need to drop to meet the
sternal arch. Because this movement is not linear, but
rather sequentially curved and spiral, describing it in words
is necessarily non-linear. So again the occiput remains long
from the back of the shoulders throughout (thus preventing
the back of the shoulders from rising in relation), while
simultaneously the back of the scapula rest downward
toward the sacrum.
The top of the humerus (upper arms) acts as an important
synergist as it first moves backward (posterior) in the gleno-
humeral socket and then upward along with the front of the
shoulder girdle moves upward. Again we do NOT hunch the
BACK of the shoulders forward to get the chin to rest on the
sternum, but rather we hunch up and then sequentially
move back (lift) the FRONT of the upper shoulder girdle
(upper ribs, upper sternum, collar bone, gleno-humeral
joints, and humerus). This naturally also increases our
capacity to ingest more air as well. Taking a deep breath
here while inflating the top ribs adds to the lift.
So again let us avoid the common, but mistaken,
conceptualization of jalandhara bandha as bringing the chin
in toward the sternal arch. Rather it is far more efficacious
to visualize it as bringing the sternal arch (along with it the
front upper shoulder girdle) upward to meet the chin as the
chin curves inward and upward, the back of the lower neck
moves back while the root of the tongue moves cephalic
(up) away from the chin. The jaw is drawn back toward the
spine as the top end of the throat below the jaw at the hyoid
bone as well as the root of the tongue move backward and
upwards (posterior and superior) towards the occiput as the
occiput itself moves upward and posterior. More subtly the
corresponding spiral at the sphenoid, parietal, temporal,
and other cranial bones are also balanced and brought into
alignment.
This also ensures that the heart moves forward
unobstructed (See Hri bandha), sinking the back of scapula,
and floating the back kidney points at T12 backward and
upward (as the upper ribs raise off the torso). This occurs
by allowing the upper thoracic column and ribs to elongate
and extend while the center of the sternum opens, thus
relaxing and elongating any pre-existing tightness in the
shoulder girdle, chest, and neck muscles. Since chronic
tight and tense neck, throat, chest, and upper back muscles
are the normal property of the average person, attempting
to force jalandhara bandha without adequate relaxation first
may be counterproductive aggravating neck, throat,
shoulder, or upper back tension or strain. But if one
visualizes jalandhara as a relaxation, lengthening, an action
that creates extra space-- as a process of softening into the
jalandhara bandha while seeking out and augmenting the
energy flow and openness in this important chakra, then
only benefit will ensue.



In such asanas such as halasana (plough), shoulder stand
(sarvangasana), and bridge (setu bandhu), a chin lock may
be inadvertently forced as the chin is mistakenly jutted into
the sternum while the neck may be stretched too long or
flattened. Such is is not desirable.
Here it is not only valuable to keep in mind the action of
jalandhara bandha keeping the chest open by lifting the
sternal notch (top of the sternum) toward the chin (not the
chin toward the sternum) while also the entire sternum lifts
up at the same while allowing the front top of the shoulders
and humerus to move up and around and to the back in a
circular type motion at the same time. This motion of
jalandhara bandha should be active (actively engaged)
throughout such poses. In these poses (shoulderstand,
plough, and bridge), the tendency then is to jut the chin too
far forward and toward the sternum.
That tendency must be avoided by allowing the back of the
neck from C6 through the occiput to lengthen, focusing on
maintaining the lift at the sternal notch upward toward the
pelvis in this inverted situation so that the chin rests
superior to the sternal notch not on the sternum itself. Again
the key here is that the top end of the throat below the jaw
at the hyoid bone, moves backward and upwards (posterior
and superior) in forward flexion and posterior/superior
motion of the hyoid. For this to work there should be
freedom at the atlas occiput junction.
It is likewise useful while practicing backward bends such
as cobra with jalandhara bandha, which work on expanding
the chest, to bring the collarbone/upper sternum up toward
the chin and with it the front of the upper humerus raises
and moves back into the gleno-humeral socket, helping to
extend the upper thoracic vertebra while activating
jalandhara bandha here as well. In these poses we should
emphasize that the chin does not raise upward lifting up
away from the sternal notch by jamming the back of the
neck, but lifts up only when C7 and the posterior scapula
remain long off the ears and occiput. So in jalandhara
bandha the heart never collapses or sinks -- the posterior
scapula never raises, and the upper front humerus never
moves in anterior and medially. here the hyoid and the
occiput meet and hence jalandhara bandha is similar to
mulabandha where the pubis and tailbone do not move
apart as well. Again the key here is that the top end of the
throat below the jaw at the hyoid bone, moves backward
and upwards (posterior and superior). This is similar to the
skull loop taught by J ohn friend's anusara yoga.
Shoulder openers, arm grabs in back, chest openers, and
the like also effect the action of jalandhara bandha.
Similarly the correct action of jalandhara bandha is a
synergist that makes such chest opening effortless, easy,
joyous, and natural without compromising any other part of
the body.
In other words entirely avoid the common mistake of trying
to force the chin down onto an already restricted chest area
or of straining the muscles of an already flattened neck,
rather allow for the neck's natural "S" shaped curve for
maximum function while allowing for the subtle release at
the atlas/axis and the occiput.
J alandhara connects the head with the heart basically
allowing the energy to flow by opening up the connecting
throat chakra. It thus helps lift stuck energy from the lower
chakras through the throat and especially into the talu
chakra (in the back brain) and also to the ajna (third eye)
region. This region is bordered at the lower end by the
thyroid and thymus glands and at the upper end by the
hypothalamus, medulla oblongata, CV4, and the entire back
brain. Connecting the heartmind it balances the autonomic
and central nervous systems allowing body/mind harmony
to flow freely in all directions. Thus the tensions between
the body and the mind are ameliorated. Because of the
chronic dysfunctional nature of the separation between
head and heart a preexisting chronic tension is slowly
remediated (it can not be successfully rushed or forced)
through the efficacy of a practice that creates increased
energy flow synchronizing the respiration and sinus heart
rhythms, while neuro-muscularly lifting the heart forward as
the upper chest moves upward. Like all bandhas it
reestablishes inward flow through the subtle, but causal
energy body.
As the root of the tongue (hyoid) raises away from the chin,
the space above the crown should always be visualized as
open, unobstructed, and clear as well. This ensures that the
energy from the crown to the heart stays open. There is no
strain to the neck but rather the distance between C7 and
the occiput lengthens considerably. There should not be
any tug/stretch of the fascia below C6. This is similar to
saying that the top posterior scapula remains caudad. The
energy remains free flowing.
Another point of observation is that the center of the armpits
will raise up and move backwards in a spiral motion as the
front of the upper shoulder girdle rises up and around, while
the backside of the upper scapula remains caudal or
depressed (down toward the tailbone). The upper humerus
at the ball of the humerus rises in front and moves
backward in the shoulder socket (posterior), rather than
being hunched forward or medial. The lower ribs behind the
kidneys do not sink or roll back but rather lift straight up
toward the skull as the ribs fill. The space in the pectoral
region releases tension and becomes alive. The full benefits
of jalandhara bandha are realized in pranayama, pratyhara,
dharana, and mudra practice where the these motions are
completed.
In pranayama practice, jalandhara bandha is normally
activated immediately preceding a full inhalation (antar
kumbhaka where the breath is held in) and/or at the end of
a full exhalation (called bahya kumbhaka where the breath
is held outside the body). In the bahya kumbhaka,
jalandhara bandha is less pronounced because the
additional lift of the upper ribs provided by inhalation is not
present.
However kumbhaka pranayama (stopping the breath
willfully) is not advised until all the preliminary pranayama
practices have become mastered. If you have developed a
degree of sensitivity to the energy body, you can
manipulate the breath only if it feels natural, gentle,
unforced, and spontaneous.
Do not perform pranayama with retention (kumbhaka) if you
are suffering from the residual effects of whiplash,
otherwise it is an excellent exercise for the entire
body/mind. As a preparation simply observe the bobbing
motion of the head and neck while performing three part or
yogic breathing especially observing the effect of the rising
chest as the top ribs raise upward upon the filling of the
upper chest with air. To get its energetic effects this
bobbing motion can be done very subtly almost
unperceivable to an observer, but yet containing the
necessary energy.
As mentioned elsewhere some teachers teach the use of
jalandhara bandha as the major operating mechanism in
kumbhaka (retaining the flow of the breath (prana) so that
the epiglottis is closed by jalandhara bandha preventing any
air from escaping or entering the top of the trachea). Others
state that it is performed by pressing the esophagus against
the larynx thus closing off the wind passageways this way.
Using jalandhara bandha in this way may cause
unnecessary strain and is not recommended (unless your
personal teacher has instructed you to do so and your
practice is being monitored by a master). The simple act of
swallowing will also close off the glottis preventing the
breath to pass through the lungs. Try doing this (swallowing
after an inhalation) while embracing the prana inside after a
full inhalation. Then direct the diaphragm top press further
down into the belly while keeping the chest raised in
jalandhara bandha. Feel that effect and relax.
Some pressure may be felt in the lungs. If the diaphragm is
simultaneously allowed to press down into the abdomen
indeed oxygen may be more easily utilized, but again it is
far safer not to create any pressure at all anywhere in the
body without an experienced teacher or without a highly
developed sensitivity to the the life energy (prana).
Rather it is safer and very effective to not use jalandhara
bandha to close off the respiration at the glottis, but rather
allow the breath to raise upper pharynx behind the nasal
septum upward to create light pressure under the third eye
region. Imagine light and prana moving into the third eye.
The nasal passages themselves are often closed off
utilizing khechari mudra or Vishnu mudra, but here again be
cautious that the closing of the vayu (winds) not be held at
the nose, but directed behind the nasal passages and
superior toward the skull, where the khechari mudra
normally is directed. If the tongue does not lift the underside
of skull behind the third eye, let the breath give it rise. In
advanced pranayama this direction of the energy (prana)
are performed through non-physical mentation and energy
techniques (through the breath, the nadis, and
visualization).
One may also be aware that the energy of jalandhara (as in
allowing the energy of the heart and body to connect with
the head) may be called forth in almost any pose. A
common remedial effect is that it prevents the jutting
upward of the chin, the resultant pinching/compression at
the back of the neck, the opening of the upper thoracic
spine, and elimination of the mental/emotional tendency to
raise the chin and nose up in arrogance, avoidance, pride,
or fear. Coincidentally it prevents chronic sunken chin as it
tones and balances the entire throat region.
Thus jalandhara bandha can be utilized in most asanas
while breathing continuously in order to relax the throat,
lengthen the back of neck, and open and facilitate the
energy flow lifting it through the throat chakra. J alandhara,
consciously implemented, balances the energy preventing
sunken chests and jaws while preventing haughtiness and
arrogance.
It is certain that the scalene muscle (running from the back
of the cervical vertebrae to the front of the top two ribs) as
well as the sterno-cleido-mastoid (SCM), and upper
trapezius muscles, the pectoral muscles, teres, pectoral,
and other muscle groups which are involved helping to
open up the apex of the lungs and allow more prana to
penetrate into the system and perhaps at the same time
allowing the chest to raise further up. The pectorals
muscles release while the teres muscles may become
activated to aid in the entire inhalation process. Such
comes into fruition through effective pranayama (see traya
bandha below).
Like the other bandhas, jalandhara bandha is an energy
valve (blocking the outward dissipating flow of energy while
redirecting the life force back inward to regenerate and
irrigate the internal nadis and circuits), which we at first get
in touch with by experientially exploring through gross
physical movements. This has physical, energetic, and
mental/emotional positive effects upon the entire psycho-
neurophysiology.
After practice has matured, such is best allowed to occur
naturally and spontaneously once we clear out the
obstructions in the body/mind, opening up the nadis,
forming new positive neuro-physiological tendencies, while
reclaiming sensitivity, awareness, and intelligence in these
dynamics, so that it becomes a spontaneous expression of
the natural continuous eternal process of integration/union
of shakti/shiva.
J alandhara bandha is also associated with untying the
Vishnu Granthi and thus opening up the Vishnu Loka or the
Sambhogakaya by helping raise the energy from the lower
chakras connecting into the heart as it works very well with
mulabandha and uddiyana bandha in this respect. As such
J alandhara bandha helps draw the energy upward through
the heart and throat. It also allows the bindu (neuro-
endocrine substances at the brain) to melt down through
the throat to the herat and rest of the body. However
J alandhara is associated specifically with opening the
Rudra Loka at the third eye (ajna chakra) as it frees the
energy blockages at the throat allowing it to enter talu
chakra and ajna chakra and upward through the upper
Brahmarandhra (hole at crown of the head) where Siva
resides.
Picture shows the bregma fontanelle in front and the
lambda fontanelle in back.

