A Beginner’s Guide to Mula Bandha

(Root Lock)
Tone your pelvic floor and improve your meditation y practicing mula
andha (the root lock)!
BY Rolf "ovik ON "eptemer #$% #&'(
1
Mula bandha, the root lock, is an important yoga practice, but one that is often tucked
into the back pages of yoga manuals. The Sanskrit ord mula refers to the root of a plant
or tree. !s in "nglish, root can also mean the foot or base of an ob#ect, or the origin of a
thing $the root of the problem%. &ere, mula indicates the base of the torso, the perineum,
and it is associated ith the muladhara chakra, loest of the energy centers along the
spine.
The ord bandha has many meanings, some contradictory. 'or e(ample, the ord has
been translated as )fetter, block, check, obstruct, restrain, lock.* +n this sense bandha is
described as the damming up of a ri,er. But it also translates as )bond, connect, put
together, unite, combine, #oin.* +n this sense bandha is described as bridging o,er a ri,er.
&o are these dissimilar meanings reconciled- +f e e(amine the practice of mula
bandha, perhaps the anser ill re,eal itself.
)hy *ogis +ractice Mula Bandha
Mula bandha is stabili.ing and calming. +t also enhances the energy of concentration.
Mula bandha accompanies both pranayama and meditation, and it pro,ides continuity
hen breathing practices are completed and meditation begins. S,atmarama, author of
the authoritati,e Hatha Yoga Pradipika $/ight on &atha Yoga%, states0 )There is no doubt
that by practicing mula bandha . . . total perfection is attained.* This is an impressi,e
claim. But can it be taken seriously, or is it an e(aggeration employed to encourage us to
learn the practice-
/et1s look at the system of energy that supports the body2mind, because this ill gi,e
perspecti,e to S,atmarama1s assertion. The chief a(is of prana is the spinal column,
hich rises from the perineum to the base of the skull. 3ithin this a(is is said to be a
central channel of energy $nadi% called sushumna. To other passages of energy, knon
as ida and pingala, are described as tining upard along the spine from its base, ending
in the left and right nostrils respecti,ely. +n ordinary life these to nadis dominate a
comple(, hierarchical netork of energy pathays. 3hen one or the other is acti,e, it
influences and colors the functioning of the entire system.
The Upanishads liken prana to a bird tied to its perch, fettered by ida and pingala. +t li,es
out its days going back and forth from one to the other, ne,er finding freedom. Yoga
adepts state that it is possible to restrain the in,oluntary alternations of ida and pingala
and to unite these to separate streams of energy. This is the literal meaning of hatha
yoga4the yoga in hich ha $the right breath% and tha $the left breath% are #oined. 3hen
these streams are united, prana is freed to ascend through the central channel of the spinal
column to its ultimate goal at the cron of the head, the sahasrara chakra. The initial
stage of this process is called the aakening of sushumna. 5ractices for attaining such an
aakening are said to bring about perfection, and that is at least one source of
S,atmarama1s praise for mula bandha.
The ( Bandhas
Yoga adepts describe three practices used to restrain the outard flo of energy and unite
it ith the upard flo of sushumna. +n uddiyana bandha, the stomach lock, the breath is
e(haled and the abdomen is sucked in toard the spine. This acti,ates energy at the na,el
center. +n jalandhara bandha, the chin lock, the chin is dran don to the base of the
throat, forcefully blocking the normal passage of energy through ida and pingala there.
The third practice is mula bandha, in hich muscles are tightly contracted at the center of
the perineum. 6ontraction of these muscles is said to affect the ner,ous, circulatory,
respiratory, and endocrine systems, and most important, the system of internal energy, or
prana.
S,atmarama maintains a certain mystery about all three of these practices. &e implies
that in order to achie,e their full effects they must be completed in a precise yogic
manner $taught through the grace of one1s teacher% and not as mere physical
manipulations. &e states that the full sadhana, or practice routine, associated ith these
techni7ues should be kept secret, )#ust like precious stones, and not be talked about to
anyone, #ust as one does not tell others about his intimate relations ith his ife.* !s
ith many such remonstrances, he cautions teachers and students alike that ad,anced
practices are meant for 7ualified aspirants ho ha,e completed preliminary stages of
training and maintain a direct relationship ith their spiritual guide. Nonetheless,
preliminary ,ersions of mula bandha are suitable for all students and ha,e beneficial
effects for health as ell as self8aareness.
