Improve your practice with bandhas-do you know what bandhas are, where they are located and why they are used by yogis? I didn’t either until years into my yoga practice. In this post I’ll cover the bandha basics so you can begin using these powerful locks.
In Sanskrit bandha means to lock, hold or tighten. There are three bandhas to consider, the Mula Bandha, Jalandhara and Uddiyana Bandha. Bandhas are postures where organs or parts of the body are contracted or controlled. This is done to safely manage the prana (energy) generated by pranayama or asanas. Through these techniques energy is retained in the body and directed toward the right areas of the body.
Mula bandha or root lock controls apana, the downward flow of energy. Engaging the root lock balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, improves the health of the reproductive system and increases sexual retentive power in males. With practice you can learn to apply Mula bandha throughout your entire yoga practice. This effort will help you feel lighter on the mat and prevent fatigue.
Jalandhara Bandha or chin lock, regulates the flow of energy and blood to the heart area, the glands in the neck and the head. It is imperative that the chin lock is practiced during pranayama to prevent headaches and dizziness.
Uddyana Bandha or abdominal lock, channels energy in the central energy meridian (the shushumna nadi). The Mula bandha is often practiced with Uddyana Bandha. A less intense version where the abdominal muscles are contracted can be used at the beginning of the exhalation in pranayama practice. In asana this contraction stabilizes the core, protecting the back. Applying this lighter version of Uddyana bandha throughout the entire practice helps to tone the abdominal area and bring strength to your practice!
Finally, there is Maha Bandha or the Great Lock. This bandha is a result of Mula, Jalandhara and Uddyana bandha being applied at the same time. The Great Lock can be used during pranayama or in preparation for meditation. This is done by coming to a seated position, exhaling and activating the three bandhas. After several seconds, release the bandhas, raise the chin and inhale deeply. This can be repeated a few more times.
As explained by B.K.S. Iyengar,
“While practicing Maha Bandha, the yogi attempts to reach the true source or mula of creation. His goal is the complete restraint or bandha of the chitta which includes the mind (manas), the intellect (buddhi) and the ego (ahamkara).”
As you can see, the use of bandhas is very powerful. They are an essential part of a maturing yoga practice. These basic will get you started along the path to mastery. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have as you give these bandhas a try.
Love and Light,