Performance: One may well visualize that center of rotation
for jalandhara involves the lifting of the heart toward the
head as the hyoid bone located at the top front of the throat
moves upward (superior) and back (posterior). The head of
the humerus helps lift the glenohumeral joint upward and
backward along with the rising of the sternal notch upper
ribs, collar bones, and armpit chest which all move upward
and backward, while the posterior scapula rests downwards
(caudad). The chin relaxes downward and inward, but that
motion does not come from a rounding of the mid-cervical
(hence the "S" curve of the neck is not reversed. The
sternal notch is brought up toward the hyoid but the hyoid is
moving to the crown. The chin simply relaxes inward and
upward in relation to the throat. The scapula remains
resting downward lengthening away from the ears and the
occiput. The back of the lower neck is brought further
backward and and prevented from moving upward while the
root of the tongue (near the hyoid) raises upward away from
the sternal notch.
As the upper front shoulder girdle is raised upward and then
revolved backward (in a spiral motion) toward the back of
the occiput, the heart moves forward (hri bandha) as the
armpit chest spirals upward toward the occiput. Relax the
throat and lengthen the neck so the chin can naturally go
down and in. The distance between the occiput stays long
in relation to the top back of the shoulders. Think heart lift
rather than neck stretch.



Hint: Create space at the back of the occiput throughout
both the throat and neck. Allow for spirals, tilts, and
eccentric motion as the neck realigns and releases. The
chest should feel more open while the top back of the
scapula moves inferior (caudad) and anterior in as the back
of the occiput raises and moves back (posterior and
superior). Simultaneously the heart is lifted as it is moved
forward, the back of the lower ribs lift upward (kidney's lift)
as the front of the floating ribs move posterior and tilt. See
to it that the jaw, cheeks, tongue, throat, are not tense or
clenched and all the other subtle joints of the cranium neck,
throat and chest can relax through this motion. Many people
have chronic TMJ problems which jalandhara bandha may
correct over time, but who may may experience strange
sensations in jalandhara bandha until the jaw unwinds.
One may visualize that the entire back of the skull is being
lifted toward the stars from a string attached at the lambda
point (the topmost point where the parietal bone and occiput
chest area as well as the top of the
chest is filled with prana. If we allow this natural motion of
meet) and then from there rotated forward. There are many
very subtle motions in jalandhara bandha (especially
difficult for those who have chronic neck tension). A subtle
but salient point is in allowing the rotation and spiraling of
the back of the skull without allowing the occiput (the cranial
base) to move forward. Rather the occiput remains back
(posterior) and up (superior). The hyoid bone as it rotates in
forward flexion lifting inward and upward the upper front
throat area which abides near the root of the tongue. (See
diagram number ???)
In yogic diaphragmatic three part breathing the head bobs
up slightly as the entire
the chest filling with prana to continue to move upward we
activate the natural motion of jalandhara bandha
spontaneously. In classic breath retention, the jalandhara
bandha is implemented after the breath has been stilled
(last) . In classic pranayama, mulabandha is implemented
first. Most of the time uddiyana is performed in between.
Thus jalandhara bandha is applied to cap off the retention
of the breath classically. It is normally released before the
breath is resumed. Classically on exhalation we release
jalandhara first, implement uddiyana bandha, and release
mulabandha last. Classically on inhalation uddiyana bandha
is completely relaxed, mulabandha contains the prana at
the lower centers (implemented next) and then at the top of
the inhalation the jalandhara bandha is implemented.
However as energy valves the bandhas can be
implemented all the time. The synchronization of jalandhara
bandha in relation to the other bandhas and the breath is
described in detail below in the section on the three
bandhas (traya- bandha).
The above bone/muscle presentation of jalandhara bandha
describes the outside mechanical form. Internally during
breath pauses (kumbhaka) it i soften recommended to close
observing the swallowing process, thus exercising and
ath inhalation, retention
(kumbhaka), and then swallowing implementing jalandhara
pressure at all in that region but rather frill the entire
the glottis so no air can go in and out of the lungs. When
the glottis is relaxed the throat (pharynx) opens to the lungs
facilitating breathing, but when we swallow food and drink
the glottis is closed thus closing the common passageway
of the pharynx off from the lungs (larynx) and opens the
pharynx to the esophagus and hence the stomach instead.
This is the process of glutination. Hence we can become
more aware of the full process of jalandhara bandha by
strengthening the glottis allowing the air to pause without
any tightness or constriction.
This can be best observed after a full three part
diaphragmatic yogic bre
bandha and consequently pressing down the diaphragm
into the belly. This has a corresponding nervous system
action which tones the vagus nerve. Whether or not
jalandhara bandha is preformed with a closed glottis or not,
mentally and emotionally both the powerful breathing and
eating dynamics and their equally powerful emotions are
affected by jalandhara bandha. (See diagram number ???)
That is the classic description, however one may desire to
experiment not closing off the glottis or creating any
windpipe to the area behind the nasal cavity pressing gently
in back of the third eye with uplifting prana pressing
upwards. On the exhalation one can feel the wind press
gently against the third eye opening behind the nasal cavity
utilizing ujjayi pranayama.

Cautions: Do not create stress in the neck, throat, jaw,
face, eyes, palate, shoulders, or anywhere else. Let it find a
groove. Especially avoid allowing the chin to drop forward
and down or the top of the neck or skull comes forward.
Rather keep the top of the neck below the occiput within its
natural "S" shaped curve, backward (posterior), and long,
allowing the back of the occiput (above the atlas) to swivel
up as the chin moves down (rather than forward). Avoid
collapsing the upper thoracic vertebrae as well. It is
suggested to breathe fully when doing bridge, shoulder
stand, halasana, knee to ear pose, and other asanas that
force an extreme jalandhara bandha, but always avoid any
constrictions/tightness of the throat as well as the breath. If
you already have a flat neck (less than 10% of the
population), then make an effort that the normal "S" shaped
curve of the neck is achieved by making an effort to bring
C1 and C2 posterior as the chin moves down and inward.
The latter will correct a flat neck at the upper cervical spine.
Benefits: J alandhara bandha tonifies the throat chakra,
neck, shoulder, and arm regions. J alandhara bandha is a
great aid in pranayama which in turn is a great boost to
pratyhara and meditation practice.
It can release and tone all the fascia running through the
neck, chest and head including the scalene muscle (running
from the back of the cervical vertebrae to the front of the top
two ribs) as well as the sterno-cleido-mastoid (SCM), upper
trapezius muscles, the pectoral muscles, teres, and others.
It can correct TMJ and flat neck problems when performed
with sensitivity and awareness. J alandhara bandha helps
pump the energy through the throat chakra into the crown
and keeps the energy that has risen to the crown, third eye,
and talu chakras from sinking down, leaking, or being
dissipated, so it may continue to circulate in the chakra
system. Like most bandhas it accomplishes pratyhara (here
at throat chakra) bringing cleansing the corrupted energy in
the throat area and arms and integrating it by bringing it
back into the central channel. It remediates the tendency to
jut up of the chin with resultant and cervical vertebral
compression. It relieves pressure at the cervical spine and
relaxes tension at the throat region. In yoga therapy it is
specifically recommended in treating cases of high blood
pressure. It aligns the cranial bones by adjusting the
sphenoid bone (which rests on the cranial base inside the
occiput. It frees the atlas/axis alignment and movement. It
affects thyroid function and enhances the voice. It helps
open the chest and heart and relaxes the shoulders. Thus it
is beneficial to any adverse conditions that effect the upper
torso, neck, and head. It counteracts tendencies toward
arrogance, snottiness, uppitiness, aversion, and other such
affectations of pride and ignorance. It lifts the heart and
brings forth divine will, its expression, and hence moral
courage is one effect.
The Asterion (In Greek, Ruler of the Stars). In medicine,
the craniometric point behind the ear where the parietal,
temporal, and occipital bones meet