A ,uick Anatomy Lesson
'ormed like a bol, the pel,ic girdle consists of three fused bones4the ilium, the
ischium, and the pubis. The pel,is is open at the bottom $the pel,ic outlet%, and at the
base of this opening is an area of the body called the perineum. 9ieed from abo,e, the
perineum is shaped like a diamond. The coccy( $the base of the spine% lies at the rear of
the diamond, hile the front of the diamond is the pubic symphysis, the #oint beteen the
to pubic bones. The left and right corners of the diamond are the to sit bones.
Mula bandha is associated ith the center of the perineum. +n men, mula bandha results
from contractions of the muscles surrounding the perineal body, hich lies miday
beteen the anus and the genitals. Some te(ts suggest that by applying light pressure
beneath this area $sitting on a soft, rolled sock or a specially designed cushion%
contraction can be stimulated. 5ostures in hich pressure is applied by sitting on the heel
of one foot ha,e also been described. 'or omen, the contraction of mula bandha is said
to be felt not at the perineal body, but at the area surrounding the base of the cer,i(. !s in
men, a soft cushion at the center of the perineum is said to stimulate the lock.
5ractically speaking, attention might be focused on the back, the front, or the middle of
the perineum4or on more than one area at a time. To practice mula bandha you must
learn to acti,ate the perineum at its center.
Once you can comfortably hold mula bandha, you can employ it during pranayama
e(ercises and meditation.
-o. to +ractice Mula Bandha
Since it is often difficult to isolate the contractions in this area, de,eloping aareness of
mula bandha is a matter of daily practice. +t should not be rushed, because orking
sloly and gradually allos muscles to strengthen at the same time that mental
discrimination is de,eloping. !n obstacle to practice is that the muscles of the perineum
tend to ork together, and fre7uently hen one contracts they all contract. +n addition, it
is 7uite easy to inad,ertently tense respiratory muscles along ith the perineal muscles,
and unnecessary sympathetic tension may occur in other areas of the body as ell. +t
takes careful attention and regular practice to sort this out.
"tep '
The first task is to de,elop the simple ability to contract and rela( the perineal muscles.
To begin, sit in any erect, meditati,e posture4preferably a cross8legged seated pose.
6lose your eyes: rest your body: and rela( your breath, feeling the sides of the rib cage
e(pand and contract hile releasing tension from the upper abdomen.
Breathing freely, and ithout coordinating the breath ith your muscle contractions,
s7uee.e the entire perineal region4front, middle, and back4inard and upard. ;eep
the breath as steady and smooth as possible, ithout pausing. 5ress in sloly, and hen
the contraction is complete, release it sloly. +n this e(ercise you are not trying to
discriminate beteen indi,idual areas, but to strengthen all the muscles of the perineal
region hile increasing aareness of them. <epeat this e(ercise => times.
"tep #
Ne(t, contract all the muscles of the perineum and hold to your comfortable capacity.
3hile the tension is being maintained, continue to breathe sloly and smoothly. Sense
the area around the anus, then mo,e to the central contraction at the perineal body or
cer,i(, and finally e(amine the contraction in the urogenital area. Tighten each area as
you focus on it, feeling the sensations there. Then release the entire contraction sloly,
and rela(.
"tep (
No coordinate contractions of the entire perineum ith the breath. +nhaling, contract the
perineum, and e(haling sloly release the tension. Time the contractions so that they
coincide ith the breath. ?erkiness or loss of control can be gradually reduced o,er time.
@uring this practice, begin to focus on the central region of the perineum, gi,ing special
attention to sensations that ill be associated ith mula bandha. <epeat this e(ercise =>
times.
"tep /
'inally, hen you are ready, center your attention on the center of the perineum, and
contract the muscles there tightly ith minimal in,ol,ement of the anal and urogenital
areas. This is the initial ,ersion of mula bandha, and it ill take some time to accomplish
it. There is no hurry, and it is better to prolong the practice rather than rush it.
"tep 0
Once the contraction can be held ithout affecting the breath, other sympathetic muscle
tensions are rela(ed, and you ill be able to comfortably hold mula bandha for some
time. Then it can be employed during pranayama e(ercises and meditation.
The Benefits of Mula Bandha
!t the beginning of this article e pu..led o,er to meanings for the ord bandha. One
translation characteri.ed bandha as a lock to dam the flo of energy, and another
depicted it as a bridge to unite energies. !s you do the practices described here you may
find that these seemingly contradictory meanings no make internal sense. Mula bandha
has the effect of restraining energy at the perineum: in this sense it is stabili.ing and
calming. +t also has the effect of gently enhancing the energy of concentration. +t is as if a
radio dial has been ad#usted properly so that the ,oice of consciousness can speak more
clearly.
+tAs often difficult to isolate the contractions in the perineal muscles. ThatAs hy
de,eloping aareness of mula bandha is a matter of daily practice.
! ,ariety of physical benefits ha,e been attributed to mula bandha. +t has been suggested
that through this practice unstable menstrual periods can be regulated, respiration rate
loered, heart rate and blood pressure reduced, sympathetic arousal calmed, digestion
impro,ed, and urogenital functioning harmoni.ed. These effects are noted by adepts in
yoga, but there seems as yet to ha,e been little scientific research to in,estigate them.
More important for yogis, through the practice of mula bandha the direction of the
donard8mo,ing energies located in the root chakra and the upard8mo,ing energies
located at the heart chakra are said to be re,ersed and the energies united. This internal
union leads to the e(pansion of aareness.
!t the least, ith regular practice of mula bandha you ill become more certain of the
place here muscle contractions con,erge. This is the location of the muladhara chakra,
the root from hich energy is said to permeate the human body and mind. 3hen this
energy is calm and secure, life itself is more rela(ed.
Mula Bandha in Action
Mula Bandha may be the most befuddling, underinstructed techni7ue in the orld of
yoga. &ere, begin e(perimenting ith ho to integrate Mula Bandha into your asana
practice.
By &illari @odle, se7uence by Tim Miller
The bandhas are mechanisms by hich a yogi can direct the flo of prana, the uni,ersal
life8force energy that animates and unites us all. 3ith a fe simple ad#ustments, you can
learn to integrate Mula Bandha, one of four bandhas mentioned in the &atha Yoga
5radipika and the Bheranda Samhita, into your daily asana practice.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
+n /atin, Cpel,isC means basin. +n Tadasana, you ant this basin to be in a neutral
position so that if the basin ere filled ith a precious li7uid, it ouldnAt spill out the
front or the back. To find this neutral position, e(plore the potential placement of the
pel,is. Stand upright ith your feet together and your arms by your sides. !s you inhale,
dra the hips and buttocks slightly backard and increase the cur,ature in the lumbar
spine. This is an anterior tilt. Then, e(hale and bring the hips and buttocks forard,
flattening the lumbar spine and pulling the pel,is into a posterior tilt.
@o this se,eral times, and begin to notice that hen the pel,is is in the anterior position,
the muscles in the loer back tighten and the inner groins shorten. 3hen it is in the
posterior tilt, the buttocks clench and, again, the groins shorten.
To find neutral, stand ith your pel,is anteriorly tilted, then lightly lift first the pubic
bone and then the pel,ic floor as you lengthen the groins4this is Mula Bandha. To find it
from the posterior position, dra your hips slightly back until the buttocks rela( and the
lumbar spine regains its natural cur,e. !s you do this, lift the pel,ic floor and lengthen
the aist and groins4again, this is Mula Bandha.
3hen your pel,is is neutral and you find Mula Bandha in Tadasana, youAll feel a sense of
stability ithout gripping.
Adho Mukha Svanasana variations (Prana Dog and Apana Dog)
@onard8'acing @og is an e(cellent pose in hich to practice Mula Bandha, especially
if you e(plore to different e(pressions of the pose0 5rana @og, hich is linked to the
inhalation, and !pana @og, hich is linked to the e(halation.