Spiritual and Mental Effects:
J alandhara bandha is an essential aid in pranayama,
pratyhara, and dharana practices. It keeps physical and
pranic circulation open between expressive/manifestation
center (throat and heart) as well as between the ajna
chakra (third eye) and throat, hence it is the connection
between heart and mind -- body and soul. It is synergistic in
conjunction with mulabandha and uddiyana bandha as tri-
bandha at anytime, especially in pranayama, and very
helpful before and during meditation in order to draw the
attention and concentration back into the central column
and energy body, thus facilitating pranayama, pratyhara,
and dharana simultaneously. As the connector between the
head and heart, practice can be expedited by
understanding the function of kurma nadi and the akasha
(ether). See Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (chapter III) for more.
J alandhara bandha not only opens and activates the
vishuddha chakra which is associated with the expression
of Divine will and hence moral courage, while completing
the conjunction of anahata chakra (heart) and ajna chakra
(third eye) fully activating the ajna opening, but jalandhara
also unties the knot at the Rudra Granthi thus providing the
gateway into the formless Rudra Loka (realm of
Siva/Maheshvara) or Dharmakaya (the primordial formless
Buddha) hooking the energy through the last great granthi
(knot) into the crown center (sahasrara).
The Sphenoid Bone: Wings of Hermes


Traya (Three fold) Bandha (sometimes called Maha
Bandha)
General warnings about pranayama and bandha
practice:
1) Never feel forced. Yoga should be gentle and healing
2) Stop the practice immediately if a headache, pain in
the heart region, or dizziness occurs.
Pranayama is very powerful and causal. it links the
autonomic nervous system with the conscious central
nervous system and is capable of achieving far
reaching body/mind results. Being powerful, it can not
be approached mechanically, unfeelingly, and without
sensitivity without bringing forth disaster, just as a
match should not be played with by a child.
Classically tri-banda or bandhas three (traya-bandha) is the
utilization of the three major bandhas of mulabandha,
uddiyana bandha, and jalandhara bandha within an overall
conjointly sequenced order. Classically mulabandha is
usually activated first, then uddiyana, then lastly
jalandhara, but as we will see all three can happen as a
spontaneous and mutually synergistic wavelike motion.
The general directions have been to "hold" the bandha. The
word, hold, can be misleading because it can lead to
tension or imply force. It is better to think of implementation
of a bandha as release of tension. If we release the
bandha, we are releasing attention/focus. Most often we
release jalandhara first and mulabandha last (the reverse
order of application). This is a good rule to learn at first, with
the foreknowledge that all these rules are artificial, they are
to be broken as one advances and authentic wisdom
through functional and effective practice supplants mere
rules of thumb. Also the advanced student should realize
that there exist many variations of the bandhas in
conjunction with the various pranayama, mudra and
visualization techniques. For example we have already
previously stated that an energetic mulabandha can and
should be implemented all the time (the tailbone and legs
grounded), but in the beginning the bandhas are learned in
their coarse external form and in a sequential order. Indeed
it assumed that the beginner has already learned the hatha
yoga kriyas, especially aswini mudra, vajroli mudra, sthula
basti, agni sara, and nauli kriya before traya bandha is
presented.
At the end of this chapter we have introduced additional
adjunctive bandhas, so while utilizing these additional
bandhas a rule of thumb is to apply the bandhas from the
bottom up, and release them from the top down. Thus first
mula, swadhi, nabhi, uddiyana, hri, jalandhara, and ajna
bandhas -- in this case the order is usually best initiated
from a firm base upward. If performed energetically the
bandhas need not be a strain at all and can be held
indefinitely, however such a presentation is not the classical
written presentation (which is the gross and external).
Especially jalandhara bandha is only given during
kumbhaka (retention) and never held while the breath is
moving i.e., it is released at the end of retention before the
breath starts to move. In this section we will discuss
Here we will limit our discussion to the various
implementations of tri-bandha which is a very valuable
application for pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, mudra, and
meditation practice. It cures both a wandering mind and a
sleepy mind (both diseases of either rajas or tamas). Try
doing all the bandhas all together in the following sequence,
not only during meditation, asana, and pranayama practice,
but even during the day while walking, sitting, and working.
Again the general rule of thumb is to activate mulabandha
first. Most of the time activate uddiyana second or as a
adjunct with mulabandha. Then jalandhara lastly. It is a
practical rule to release jalandhara first and mulabandha
last. As we reiterate often the subtle form of mulabandha
can be done anytime/all the time (in other words we do not
release mulabandha at all). It doesn't ever have to be
released as it forms the base of the pelvis. In pranayama
proper it contains the energy at the base so that it is
directed into the central channel.
Likewise in classical pranayama jalandhara is usually not
recommended while the breath is moving. It is only applied
during retention (kumbhaka) as it designed there to move
the energy between the head and the feet again utilizing
breath retention. So we necessarily distinguish between
using the bandhas conjointly with breath retention and
utilizing the bandhas in asana, pranayama (without breath
retention), dharana, and everyday life.
When not doing formal breath retention the preceding
energetic approach to apply the bandhas as opening up
these connection points 24/7 is recommended, as this will
prevent any restriction of the breath, energy, movement, or
consciousness at any of the energetic centers.
So here we to point out the existence of a more subtle and
energetic jalandhara bandha (as well as the other
bandhas), which also can be applied anywhere/all the time.
For example, the subtle motion of jalandhara bandha can
be applied in any asana so that one who may have the
tendency to jut out their too far forward and upward (which
causes an undesirable compression at the back of the
neck) will benefit by bringing the chin inward and down
toward the throat and at tech same time creating more
space between the occiput and the top of the shoulders.
This movement of jalandhara bandha can be used to
alleviate neck tension when done with a soft throat, but if
one already has a flat neck, a reversed curvature at the
neck, or other abnormalities of the s like curve at the
cervical region, then more customized directions are
suitable, thus the above can only be stated as a general
rule of thumb. For example many people tend to compress
the back of their neck in backward bends, but not all while
some people may overly flatten the back of their necks in
sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and halasana (plough
pose), but their are many exceptions. In this regard a a
"good" teacher may be a reasonable substitute until the
lacking "self knowledge" is attained. This is true for all kriya,
asana, bandha, pranayama, and mudra practice.
Tribandha taken conjointly is very valuable for mudra,
pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, and meditation practice.
As mentioned above, tribandha not only cures both a
wandering mind and a sleepy mind (both diseases of rajas
or tamas) and thus is excellent as a counteractive remedy
in meditation practice, but it goes further in balancing the
doshas and winds, balancing prana and apana -- the ha
and the tha of hatha yoga. It increases rajas energy if it is
lacking and moves it through the system if it has
accumulated to excess in any one spot and been blocked.
Bandhas help to move the energy through all the energy
centers and as mentioned above can be said to pierce the
three psycho/physical knots (granthis) which block the three
realms of existence. Tri-bandha or trayabandha specifically
draws the energy into the the muladhara chakra and from
there into the sushumna (central column) and it is thus the
forerunner of the advanced pranamaya practice of vase
breathing and the mudra practice of tummo heat. As such
the practice of the bandhas are often called a fire practice.
Indeed it is closely related to tapas (turning up the heat) in
many respects.
As indicated throughout this book. Traya (traya means the
three) bandha in its subtle energetic form can be
implemented throughout asana practice and throughout the
day and night. They also occur spontaneously when one is
naturally aligned with Source or as Grace. Traditionally the
three bandhas (Traya bandha) as used in pranayama
practice is as follows.Very Simple traditional tribandha
(trayabandha)
Exhale all the breath out applying mulabandha,
uddiyana bandha, and cap it off with jalandhara
bandha in that order. Play with accentuating mula and
uddiyana bandha here. Allow the breath to remain
outside, while the torso and spine remains long.
Release jalandhara first, then uddiyana, then
mulabandha, as you inhale drawing the air down into
the lower abdomen as the diaphragm and abdomen
expands.
At the end of the inhale apply mulabandha first and
then cap it off with jalandhara bandha (binding the
prana inside) while lifting the spine and torso (crown
raises up toward the heavens).
Increase this inner "lift" and feeling of internal space
playing with mulabandha and jalandhara bandha while
welcoming the breath in (antar kumbhaka) without any
strain.
Before any tension or stress (or when the lift has
peaked), then release the jalandhara bandha first, then
the breath and mulabandha, while implementing
uddiyana bandha slowly until all the air has been
expelled.
Repeat as in 1 above 10 times.
Be gentle and go for the vital healing energy.
Sequence of traya bandha with antar kumbhaka (internal
retention) utilizing mulabandha throughout:
1. Exhale all the breath out applying mulabandha,
uddiyana bandha, and cap it off with jalandhara
bandha in that order. Play with accentuating mula and
uddiyana bandha here. Empty the breath out while the
torso and spine remains long. This is called external
retention (bahya kumbhaka or sometimes rechaka
kumbhaka).
2. Release jalandhara first, then uddiyana as you inhale.
3. At the cap of the inhale, bind it with jalandhara bandha
and lift the spine and torso up off the pelvis even more
with an uddiyana bandha and gentle accentuation of
mulabandha. This is called internal retention (antar
kumbhaka sometimes called puraka kumbhaka).
4. Release the subtle cap of jalandhara bandha first, then
the breath
5. Repeat as in 1 above
Pranayama with retention (kumbhaka) is not
recommended without expert guidance. Especially
forced external kumbhaka (bahya kumbhaka) can have
quite serious consequences as it can cause negative
pressure in the lungs and stress to other components.
It is is cooling activity.
Another way to perform tri-bandha is to relax the jalandhara
bandha at all times. That relaxation is cleverly its initiation.
J ust make sure that the glottis is open and the throat and
neck muscles are not tight, tense, nor stressed. In other
words both jalandhara and mulabandha are implemented
throughout and the practice becomes more of a pranayama
practice. Some schools teach jalandhara bandha to include
the forced closing of the glottis, but in this specific version
there is no tension or holding at the throat or glottis, but
merely the chin comes in toward the sternal notch while the
back of the neck elongates.
The following is a simple version that I like to give in a
mixed class: Here mulabandha is implemented throughout,
but jalandhara is manipulated, while uddiyana bandha
changes from a subtle implementation (on the inhalation) to
a more physical coarse implementation on the exhalation:
1. Inhale through the nose while visualizing the prana
coming in from Infinite Source through the crown of the
head through the entire body down into the muladhara
in a subtle wavelike motion.
2. After the full inhalation is complete apply mulabandha
and then top off the short and light retention of breath
with jalandhara bandha to welcome and embrace the
breath inside (antar kumbhaka).
3. Then smoothly release the jalandhara bandha first,
while spontaneously starting a gradual uddiyana
bandha to expel all the air out moving the apana in an
upward motion starting in the lower abdomen, through
the torso, to the top of the head melting any hardness
and purifying any poisons.
4. Inhale again as in one and repeat this tribandha
visualization practice 10 times
Hints:
Since uddiyana bandha is always best implemented in
conjunction with mulabandha, the above did not
recommend releasing mulabandha before the exhalation
(after releasing jalandhara bandha), but please note that
many schools advocate releasing the mulabandha during
exhalation (right after jalandhara bandha is released). It is
advantageous to keep the spine long throughout as if the
crown were raising toward the heavens while the pelvic
diaphragm simultaneously merges/connects with the center
of the earth. The active motion is at the navel connecting to
the spine, not at the diaphragm which should be relaxed as
it is allowed to move upward. On the inspiration eventually
visualize the muladhara chakra sucking in the cosmic prana
through the implementation of mulabandha while on the
expiration the apana returns upward to Source through the
a very fine channel approximating the spinal spinal column.
If you like establish conscious rapport with the self
supporting pillar (lingam) that exists between heaven and
earth.