'rom @onard @og, inhale and e(tend your spine by taking your head and shoulders
toard the floor, draing your hips aay from your hands, and lifting and spreading your
sitting bones. This is the 5rana @og.
Then e(hale and fle( your spine by tucking your pel,is, slightly rounding your shoulders,
draing your ribs up, and looking toard your na,el. No youAre in !pana @og. Notice
that at the end of the e(halation, the pel,ic floor naturally dras upard4this is Mula
Bandha.
3ith the ne(t inhalation, create 5rana @og by e(tending your spine from your tailbone,
but donAt allo your ribs to sink too far toard your thighs. ;eep lengthening and lightly
lifting the area beteen the coccy( and the pubic bone, beteen the pubic bone and the
na,el, and beteen the na,el and the loer ribs. !s you e(hale, return to the !pana @og
fle(ion position of the spine, and again focus on ho the pel,ic floor lifts.
&ereAs hy0 +n 5rana @og it is more difficult to access the lift of the pel,ic floor, hereas
that lift happens naturally at the end of the e(halation in !pana @og. 3ith the subse7uent
inhalation, there is a natural tendency to release the pel,ic floor and allo the rib cage to
drop toard the thighs.
&oe,er, it is possible to retain the lift of the pel,ic floor ith the inhalation if it is
accompanied by a light lift of the pubic bone, na,el, and loer ribs. This action brings
length and leanness to the aist so that the ribs and thighs are dran slightly aay from
each other. This leads you into a hybrid pose, hich contains both e(tension and fle(ion
and creates a neutral pel,is, making it possible to engage Mula Bandha during both the
inhalation and the e(halation.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)
9irabhadrasana ++, hen done ell, is a classic illustration of Mula Bandha in action. But
all too often the pel,is listlessly drops into an anterior tilt, the front thigh turns in, and the
belly becomes slack. 'rom here, the buttocks go back and the loer ribs #ut forard. The
knees buckle inard, bringing too much eight to the inner edges of the feet.
To help remedy this, find Mula Bandha in 9irabhadrasana ++ by lifting the pel,ic floor,
the pubic bone, and the sternum. Bring your pel,is into a more neutral alignment by
mo,ing your buttocks forard, so that theyAre underneath your shoulders as you dra the
loer ribs back. Ne(t, mo,e the sitting bones toard each other. This facilitates the
idening of the front of the pel,is and helps dra the thighs and knees aay from each
other. Bring eight onto the outer edges of the feet and lift the arches.
Sirsasana (Headstand)
+n &eadstand, #ust as in 9irabhadrasana ++, youAll often see the pel,is dropped into an
anterior position ith the ribs #utting forard and the buttocks sticking out. This causes
the loer back to compress, and it creates a sense of disconnection beteen the torso and
legs. !pplying Mula Bandha can realign the pel,is and pro,ide a link that integrates it
ith the torso.
3hen youAre in an in,erted position, Mula Bandha is often more natural and easier to find
because gra,ity is already draing the pel,ic floor in the right direction. So, as the pel,ic
floor lifts, e(tend the front of the body by reaching strongly upard through the legs and
feet and lengthening the groins and aist. To bring the bottom o,er the shoulders,
lengthen the hip fle(ors, dra the sitting bones together, and dra the tailbone toard the
pubic bone4this is Mula Bandha.
3ith Mula Bandha engaged, dra your inhalation up to the na,el, sternum, throat,
eyebro center, and finally to the cron of the head, all the hile lengthening the central
a(is of the body toard the ground. 'ollo the e(halation through the central a(is and all
the ay back to the mula, or root of the spine.
Paschimottanasana (Seated or!ard o"d)
Begin in @andasana $Staff 5ose%, an e(cellent pose to feel the diamond shape of the
pel,ic floor, hich is bordered by the pubic bone in the front, the coccy( in the back, and
the sitting bones on the sides. Bring your eight forard on your sitting bones so that
they get hea,y and the lumbar spine comes into its natural cur,ature. !s you press don
into your sitting bones, lift your pel,ic floor and dra your pubic bone up. Then lengthen
your aist, lift your sternum, dra your shoulders back and don, and drop your chin
toard your chest. /et the legs roll inard until the inner ankles touch.