Advanced Practice:
1. At the end of the inhale compound the muladhara
region allowing for a more reflexive, efficient, and
spontaneous simultaneous implementation of both
mulabandha and uddiyana bandha and extend the
antar kumbhaka (internal inhalation). The belly slightly
expands during the inhalation, but at the end of the
inspiration the lower belly goes inward toward the
sacrum as the floor of the pelvic diaphragm
spontaneous lifts through mulabandha, and the spine
lengthens. This is the beginning of classic vase
breathing (discussed in the pranamaya section).
2. Optionally, after the exhalation when one visualizes
the apana rising through the very thin central
threadlike channel which ends at the brahmarandhra
(hole of brahma at the vertex) one can practice
external retention of the air (bahya kumbhaka). This is
the hole where the spirit in the form of vital life
supporting prana leaves the body at death and is part
of more advanced practice called Phowa in Tibetan. It
should NOT be practiced by beginners (external
retention) and focus at the crown because of the
danger of premature death.
In general, if you have not learned the subtle practice of
mulabandha (see above in the mulabandha section), then it
is best to make sure that you release mulabandha before
the exhalation. Make sure that after the practice any tension
in the pelvic and urogential diaphragm regions are released.
However if you have learned the energetic aspect of
mulabandha without contraction, then it is better to
implement mulabandha in that way throughout the
pranayama practice never releasing it. The practice itself
puts us "in touch" with the energy and it is this pure
awareness that continues to instruct. Without this
awareness we resort to general rules of thumb (which are
merely temporarily compensatory in nature. In more
advancedpractice occurs when the energy no longer leaks
outside (bound inside activating the subtle energy body) --
all three bandhas as energy valves directing the energy into
the evolutionary body is simultaneously
occurring continuously -- all the time.
The ordinary use of the three bandhas are highly
advantageous specifically in pranayama practice and
especially, especially so in kumbhaka. So as we become
more at ease in pranayama practice and more aware of the
energetics we not only apply the mulabandha all the time,
but actually we can apply the subtle energetic uddiyana
bandha after the jalandhara bandha at the end of the
INHALE. as well. This creates space in the torso and
lengthens the spine facilitating traction and extension
(ayama). Although this is learned sequentially at first, later
the bandhas are practiced so that they are not applied
mechanically, but rather gradually and softly and all
together in a wave like or spiral motion in coordination with
the lungs, ribs, spine, torso, head, and pelvis.
There exist external "rules" for beginners, but eventually
they ALL have to be thrown away as we learn from the
prana itself -- as we form a living response-able partnership
with the life energy. . Indeed progress means change and
there are many planes and transitions/transformations to
ALLOW for. How can this occur if we are tightly holding
onto the past a authoritative, lawful, or "right"? Indeed how
can we allow our sacred cows (false limiting beliefs) to fall
away?
J ai Durga!

Utilizing the Three Basic Bandhas with the Breath,
Pranayama and Advanced Mudra Practice
The process is like a wave on the ocean -- it is neither
sharp angled nor flat -- it is not even three dimensional -- It
happens fully when we drop the individual mind and will
altogether and allow for it (through authentic isvara
pranidhana). Thus the motions do not happen sequentially,
but rather in mutual synchronicity. They are mutually
synergistic. As practice increases the activity becomes ever
more refined and subtle.
To avoid energetic and physical problems the bandhas are
taught first. Then asana, then pranayama proper, then
mudra (with asana, bandha, visualization, and breath).
Utilizing traya bandha thus in pranayama assumes that we
have done at least the preparations.
1) Thus in pranayama at first we teach beginning yoga
students diaphragmatic breath (to be aware of moving the
diaphragm while breathing). This is shown by the belly
rising on the inhale and sinking on the exhale. Later once
this awareness and ability is integrated we teach them three
part breath (yogic breathing). First the belly inflates, rises,
and widens; then the ribs, and then the apex of the lungs
while upon exhalation the reverse occurs. One should
notice how the ribs attach to the sternum in front and the
spine to the back and how the breath thus lengthens the
spine and moves the heart. This is as far as the majority of
the yoga students go, but it is only a preliminary only.
2) Then alternate nostril breathing (nadis shuddhi), agni
sara, kapalabhati, ujjayi, sitkari, sitali, and their variations
are usually taught with their variations are taught. These are
all very safe (as they are done without retention). Again we
are assuming that the basic bandhas (mula, uddiyana, and
jalandhara) are already familiar. In this regard the hatha
yoga shat karmas (kriyas) are most synergistic. Likewise
the bandhas are essential for the kriyas.
For example, traditional jal basti, vamana dhauti, nauli kriya,
and agni sara kriya can not be done without first mastering
uddiyana bandha. Thus these kriyas (along with the rest of
the shat karmas) are taught at the very beginning of any
traditional hatha yoga training. Unfortunately, it is not well
known in the West that all the bandhas may be used very
effectively during asana practice as well as well as
pranayama and as a preparation for meditation.
The average students in the West are not interested beyond
these preliminary stages. Only when there is sincere
spiritual interest or passion (tapas) the more advanced
pranayamas are taught which involve kumbhaka (retention)
as the next step.
Always as we start to address"developmental"stages, there
will arise contradictions as to the "rules" set out for the
beginner. In other words the beginner is taught to perform
nadis shuddhi (alternate nostril breathing) incorporating the
three part breath noticing the duration and qualities of the
breath. This is very instructive and beneficial -- not a phase
to be skipped. Later nadi shuddhi is developed further to
sukha purvaka where one applies mulabandha at the end of
the inhale then jalandhara bandha (inter-connecting two
bandhas simultaneously). Then to exhale, release
jalandhara bandha first, then implement uddiyana bandha,
and lastly at the end of the exhalation the beginner is often
taught to release mulabandha. Although some schools
teach to embrace mulabandha throughout, it is generally
thought to beneficial for the beginner to alternately let go
and implement mulabandha with awareness frequently,
especially at first.
This same sequence can be used for internal (antar)
retention (kumbhaka) after bhastrika or kapalabhati as well
or any antar kumbhaka for that matter, but it is only
preliminary and should not be held onto as if these bandhas
were actually "performed" sequentially, linearly, or rigidly
but rather more so smoothly, with kinesthetic feedback,
energetically, wavelike, and naturally.
Likewise for external (bahya) retention (kumbhaka), say at
the end of bhastrika, we implement mulabandha, exhale all
the air out with a strong uddiyana bandha. While
maintaining mula bandha and uddiyana bandha we cap it
off with jalandhara bandha, but instead of these being
performed one at a time (sequentially) they can be done all
in a gradual wavelike spiral movement and energetically.
Then to inhale, we release jalandhara bandha first, then
uddiyana, then mulabandha and engage in another round
of bhastrika.
Of course it is best to have an experienced teacher observe
and suggest, but they are rare, while the inner teacher of
innate awareness is always available according to our
passion and ability to apply sensitivity and awareness to our
practice. But because pranayama is indeed a very powerful
force, it is recommended that an experienced teacher be
consulted (at least for pranayama practices that call for
kumbhaka). Remember that the point is not to hold the
breath as long as you can (in goal orientation, control, or
will power -- as that can be injurious), but rather attain that
state where breathing is no longer called for (Kaivalya).
The above "guidelines" exist for the intermediate beginner
and further practice REQUIRES that we eventually give up
these guidelines as well. This is called authentic
PROGRESS or spiritual evolution. So there exist then
further advanced practices which will contradict the above
as we become more finer attuned to the ever present
teaching/teacher -- as we learn to listen in pure awareness
and consciousness. It is my hope that the above will be
sufficient to begin the journey of inner exploration, as it is
not desired to add confusion nor rush the practice. It is very
powerful at first to become aware of the breath and activate
certain energy circuits. One learns to activate the breath
and energy. When the nadis are open and the requisite
awareness of the energy body is achieved , then most likely
the inner wisdom and evolutionary consciousness so
activated will lead the sincere seeker further by itself -- we
become breathed by that Source and know it directly.
As mentioned, these practices involve utilizing the energy of
uddiyana bandha even on the in- breath so that instead of
having the belly inflate, the back and pelvis fills while the
torso and spine remain elongated. . This is also called back
breathing and is the beginning of vase breathing (of the
Maha Siddhas) which is a requisite preliminary to Tummo
(Kundalini practice) and Phowa, which is itself a preliminary
to the more advanced inner/outer tantric practices of
aligning and synchronizing the inner constellations with the
outer.
Thus it is best to start off with the clear understanding that
all the bandhas are ENERGY locks on the subtle level, not
necessarily muscle contractions (although their energetic
movement may as a result shorten the spaces between two
bones). For instance in mula bandha the perineal space
must soften to be allowed to draw up (if it is drawn too far
down), and thus with the softening of the area the space
between the pubic bone and tail bone shortens. If we suffer
from a lack of apana, then the perineum may already be
drawn up too much in spasm and must be allowed to relax.
The point being (see aswini mudra and mulabandha
discussion), the bandhas are not done through normal
muscle contraction as in the outer/gross form of aswini
mudra or vajroli mudra.
With all bandhas we establish flow and remove stasis and
thus there is an absence of effort and force -- it MUST
become more than effortless -- it must energize, balance
apana/prana, and give us energy! This is being reiterated
because it is the most common misconception. Thus the
bandhas create flow through and between the chakras,
rather than restrict it. They loosen the knots, not worsen
them. Thus they redirect dormant energize while liberating
our higher embodied potential and evolutionary circuitries.
What they do restrict is the outward dissipation of energy at
the very chakras thus stopping the outflow and in this sense
they are the energetic and physical correspondent to
pratyhara and vairaga in these regions their ultimate
purpose is to stop outward flow and dissipation while
activating the evolutionary energy in the central nadis
(sushumna) called kundalini (i.e., the purpose of hatha
yoga).
All the above can be invited to happen naturally -- all the
bandhas and breath can be implemented a little at a time
simultaneously -- all a little at once -- synergistically, without
rigidity, as the spine moves in a wavelike spiraling manner,
rather than one at a time sequentially. When the inner
teacher takes over -- all this happens not through the
agency of the will or the intellect, but rather by shakti's
grace - spontaneously.
More elaborate or sophisticated techniques are not always
better. The main thing is that the divine passion/longing is
still beckoning us strongly, and we are moving in that
direction through our yoga practices. Extensive techniques
may be obtained in books or by external teachers, but the
inner wisdom energy must lead. Authentic practice is based
upon getting the inner guide activated and very much
involved -- know him/her as no other than the Self. All
instruction is available in turiya. We can share some
specifics, but such should not be limited to linear, flat plane,
willful, external, or left brain dominated practice.
The best practice is one that is suited for our own unique
constitution (which necessarily varies for each individual).
What thus works best is to emphasize listening, observing,
meditation, receptivity, receiving information (often in the
form of positive biofeedback loops) and then acting
accordingly and while augmenting innate "response-ability"
until a direct positive feedback loop is created -- self
activated -- spontaneous while still observing, but here the
individual will and intellect is no longer the doer. In sahaj or
natural yoga we are moved and breathed by "THAT" --- that
COMMUNION with nature in everyday life (as well as in
sleep) is what my practice attempts to deepen, make more
continuous, and whole. Thus it is very simple -- requires no
books, computer, or props other than a good blanket/mat or
kusha grass, passion, and mother. J ai Ma!

Part Two: Less Common Adjunctive Bandhas
Following are some additional inner energetic bandhas that
are often recommended for various specific effects. They
are advanced, but at the same time, not necessarily better
(as more is not always better). For example, mulabandha is
generally considered to be the most valuable bandha. If it is
implemented "correctly" all the other bandhas will come into
place and for the most part, they may even occur
spontaneously. Likewise, for example, if mulabandha is
perfect, then swadhi bandha will not be called for in the first
place.
Some of the following are modern non-traditional bandhas
that have been formulated through intensive hatha yoga
practices, which may not be suitable for every body. In
addition, one may find more bandhas listed by modern
yogins such as hasta bandha and pada bandha that is
described in Orit Sen-Gupta's and Dona Holleman's book,.
"Dancing the Body of Light: The Future of Yoga", Pegasus,
1999 and also by Tias Little in his excellent article in
the November 2001 issue of "The Yoga J ournal".
For example, in pada bandha the natural arch in the foot
allows for a unique maximum flow of energy through the
legs and foot which is a pivotal center especially in standing
poses, but pada bandha can be activated in most all poses
(sirsasana, sarvangasana, etc.). To get a feel of pada
bandha try single leg balancing poses such as ardha
chandrasana, Nataraja, or especially warrior III where the
foot "cups" the earth. All the toes remain long and wide but
a trans-integrity is formed in that the tarsal bones (toes)
press toward the heels as the heels stay engaged with the
toes, Thus the arch and entire foot is strengthened,
balanced, and energized. When we are able to strengthen
the arch of the foot via pada bandha, we then are able to
utilize the lift at the arch to augment the lift of mulabandha.
Do not create tension or stress. Like all the bandhas this is
conscious relaxation and opening of a vital connection
point. One will experience this synergy with practice.
Likewise in hasta bandha this particular cupping
configuration is applied to the hands when they touch the
earth. This trans-integrity within the nadis allows synergistic
efficacy especially for handstands, scorpion, plank, and the
like. All arm balances with the palms facing down can
greatly benefit from the lift of hasta bandha. Note that the
base of the palm and the pads of the palm both remain on
the earth, but the center of the palm gently cups up the
energy while releasing accumulated tension.
For example in handstand we are balancing on the hands,
but how often does a beginner actively accept the balance
at the hands. Most people use their hands as stable but
dead blocks, but one must keep the hands alive and active
providing not only support and balance, but also the lift.
This is similar to utilizing pada bandha in warrior III realizing
the essentiality of the foot bandha (pada bandha) in
supporting, balancing, and lifting the entire body. There the
foot grabs/cups the earth and the arch is strengthened and
in hasta bandha the same is done but with the hands
instead. The same dynamics that happen in pada bandha in
Warrior III must also happen in handstand with hasta
bandha, except that it happens in the hands rather than the
feet. Of course the feet should also be active in handstand,
but here the essential action and balance point is found
through the activity of the hands.
"... in hasta bandha the weight of the body has to be shifted
from the wrists ... to the central bones of the palms .... Then
the center of the palms are sucked upward in the same way
as in pada bandha, thus trapping the energy in the typical
arch construction, and sending it upward through the arm
and shoulder joints. The fingers are kept long, and flat on
the earth and they root together with the wrists, forming the
rim of the cyclone or bandha. This corresponds to in the
action of pada bandha, where the toes are elongated on the
earth and root together with the heel bones."
Pg 44. "Dancing the Body of Light", Dona Holleman and
Orit Sen-Gupta, Pegasus, 1999.
Likewise one can find similar energy valves throughout the
body. Here we will discuss only a few that may be specially
useful for meditation and/or asana practices. Let it be noted
that the bandhas as energy locks are meant to be utilized
with pranayama, asana, pratyhara, and visualization
(dharana) in advanced hatha yoga practices called mudras.
Such mudras, bandhas, pratyhara, and pranayama, and
asana can also occur spontaneously as the activity of shakti
(kriya shakti).

Jivha Bandha and the Talu Chakra
This is the placement of the tongue on to the front top of the
hard palate at the juncture with the teeth (the tip of the
tongue actually touches the front teeth. In some schools,
just the tip touches, in other schools the front hollow of the
tongue also touches the hard palate, while in other schools
the tongue is curved slightly backward toward the soft
palate. This is a common bandha used to seal any
dissipation/distraction of energy from the ajna chakra region
and above. Like jalandhara bandha it connects the throat
chakra with the head, but more specifically the talu chakra
near the root of the tongue near the back brain and the ajna
chakra (3rd eye) region.
Relax the neck, throat, cheeks, jaw, back-brain area,
bottom of the brain and the forehead (and all inbetween).
This serves the pathway function of the kurma nadi.
Cautions: Do not use hard physical pressure, rather
RELAX the physical tongue and especially the root. Instead
of a physical touch at the upper palate, attempt to
energetically "Sense" and "touch" the top of the palate while
establishing this connection..
Discussion: J ivha bandha practice, although similar,
should not be confused with khechari mudra where the
elongated physical tongue is brought back behind the soft
palate, behind the uvula, and up behind the backside of the
nares (effecting alternate swara closure by the tongue) and
then ultimately up to the space behind the the eyebrows.
This physical or coarse form indeed bestows the energetic
positive after effects of J ivha Bandha, it is the great seal or
king of the mudras extolled by the yogis. The J ivha bandha
as an energy lock as in the inner (antar) practice of
khechari, preventing the wavering of the dualistic mind, just
as the gross form where the physical tongue blocks the
passage of the ida and pingala psychic nerves (nadis) and
shunts them into sushumna (the central nadi) joining the
sahasrara (crown) with the sushumna, and hence uniting it
as one with the physical body effecting energetic and
psychic integration with the eternal divine. Here one rests in
divine peace.
The symbolism of khechari mudra is discussed in the mudra
section of this book, but here we will simply discuss jivha
bandha as a simple and easily attained position of the
tongue that completes the energy valve from the throat
chakra, talu chakra and upward to the third eye (ajna
chakra). This method should remain soft but conscious. It is
used in meditation as well as pranayama in order to help
accomplish this subtle energy connection, while khechari
mudra may be considered the big brother of jivha bandha.
Khechari mudra for those so gifted is used in pranayama
and meditation extensively.