<each forard and grab your toes. Straighten your arms and e(tend your spine as you
inhale: bend forard on an e(halation. 'ocus on draing the sitting bones toard each
other hile pressing them don, and then lift the pel,ic floor. This approach to
5aschimottanasana naturally engages Mula Bandha. The effect ill be less strain around
the sitting bones here the hamstrings originate and less sensation of o,erstretching in
the loer back.
In a #ind$
Some teachers feel that Mula Bandha is o,erused in !merican yoga. C+n our o,erdri,e
culture, thereAs already too much tension on the pel,ic floor due to o,erork, se(ual
frustration, feelings of failure, disappointment, and the onslaught of images across the
media,C says Tias /ittle. C3e o,eremphasi.e Mula Bandha, in part because itAs familiar to
us.C !na 'orrest purposely donplays Mula Bandha for similar reasons. C3hen + as in
+ndia, + had a reali.ation about Mula Bandha,C she says. C+ got sick from the food there,
and + began to understand its purpose in a country plagued ith dysentery. +n !merica,
here eAre plagued ith constipation, + donAt think going around contracting the anus is
a ise thing.C
'or the already tense, stressed, and depressed, the unskillful use of Mula Bandha can
ha,e a negati,e impact. So ho do you kno if itAs orking against4rather than for4
you- CThe first instruction is alays to trust your inner knoing,C says ?oan &arrigan, a
brahmacharini $monastic% in the Shankaracharya tradition of !d,aita 9edanta hoAs also
a practicing psychotherapist. C3ith proper engagement of the bandha, there should be a
sense of intensified ,itality and greater aareness. +f it doesnAt feel right, donAt do itDC
Bandhas for Beginners0 +ntro to YogaAs +nterior /ocks
By /auren +mparato
?une 1E, =F11 1=0E> 5M "@T
1.Gk 5in it
1G H1
F Stumble
II "mail
6omment
Those of you that kno me ha,e heard about my first yoga class. 'or those of you that do
not $yet%, +All spare you the nitty gritty and #ust say this 88 it as comical, and torturous. +
arri,ed ith basketball shorts don to my knees and old J/ Stussy T8shirt. Models
pranced painlessly on their mats hile crunchies ith closed eyes made lamaa. type
sounds in the background. !nd the teacher ent on and on and on about getting in touch
ith your se(ual organs hile harnessing your inner poer and energy like the &indu
gods. &alf ay through class + faked a cramp in order to escape ith some Kdignity.1 Oh,
and + had shot a double espresso before hand to Khelp me seat.1 Needless to say L
disaster. But luckily life, and people, e,ol,e.
+ ent back to the teacher, and the studio, a eek later, and ithin M months + as
practicing e,ery day, yes, still in my baller shorts and mega Ts. + as )getting better* L
hard not to hen you start unable to touch your toes and barely able to hold a plank L but
+ as not soaring. +n fact, it as not until + understood hat bandhas ere that my
practice really e,ol,ed, on the inside and on the outside.
Bandha hat- Bandha is a ord + heard my teachers say in class daily, a ord that +
rote off as Kyogi hippie crap1 until + e(perientially finally understood hat it as all
about. !nd gi,en that took a fair amount of time $o,er a year of N day a eek practice%, +
am going to lay it out for you so you and your practice can take off !S!5.
1n "anskrit bandha means to lock% to hold% or to tighten! +t also refers to a lock in and
of itself.There are M principle bandhas in the body, and a fourth that ties them all together.
The ancient yogi philosophers said, and + concur, that hen you master the locks, your
master the yoga practice, the practice on the outside 88 floating in and out of asanas,
holding for long periods of time, and managing ne positions L and the practice on the
inside L consistent single pointed concentration, steady and long breath, and a calm, clear
mind. !nd in a straight8up modern, estern sense, the bandhas help you regulate and
control all your internal systems, hormonal, se(ual, metabolic, digesti,e, and more.
3hether you care about the east, the est, or both, the bandhas are a critical factor to a
killer you, and to yoga. Note, bandhas should not be practiced while pregnant.