Ajna Bandha: the Third eye or Ajna Chakra
Ajna Bandha: Not discussed in the classical hatha yoga
literature except as a mudra. It is the most subtle of all the
bandhas moving the distilled energy of all the other chakras
in a fine line into crown (sahasrara). When it is done
spontaneously, it is characterized by the eyes moving up
and back into the third eye, the eyelids lightly quivering, the
eyebrows slightly raising, the tongue spontaneously in
khechari mudra, the nostrils lightly flaring, the ears slightly
elongating and raising, the condyles at the back of the neck
unwinding, the jaw naturally dropping long. In addition a
spontaneous puckered smile forms on the tightly closed lips
and internally there is perceived a translucent effulgent
energy interface at the third eye sometimes producing a
slight external quivering at the forehead region.
In meditation and mudra practice ajna is usually activated
lastly after all the other bandhas are implemented, raising
the energy up out of the lower and middle sushumna,
removing any blockages to the crown., and in this way it
completes the siva/shakti circle. It will help in pranayama as
to complete the final journey of the prana after the retention
(kumbhaka), both after the inhalation (puraka) and
exhalation (rechaka). It should never be forced, but rather
practiced as a cooperation and allowance for these energy
vectors to occur.
Ajna bandha energetically interlocks, inter-connects, and
intelligently opens creative dialogue between the throat
chakra, talu chakra, third eye, and sahasrara permitting the
energy to synchronize and flow inward and upward re-
forming the sacred link between creation and creator in
effulgent and trans-conceptional embodied Love. With all
the chakras energetically linked and interconnected through
the bandhas the crown and root are re-united, heaven and
earth, the groom and bride, the right and left, spirit and
nature, Kether and Malkuth. Here we rest in the healing
eternal waters that bathe and nurture all.

Swadhi Bandha: Swadhistana Chakra
Swadhi bandha is also not discussed in classical hatha
yoga treatises. It also utilizes elements of the pelvis like
mulabandha, but differs from mulabandha in that the trans-
integrity operates in a horizontal plane, while mulabandha
operates more in front/back and top/down planes. Swadhi
bandha, when combined with mulabandha and uddiyana
bandha, opens the energy in the swadhistana chakra and
pelvic bowl by balancing and integrating the energy in the
middle and upper pelvis, thus it connects the fire chakra
with the earth chakra by opening up any knots between the
earth chakra, water chakra (swadhistana), and fire chakra.
It maintains the opening of the sacral area in the back, the
area below the navel in front, the sides of the torso between
the iliac crest and lower ribs, the space between the sit
bones, and the spaces between the two posterior superior
iliac spines (PSIS) while adjusting the sacro-lumbar junction
(L5/S1)

Some pelvic anatomy may be useful. The pelvis coxal
bones (os coxae or innominate bones) is often misnamed
the hip bone. Rather. the hip is a joint formed by the
articulation of two bones, the femur and ilium at the
acetabulum. The pelvic bone (os coxae or innominate bone)
actually consists of three bones, i.e., the pubis bone, the
two ilia, and the ischium. These bones do not usually
become fused together except in adults. The sacrum and
tailbone, although found within the pelvic girdle, are not
considered as parts of the pelvic bones, and are capable of
individual movement. The os coxae, taken as a whole,
articulates with the sacrum at the sacroiliac (SI) joint in
back, and the two pubic rami in front.
The bony pelvic cavity broken down as 1. Sacrum 2. Ilium
3. Ischium 4. Pubic bone 5. Pubic symphysis 6. Acetabulum
7. Obturator foramen 8. Coccyx The red line denotes the
pelvic brim.

The primary move of swadhi bandha can be described as
the circular swiveling of the two PSIS (posterior Superior
Iliac Spines) outward and off from the sacrum, the widening
of the two ischial tuberosities (sit bones) away from each
other, and the movement of the two ASIS (anterior superior
iliac crests) in toward each other, while the two iliac crests
swing around to move toward each other anteriorly The two
iliac crests do not move directly toward each other, but
rather first open out laterally and then curving inward in
toward the front. This action is hinged at the mulabandha as
the two sit bones simultaneously widen away from each
other as the medial iliac spines spread away from the
sacrum liberating the sacro-coccygeal complex as the back
of the sacrum is given more space to move between the
two ilia If one likes, one can simply focus on one movement
such as the two PSIS (posterior superior iliac spines)
moving laterally (away from each other) creating space for
the sacrum to slide inferior (downward).
This movement is often described by some schools of yoga
as the two ASIS (anterior superior iliac spines) connecting
toward each other synergistically; however this image may
be counterproductive and increase tension. It should be
visualized more as relaxing in a spiral motion aligning and
balancing the ischium, pubis, sacrum, and ilia, so that three
bones and fascia of the pelvis are mobilized creating space
at SI (sacroiliac) joint. The two two innominate bones of the
pelvis move laterally away from the sacrum, while the the
sacrum can freely slide down and away from the lumbar
spine providing more support in lengthening the entire spine
without rounding the lower back.
For those whose SI joints are compressed, this motion will
appear as an synergistic connection between the two iliac
crests in front, as the sit bones (ischial tuberosities) widen
apart. Various hatha yoga asana will provide awareness in
these areas. For an illustration on how the sacrum moves
within the pelvic bowl in this manner see diagram #???. For
a diagram on how the two ilea (or rather innominate or
coxal bones) move independently in this manner, see
diagram #???)
.
For a graphic representation visualize a top down (superior
view of the pelvic bowl. Visualize the half moon shapes of
both innominate bones (os coxae) rotating as in an inward
arc toward the center line starting from the sides (the left
bowl clockwise and the right bowl counterclockwise). This
motion occurs equally in the pelvic inlet as well as the pelvic
outlet i.e., both at the top of the sacrum and at the sit bones
equally. One could thus say that this is an abduction or
decompression of the SI joint. Thus one may visualize that
the two coxal bones or ilia (os coxae or innominate) spread
out from the SI joint or abduct in a swirling. The thighs may
appear to rotate inwardly (the front of the knees rotate in
toward each other), while the energy is spiraling in to the
swadhistana chakra (hara center) below the navel and in
front of the sacrum. Along these anatomically functional
lines, it should be noted that the five hip adductors
(adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus,
pectineus, and gracilis) also serve as hip medial rotators as
well as hip flexors.
Some asanas can help create this motion through directed
actions of the femur in the hip socket (acetabulum) while
directing these torques through the innominate bones (os
coxae). For example, while standing the motion of internal
rotation of the hip/femur joint may also help this abduction
at the SI joint, hence swadhi bandha is accentuated.
Likewise the external rotation of the hips may compress the
SI joint and reverse the swadhi bandha. Hence when
engaged in positions of external hip rotation it may be wise
to maintain swadhi bandha in order not to compress the SI
joint unduly. Similarly adduction of the hips that is effected
by such asanas such as gomukhasana, matsyendrasana,
marichiasana, and garudasana (most adduction in general)
as well as internal rotation of the hip joint will tend to help
effect decompression of the SI joint and swadhi bandha
widening the two innominate (coxal) bones at the SI
(sacroiliac) joint in back away from the sacrum and thus
allowing the sacrum and coccyx to slide downward
(effecting what is sometimes called counternutation of the
sacrum).
Although adduction, abduction, internal, and external
rotation of the hip joint can assist in swadhi bandha (and/or
swadhi bandha can assist in these movements), we are not
addressing the actual anatomical movement that occurs at
the top of the femur inside the acetabulum (ball and socket
joint of the hip joint) as swadhi bandha per se. Rather, by
swadhi bandha we are referring to the movement between
the two innominate (coxal) bones in the pelvis proper that is
created by the femur as it leverages the two wings of the
pelvis outward -- as it widens the fascia (width wise) across
the back of the sacrum, pelvis, and thigh. In other words
such motions as adduction and internal rotation may help
secondarily in aiding this motion at the SI joint, while poses
which normally abduct the hip and create exterior rotation
may be stabilized and prevented from compressing the SI
joint through the implementation of swadhi bandha
(widening outward and forward of the iliac crests).