Mula Bandha2 +n a ay Mula Bandha is the easiest bandha to e(plain. ?ust imagine you
are in the middle of a M hour traffic #am to the airport, the highay has turned into a
parking lot, and you ha,e to pee. Or, ladies, you are in hite short shorts alking through
the park and you get your period a day early. The muscles you instinctually contract to
pull up and hold in hat is dying to flood out can be generally considered Mula Bandha,
or at least the Mula Bandha region.
+n Sanskrit mula means root, and thus Mula Bandha is the root lock. To find it, sit, stand,
or e,en be in an asana, and if you are a man, contract the area beteen the anus and the
testes. +f you are a oman, contract the muscles at the bottom of the pel,ic floor, behind
the cer,i(. +nitially the anal sphincter ill also contract, but ith time and practice you
ill be able to hone in on the Mula Bandha region and lea,e the rest aside.
No don1t freak outD <emember, + thought all this as hogash too. But the truth is, that
Mula Bandha should be held throughout your entire yoga practice. That1s right 88 the
hole hour or hour and a half. There are countless reasons, but 7uite simply think of it as
the lock that allos your energy to flo up, not don and out. +f your energy is forced to
flo up, and stay inside you, for that matter, it ill gro e(ponentially, lea,ing you ith
that ama.ing feeling of Kfloating1 as you alk out of out of class. +t ill also allo you to
float +N class, as an engaged Mula Bandha allos you to be lighter on your limbs, and
thus lighter on your mat. This lightness pre,ents you from becoming fatigued hen that
teacher, aka me, makes you hold something for hat seems like fore,er and a day, or do
the umpteenth 6hatarunga. +n a more physiological sense, Mula Bandha stimulates the
pel,ic ner,es, the genital system, the endocrine system, and the e(cretory system. +t has
also been shon to relie,e constipation and depression.
3ddiyana Bandha2 Mo,ing up from mula bandha e
ha,e the second bandha, Oddiyana. +n Sanskrit uddiyana
means to fly up, or to rise up. This Kflying up lock1 is
thus all about your insides flying upards, intangibly
meaning your energy, tangibly meaning your diaphragm,
stomach, and abdominal organs.
To find Oddiyana Bandha start standing up tall, feet
about a meter apart. +nhale through your nose and reach
your arms up alongside your ears. "(hale out of your
mouth and fold forard placing your hands #ust abo,e
your knees. 3ithout inhaling close your lips, straighten
your elbos, and feel your abdominal all and organs
push up and back toards your back. +t should feel
somehat like a suctioning back and up of e,erything on
the inside. +f you are doing it correctly and happen to glance at your profile in a mirror,
you should see your aist Marilyn Monroe8style tiny iny, ith the ribs noticeably
protruding o,er and in front of your abdomen or belly button. <etain as such for as long
as possible, and e(it the bandha ,ia inhaling through your nose and standing up straight,
raising your arms up along side your ears, then e(haling through your nose again as you
mo,e your arms don.
Oddiyana Bandha can be one of the most transformati,e aspects of your yoga practice,
especially as you get more ad,anced. +t mo,es the energy upards ith much more force
than Mula Bandha, thus alloing you to in,ert and #ump more easily, as ell as float
forard and back more lightly, and tist more deeply. Because the abdominal all is
pressing the organs and tissues of the abdominal ca,ity backards, Oddiyana Bandha
creates a soft massage for the deeper internal muscles of the loer back.
+n a more day8to8day sense, Oddiyana Bandha is the ultimate remedy for abdominal and
stomach ailments, from constipation to indigestion. +t stimulates your digesti,e #uices,
thus increasing your metabolism, and tones your o,erorked abdominal organs. +t also
balances the adrenal system, relie,ing stress, lethargy and tension. !nd best of all, it is
the sure fire ay to get flat ashboard abs ithout e,er doing any
crunches.
4alandhara Bandha2 ?alandhara Bandha is pretty much the only
double chin you ill ant, and try, to ha,e. +n Sanskrit #al means
throat, #alan means net, and dharan means stream or flo. Thus in
the most basic sense, ?alandhara Bandha can be considered the
throat lock that controls the flo of energy in the ner,es and
blood ,essels of the neck.
To find ?alandhara Bandha sit up tall, either in a comfortable cross
legged position or on your shins ith your butt on your heals.
5lace the palm of your hands on your knees. +nhale sloly and
deeply through your nose, then bring your chin toards your neck
and lift your sternum e,er so slightly. 5ress don on your hands
and straighten your elbos, pull your chin back further, and retain
as long as possible. To e(it lift your chin, inhale the remainder of capacity into your
lungs, and e(hale. +f you felt a nasty double chin or ere stressing about someone taking
a picture of your profile, you did it rightD
Onlike the first to, ?alandhara Bandha is normally performed in combination ith
specific breathing practices, and rarely done on its on. That said, it is immensely
poerful, as it compresses the sinuses on the main arteries of the neck and in doing so
helps regulate the circulatory and respiratory systems. The pressure on the throat helps to
balance the thyroid and metabolism. !nd if no one is looking at you at ork, engage
?alandhara Bandha as an instant trigger for mental rela(ation as ell as stress and anger
relief.
Maha Bandha2 This the big ;ahuna. Maha in Sanskrit means great, and Maha Bandha is
the combination of all three aforementioned bandhas.
Sit in a comfortable seat, on your shins or cross legged, palms of the hands on the thighs
or knees. +nhale fully through your nose, and e(hale completely through your nose.
S7uee.e s7uee.e s7uee.e until e,ery last drop is out. 3ithout inhaling engage Mula
Bandha, then find Oddiyana Bandha. +nhale a tiny bit and lift your chest, and from there
engage ?alandhara Bandha. <etain, pressing your palms don, as long as possible. 3hen
you ha,e had enough, lift your head, inhale fully, and release all the bandhas.
Maha Bandha gi,es the benefits of all three bandhas and regulates the entire endocrine
system. !nd as an added plus, it makes you a much better simmer, runner, and of course
/ittle Mermaid impersonator.

That1s thatD Super simple. So lock Kem all up and atch ho your yoga practice, and your
body, ill take offD 'or at home classes that introduce the bandhas to you in a simple,
approachable ay, check out +.!M.YOO. on iTunesD
3sing andha to control energy from the
reath
Two poles of a battery between which energy flows in this way bandhas conduct breath
through the body. !orking against the force of gra"ity and achie"ing lightness. Here you
will find the necessary bandha know#how...
Bandha allo.s energy to flo.! This is technically something very sutle! Therefore
physical action and muscle contraction are only a small part of andha. Mula
Bandha and Oddiyana Bandha are the to most important ,al,es in !shtanga Yoga.
Mula Bandha is introduced .ith the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles! +magine,
that you urgently need the toilet, but there isn1t one around, you1re probably already
using Mula Bandha. To strengthen eak pel,ic floor muscles, ;eigel recommends that
you practise stopping the flo of urine hen using the toilet. !lternately contracting the
muscles to the front and then the rear and then concentrate on achie,ing a gentle
contraction somehere in the middle, you are no one step closer to Mula Bandha.
!cti,ate this Mula Bandha at the end of an inhalation, as the e(halation starts. @ra the
pel,ic floor in and up.
*ou achieve 3ddiyana Bandha% y gently dra.ing the stomach in.ards! !t the end
of an e(halation, hen the need to inhale begins, imagine a golden thread that is attached
to fingers idth under the na,el, that is pulling in and up. 'rom and anatomical
,iepoint, the trans,erse abdominal muscles ill be lightly acti,ated.
Mula Bandha is linked to e5halation% 3ddiyana Bandha to inhalation! Both andhas
remain continuously activated throughout the .hole practise! To begin ith this is
,ery difficult and you ill keep noticing that you1,e forgotten the bandhas. See this
though as a success as you ha,e reminded yourself. 3ith practise you1ll remind yourself
about bandhas time and time again, until it ill become a constant companion to your
practise.