Here as the iliac crests may ROTATE toward each other
in a anterior (forward) direction, while the sit bones
move away from each while the back of the PSIS
actually move outward (lateral). This is a spiral
motion, while no compression or tension in the pelvis is
created; rather the opposite, an opening is felt; yet stability
is reinforced simultaneously. Both the pelvic inlet (the top of
the pelvic bowl) and the pelvic outlet (the bottom of the
pelvic bowl) actually expand and open simultaneously in
wavelike pulsatory motions.
Perhaps it is more valuable way to describe Swadhi bandha
is as the movement that allows expansion of the two sit
bones and the two PSIS (Posterior Superior Iliac Spine)
points away from the midline allowing the sacrum to
sink down off the lumbar spine. The front of the two
iliac crests may appear to be rotating forward and
inwards toward each other, thus creating space at the
back of the pelvis for the sacrum to drop and thus
lengthen from the lumbar spine. In this process do not
create tension in the front of the pelvis.
This lateral opening at the back of the pelvis will take any
pressure off the sacrum (at the SI joint). Here we are
looking not only for horizontal balance and synergy at the
front top of the pelvis (ASIS) but also at the iliac crests, sit
bones, and pubic bones. When this is explored and learned
there is no imbalance at the sacrum top or bottom, between
the pubic bones, sit bones, or iliac crest. The entire front,
back, and top of the pelvis is in synergistic symmetry,
equilibrium and alignment. This creates stability in the pelvis
and SI joint necessary for all twists and asymmetrical asana
practice.
In other words, when the two ASIS protuberances and iliac
crests rotate in toward each other in front, the two sit bones
(ischial tuberosities move away from each other, and the
two PSIS points also move away from each other in back.
Thus, an intra-pelvic movement between the two pelvic
bones occur, which hinge upon the pubic symphysis in front
yet this joint does not proximate, but rather remains
distracted or in traction. Thus, in swadhi bandha we can
hinge the two iliac crest bones forward and inward (in a
circular motion) through a widening and opening action at
the SI joint where the sit bones move laterally away from
each other and simultaneously the pubic symphysis
provides the front hinge without compaction. Thus, not only
does the SI joint open, but the trans-integrity of the two
pubic bones (rami), the two sit bones (the bottom of the
ischium at the ischial tuberosity), the two PSIS bones (at
the back of the pelvis), the sacrum, tailbone, and iliac crests
all move in a characteristic balance, alignment which
eliminates stress and creates synergy and flow in the pelvic
girdle. The hinge that occurs at the pubic symphysis brings
the energy into the lower belly (ovary/prostate/hara region)
or swadhistana chakra preventing dissipation. This is
swadhi bandha.
Here we go for the balance and energy flow using any or all
of these anatomic parts (ASIS, iliac crests, pubic bone, sit
bones, PSIS) as landmarks so that the entire pelvic bowl
(consisting of the pelvic inlet and outlet) and all their
connective tissue, fascia, glands, organs, and nerves are
able to release any stress or tension from its wavelike spiral
motion. As discussed in the earlier chapters even the action
of the humerus can exert many vectors upon the pelvis (for
example through the action of the latissimus dorsi which
attaches from the arm to the pelvis), so here we can learn
to utilize all these inter-relationships with the sacrum
synergistically especially in standing poses but as well as in
arm movements. At the same time this awareness allows us
to intuitively evaluate the correct placement of the legs and
arms -- our overall stance in life in relationship to its effects
on mula and swadhi bandha.
Hint: Continue to move so that the coccyx continues to
move forward while the sacrum is able to slide downward
(counternutation of the sacrum) creating an awareness of
the spine lengthening by opening the two iliac crests away
from the midline, while simultaneously separating the two sit
bones and PSIS in back. Pay attention to the
top and bottom of sacrum so that balance is achieved at the
sacrum without tilting/distorting it in relationship to the
spine. This movement should allow the tailbone to elongate,
drop, and move freely. Do this all consciously (with
sensitivity and awareness) and by all means do not create
tension or undue contraction. Perform mulabandha first.
Benefits: Like mulabandha, many of us may be tight,
insensitive, tense, blocked, or immobile in this region at
first; and it will be through intense practice and awareness
that these directions will gel, creating a subjective/objective
living integration. Like all the rest of the bandhas, first
establish mulabandha, then find the synergistic relationship
between these two bandhas and the energy flow between
their corresponding chakras and the spine. In hip flexion,
this movement is very helpful in situations where the
hamstrings are tight (as they attach to the sit bones) and
thus are pulling them together. Also on forward bends and
adduction this also helps loosen tight gluteals, tight
abductor, and tight external rotators. Conversely swadhi
bandha helps in preventing stress at the SI joint in severe
abduction and external rotation. It is helpful in many poses
but especially in standing contra-lateral poses such as
warrior (virabhadrasana), parsovottanasana, prariivrtta
trikonasana, and similar. It works similarly in ek pada
kapotasana (one footed pigeon), marichiasana, and the like.
In urdva dhanurasana (chakrasana), setu bandhuasana
(bridge), purvattoasana (east facing pose) and the like,
swadhi bandha (as SI pelvic abduction) helps prevent
excess lateral rotation of the hip and compression at the SI
joint, while in other back bends, it helps prevent the pelvis
from hiking (at the iliac crest), compression at the SI joint,
and the sacrum from rising toward the lumbar maintaining
healthy space between the lumbar disks -- in short it helps
stabilize the pelvis when used with mulabandha.
The motion of swadhi bandha is specific for opening up,
alleviating compression, and widening at the SI joint
specifically but helps also in alleviating stress on the back,
stretching the hamstrings, abductors, and especially the
deep muscles (lateral rotators) of the pelvis. It opens up the
pelvic inlet and outlet. It helps move the energy through the
water (swadhistana) chakra preventing outward dissipation.
It helps stretch tight abductor muscles and strengthen
adductors. Swadhi bandha helps tonify the sacrum, the
ureters, bladder, genitals, hara, and swadhistana chakra. Its
tonifying effect aids in losing lower abdomen atony and fat.
Tightness at the upper pelvis and lower torso is relieved,
more fire is created in the manipura chakra increasing
gastric fire, the benefits of twists (such as matsyendrasana
and marichiasana) are greatly accentuated.
Cautions: Consult a yoga therapist or avoid if the SI
(sacroiliac) joint is unstable or the ligaments are overly
loose. As swadhi bandha helps to create space at the SI
joint, those who have overly loose ligaments in that area
due to past injuries or genetic factors do not need this
motion. Also avoid tension or proximation at the pubic
symphysis, but rather traction so that flow and balance
occurs also in front at the pubic bone. The movement at the
pelvis should mobilize the sacrum -- create more space for
the sacrum to independently move at the SI joint in a
natural sliding motion. Especially when working in asana
the motion of the sacrum should be inward and supportive
both in forward and backward bends. The distance between
the iliac crest and the back ribs should stay long -- ditto for
the sacrum and the lumbar spine. One should not overly
concentrate on swadhi bandha as a correct mulabandha will
take care of the entire pelvis. This is a bandha that corrects
commonly found displacements in the hips, pelvis, and SI
joint and helps to prevent injury.

Nabhi Bandha: The Hara Region
Nabhi bandha is also not discussed in detail in classical
hatha yoga traditions. It is similar to uddiyana only in that it
focuses similarly upon the region near the navel, however
nabhi bandha uniquely focuses four finger widths below it
(half way between the swadhistana and the manipura). In
nabhi bandha the upper part of the abdomen is not drawn
in, but just the area below the navel.
Thus it can be described physically as the pulling in and
back in the area of the abdomen below the navel,
energizing and purifying the upper part of the water chakra
and the lower part of the fire chakra -- as such it is the liquid
fire center. Although it can be performed in a physical,
gross, coarse, and external manner utilizing muscles, it also
is best seen as a subtle and internal energetic process
where fire and energy is gathered together, stored, and
then distributed to the rest of the nadis (psychic centers).
This is the region of the lower dan dien (tan tien) or hara in
Chinese and J apanese yoga systems.
Procedure: It can be learned at first through its physical
gross form by first implementing mula bandha and a
light/subtle uddiyana bandha creating a lift in the torso and
the spine up off the pelvis. Then allow the lower abdomen
below the navel to move straight backwards toward the
spine energizing the lower tan tien (hara). It can be
performed subtly like this throughout the day during
walking, sitting, asana, pranayama, mudra or meditation. It
can also be done quickly like agni sara kriya (in and out
motions), but with the lower abdomen only. This is called
nabhi kriya.
Also nabhi bandha differs from agni sara and uddiyana
bandha, as it is more stimulating when done with internal
kumbhaka and reverse breath. Try nabhi bandha as a
subtle adjunct to swadhi bandha while simultaneously
activating mulabandha, uddiyana bandha, and vajroli
mudra. Such an internal practice synchronized after the
incoming breath will move the energy through the lower
chakras. This bandha is especially useful in what is
called bottle or vase breathing.
In the physical practice all the skin and fascia below the
navel moves toward the spine, but the pelvis, chest, and
back do not move. Keep the scapula down toward the
sacrum and armpit chest rotated in its open and lifted
position. This is the same breath and bandha that we do
with proper vase breathing. (See the chapter on
pranayama)
Like uddiyana bandha, a proper mulabandha is necessary
for an effective nabhi bandha. The pelvis is neither in
retroversion nor anteversion, but rather in trans-integrity. In
another sense nabhi bandha can be said to be a
continuation of mula and swadhi bandha as it dynamically
occurs between the pelvis and the navel. Although we say
that nabhi bandha is found in trans-integrity of the pelvis, it
is at first most easily accessed and most pronounced during
posterior tilts of the pelvis (retroversion) with the torso fixed.
One asana which will quickly give the reader a felt sense of
nabhi bandha would be to first lay on your back preparing
for bridge pose (setubandhu asana). Then retrovert the
pelvis tucking the tailbone under and up toward the pubic
bone.The concavity in the bladder region so formed, mirrors
the physical configuration of nabhi bandha.
Benefits: One can imagine that with the combined effects
of mulabandha and swadhi bandha the lower energies are
harmonized activated, concentrated . and
compounded below and behind the navel with great
intensity . It creates energy and heat at the lower belly (tan
tien in Chinese and hara in J apanese). Nabhi bandha
stimulates, purifies, and balances the first three chakras
especially balancing the apana and prana. It is especially
able to cure diseases of apana deficiency when combined
with effective mula, swadhi, and uddiyana bandhas. It is a
specific tonic for the water/fire region and especially so for
the prostate/ovaries, adrenals, assimilation (lower small
intestines) , upper lumbar, and kidneys.
Like the other asanas and bandhas nabhi is most effective
for those suffering from specific imbalances such as
excessive lordosis (swayback), tightness of the groins, lack
of hip extension, weak hip extensors, tight hip flexors,
obesity, constipation,, weak iliopsoas, tight quadratus
lumborum, lack of energy, lower back problems, and other
maladies of that specific region.
As an energy lock, nabhi bandha can be implemented all
the time, but it is most actively implemented physically at
the end of uddiyana bandha (at the end of a full exhalation).
After that is mastered, then advanced practitioners can
actively implement nabhi bandha after a full inhalation (like
uddiyana bandha) to top off an antar kumbhaka.
More commonly Nabhi bandha helps expel all the air out of
the lungs when implemented at the end of exhalation (after
uddiyana bandha). Also utilizing nabhi bandha (especially at
the end of the inhalation) helps move the heart forward
and upward -- raising even the apex of the lungs,
lengthening the spine, and providing the action of
compounding, churning, and compaction of the inner heat
that melts the hardness of the mind (such in the advanced
practices of pranayama, tummo heat, and mudras, utilizing
vase breathing (see the chapter on pranayama and mudras
for more).
Caution: Avoid any tension/tightness in the hara. Use nabhi
bandha to soften the deep fascia of the lower abdomen,
and remove hardness. Do not allow nabhi bandha to restrict
the movement of the thoracic and thus not restrict the depth
of the incoming air. Rather allow the air and movement to
completely penetrate all the way into the muladhara even
more so by the application of nabhi bandha.
Realize that when the breath and prana is coursing deeply
through the body/mind nabhi bandha happens by naturally
itself, through grace. Thus it is not necessary to consciously
implement, nor should one strive to hold it. However as an
intentional conscious practice, when we explore and
investigate the energy of this bandha in asana, meditation,
pranayama, mudra, and the like, we find that we can also
help alleviate obstruction, obscuration, energy stagnation,
tension, imbalance, while not only allowing the energy to
freely move but also augment distant energy centers as well
as our overall energy, balance, and alignment.