6rom and anatomical vie.point% these t.o andhas support reathing! Try it out for
yourself $<ead the te(t sloly aloud, ith a short pause after each section%0
/ie completely rela(ed on the floor, on your back. Shut your eyes and breathe calmly in
and out through your nose. /ay one hand on your na,el. You can feel ho your abdomen
rises ith each inhalation and falls ith the e(halation. 3hat you are actually feeling, is
the action of your diaphragm, hich contracts under the ribcage during inhalation thereby
pushing the abdominal organs forard.
3ith the ne(t e(halation, acti,ate Mula bandha and then Oddhyana Bandha ith the
folloing inhalation. No the stomach can no longer rise up, but the diaphragm is
contracting like before. The diaphragm presses against the abdominal organs that are
being supported in front by Oddiyana Bandha and from belo by Mula Bandha. !s a
result of this support of the abdominal organs during inhalation, the diaphragm lifts the
ribcage.
Notice that during breathing, these to bandhas are inseparably connected. Both are
necessary, to firmly support breathing.
7ue to the comined effect of the andhas .ith the reath% firmness in the torso%
length in the spinal column and room for movement are created! Stability in the torso
is essential for poerful body mo,ement. Only a stable torso can be raised into almost
breathtaking handstands. The length created in the spine minimises pressure on the
inter,ertebral discs during deep forard bends and a,oids a possible impact of the
spinous processes of the ,etebrae during seemingly impossible backbends. The sucked8in
belly also achie,es space for ,arious !sanas $postures% in hich e(cessi,e ,olume in this
area ould be a disad,antage.
Bandha is frankly a natural refle5 for po.erful movement of the ody! You can
obser,e ho bandhas are acti,ated on their on hen you lift a hea,y ob#ect. Bymnasts,
acrobats, bungy8#umpers, ballet dancers and other athletes kno this poer house under
,arious names and use it as an essential aid in their sport.
8nergetically% the andhas create t.o opposing forces like the poles of a attery%
et.een .hich energy can flo.! Mula Bandha dras energy toards the loer end of
the spine, into the Muladhara 6hakra: +t stands for the element "arth. Mula Bandha
connects you ith this earthed energy, gi,ing you firmness and stability. Oddiyana
Bandha literally means Pflying up). Oddiyana Bandha dras 5rana $energy% out of it1s
foundation, the Muladhara 6hakra, up through the spinal column. Oddiyana Bandha
connects you ith the element air, the energy of the !nahata 6hakra in the middle of the
ribcage. Oddiyana Bandha gi,es lightness, helping you to o,ercome the force of gra,ity.
1n the eginning there .as nothing and out of the nothingness there came sound!
This original sound is called "panda! The ,ibration of this first sound di,ided the
nothingness into to opposing forces. /ike plus and minus, hich together again gi,e
nothing. The hole uni,erse e(ists in the field created by these opposing forces, in the
,ibration of this original sound. +f the sound fades into silence, then the uni,erse ill
disintegrate again into nothingness. !s it is described in the Tantra. The hole cosmos is
a temporary dance beteen the to opposing forces, ascending energy $5rana% and
descending energy $!pana%, inhalation and e(halation, male und female, light and dark,
hard and soft, positi,e and negati,e, sun and moon, destroying and procreating L
Oddiyana Bandha and Mula Bandha.
The practise of Ashtanga *oga symolises the dance of opposites% that the .orld
make up! 3ith each inhalation you stri,e to mo,e upard, to e(pand, ith each
e(halation you root yourself firmly in the ground, becoming small and compact. 3ith
each inhalation, Oddhyana Bandha conducts energy upards, alloing you to become
light, connecting you ith the air. 3ith each e(halation Mula Bandha conducts energy
donards, letting you become hea,y, connecting you ith the earth. +f the forces of
opposition in you are in balance, then you ill find yourself in internal harmony and
bodily health.
4alandhara Bandha is the third energetic valve that you can use in Ashtanga *oga.
You can achie,e ?alandhara Bandha, hen you loer the chin a little. <oll your tongue
back and up against the palate and smile slightly. ?alandhara Bandha redirects the
ascending energy in the spinal column in a spiral motion forards. ?alandhara Bandha
connects you ith the ether element, ith the !#na 6hakra in the middle of the head. The
chin is not loered in all positions. Ne,ertheless the energetic 7uality of ?alandhara
Bandha persists.

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