Hri Bandha: Heart Chakra
This is the same motion described so much in asana
practice to open the arm pit chest complex and shoulder
girdle while "raising the area of the back behind the kidneys
(raise the kidneys). It is a necessary motion for the
facilitation of jalandhara bandha (in order for the chin can
rest upon the sternal notch the sternum/chest must raise to
meet it). It appears complicated to the intellect because it
utilizes the rib attachments both in front at the sternum and
in back at the transverse processes in back simultaneously.
Since the ribs are connected with the back, neck, pelvis,
and skull either directly or through connective tissue (fascia)
much is involved both in front and in back, up and down,
and laterally as well. For example the quadratus lumborum
attaches to the lower ribs and the pelvis. Thus implementing
both mulabandha and hri bandha simultaneously will stretch
the QL as well as many other muscles of the back, thus
maintaining length, integrity, and space both front and back
and to the sides of the lower trunk. .
Hri bandha involves the oft times obscure internal
relationship between the sternum, ribs, spine, collarbones,
scapula, humerus, pelvis, trochanter, and skull. In order for
this area centered at the heart to open energetically from
the inside out in all directions., the lower bandhas first have
to be engaged and stable.
Hri meaning heart or core is the heart of the heart and
ultimately refers to the transpersonal heart of all hearts or
central axis of the universe associated with the deepest
interconnection of the sahasrara chakra which cannot be
described by the author. But here in the human heart area
our feelings and/or our ability to feel or fear of feeling come
into contact with the sea of our emotions as well as our
ability to express our feelings. It is here that we feebly and
dysfunctionally try to hide from our pain and fears.
Conversely, hri bandha reverses this energetic close down
of the anahata chakra (feeling center).
Paradoxically some call the upper part of Hri Bandha,
banker's pose, because of the stereotype of the banker
sticking his thumbs up and under the arm pits moving the
armpit chest forward and up in a spiral movement while the
scapula sinks. Richard Freeman is fond to remind us that
banker's pose is open 24/7 -- all the time.
Moving the center of the sternum forward; the lower ribs
and navel point down and back (nabhi and uddiyana
bandha) while the floating ribs spiral back toward the spine
(in front) and upwards (in back) which is called "raise the
kidneys". The entire rib cage opens up, expands and raises
off the pelvis both in front and back.
Thus the front upper most ribs, collarbone, and top shoulder
points tilt/spiral up, around, back, and back down in a spiral
motion; the top of the scapula moves caudad, the bottom of
the scapula pressing anterior (toward the sternum) and
slightly up, the medial sides of the scapula abduct and
separate from each other (but not protract) while moving
anterior, the center of the armpits rotate up, around, and
back, the collarbone widening and lifting (usually with in-
breath). This motion is very difficult to visualize utilizing the
three plane model, but it can be strongly felt with grace and
gratitude. (See illustration number ???)
Practice: Stand in mountain pose with palms together at the
chest. From the bottom up implement mulabandha and a
light uddiyana bandha. Spiral the front floating ribs toward
the back and raise the points behind the kidneys in back.
while simultaneously lifting the entire chest and rib cage up
off the pelvis (maintaining mulabandha). This will create
space in the abdomen. Allow the entire ribcage to expand
and lift while the center of the sternum moves forward and
simultaneously the armpits spiral from the front, upward,
and around toward the back (appearing counterclockwise if
viewed from the right side or clockwise if viewed from the
left side). The top Keep the center of the ears over the
center of the thoracic cage and engage jalandhara bandha.
Visualize the heart expanding and spiraling forward --
energetically as a chakra/circle in all directions while you
visualize interlocking the heart energy with the lower
chakras below and the throat chakra, ajna, and sahasrara
chakras above, thus connecting the manipura, swadhistana,
and muladhara below with the upper chakras through the
heart center. Move with full feeling from this sensitive center
in all your relations. Never let it close down . This
movement is essential for backward bends of the torso,
relieving congestion of the heart, relieving fear and anger,
expressing feelings, alleviating pulmonary congestion,
certain digestive disturbances, shoulder, neck ,and upper
back problems, and other endemic problems of this region.
Benefits: Hri bandha opens the heart chakra and thoracic
region connecting the throat (akasha) with the belly (fire)
through the air channel (anahata). It
accomplishes/completes jalandhara bandha by allowing it to
be fully activated -- as the chin approaches the sternal
notch, the sternal notch raises to meet the chin. This is the
motion that opens the chest, lungs, diaphragm, alleviates
stress on the abdomen, remediates kyphosis, and
accomplishes/completes upper backward bends (back
extension) for example as in raj kapotasana (king pigeon),
full locust (salabhasana), matsyasana, urdva-dhanurasana,
etc. It allows us to stay in touch with our deepest feelings
(anahata chakra), opens our heart, allows us to cope with
sadness and depression, counteracts sunken chest,
depression, down trodden and burdensome feelings,
cowering, fear in general, low self esteem, obsequiousness,
and so forth. Hri bandha is very useful in abdominal, lung,
chest, neck, throat, and shoulder complaints.
Cautions: People with military chest or over extended
thoracic curves (rare), scoliosis, or flat backs should consult
a yoga therapist.

Conclusion: Paramanandabandha
Many more bandhas exist as well. These all can be seen as
configurations assembled for the purpose of moving energy
through the overall system and/or specific sub-systems at
crucial junctures such as sluices, valves, and such. As such
they are closely aligned with mudras, except that hatha
yoga mudras combine asana, pranayama, bandha, and
visualization all together (See chapter on mudras).
All the bandhas have an energetic aspect which is
causal/precursory to the physical. Knowing what comes
first, we are able to merge the annamaya kosha (physical
body) with the energy body (pranamaya kosha). Thus an
energetic practice entertains both the physical and the
mental. A joyful practice embraces it. The mind also rides
the horse of the wind (prana) as nothing can move without
energetic direction. Thus the practice that focuses on
awareness, breath, and energy emotes (creates the bhava)
the remedial wavelike motion that stills the multiplit mind
patterns-- bhavas of BHAVA -- light of LIGHT; so that the
great Light of Universal Infinite can blaze forth burning up
all adhi/vyadhi, karma, klesha, samskara, and vasana--
instantaneous flash of grace. We offer this burnt offering
upon shakti's healing altar.
Bandhas by binding the external dissipating flow of energy,
binds the outflowing of mental wanderings of attention (or
the ordinary discursive mind). All the microcosmic energy
point connections are made and connected with the
macrocosm, hence the hologram is completed. This is not a
repression of the mind nor the vital energy, but rather the
activation of the vital non-dissipative energy which
reactivates repressed instinct, rekindles the intuition and
inner wisdom, activates the dormant circuitries and
evolutionary wisdom centers of the natural spontaneous all
encompassing and non-distractive transpersonal non-dual
mind. In one sense, the ordinary mind rides upon the wind
of the energy vectors (and is thus considered distracted and
dissipated because it has been brought outside of its
core/heart center and into a dualistic objectified and sterile
materialistic world. Yet at the same time, this ordinary mind
can be trained to direct the energy, focus and concentrate it
through pratyhara, pranayama, dharana, and meditation of
which the bandhas are the physical representation. Thus it
is a two way street where the energy moves, so does the
mind and likewise where the mind and attention moves so
does the energy. Here the practice of bandha with
pranayama over a period of time is very effective in
revealing these subtle interrelationships and thus from this
wisdom allowing us to attain conscious freedom from such
vrttis (disturbances) of consciousness (citta). This is why it
is emphasized that bandha practice as well as pranayama
practice should never be reduced to a mechanical science,
but rather as an awareness art -- a further exploration of
swadhyaya and consciousness answering the question:
"who am I, what is life, what is reality, what is
consciousness?"
If a partnership or meeting of mind and energy (cit prana or
cit shakti) becomes united -- inextricably bound together --
they reach through wisdom and method across the ocean of
suffering. Thus the practitioner does not try to master or
control the winds, nor does the practitioner become victim
of the winds. Rather the authentic student observes the
winds through investigating them through pranayama,
bandha, asana, and mudra and then is instructed by the
nature of prana (prana shakti) and follows this to its limitless
Source.
Thus the manomaya kosha aligns up with the pranamaya
and annamaya koshas, and they in turn destroy the veil of
limiting beliefs and false identifications (of the vijnanamaya
kosha) completely. The single ambrosial taste of that
exquisite alignment meshes with the anandamaya kosha to
produce the one taste of bliss. The Great All Inclusive
Yantra is enjoined together/completed.
All aligned, inner and outer -- and bound together in one
ecstatic prayer dance. The body and mind is part of the
Great Yantra -- they complete it. Here the inner
constellations align up, they mesh with the outer
constellations. One day exquisite balance -- synchronicity --
is achieved, neither inner nor outer -- rather non-dual -- The
energy residing in the central channel (sushumna) -
weightless -- burdenless devoid of sorrow -- Rainbow hued
Mandala -- Rainbow body vision!Oh Greatest Bandha
beyond the bliss -- Oh Paramananda Bandha -- The front
and the back, left and right, top/bottom -- All Directions/Noh
Directions -- at the Cross Roads of Love -- at the Hridayam
-- the Great Binding of Hearts within the HEART! All Our
Relations! All Life is inexorably bound together! Ho! It is
Sacred!
J ai Bhagawan!