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Bandhas for Beginners

Posted 25/9/2019

Bandhas are energetic locks used to focus attention, create heat and control prana (energy) flow. Essentially the bandhas are muscle contractions. There are three main bandhas and a fourth which is all three used together.

 

Mula Bandha – Root lock

Mula bandha is achieved by contracting the muscles at the base of the torso: the pelvic floor for women and the space between the testes and anus for men.

”On the physical level, practising mula bandha creates attentiveness in the supportive musculature of the pelvis. This increases the stability of the pelvis, and, since the pelvis is the seat of the spine, its stability creates a safe environment for spinal movement. Thus, mula bandha strengthens—and teaches the importance of—the solid foundation that should underlie any movement.”1

 

Engagement of the mula bandha gives yoga poses more lift which helps with jumping in flowing yoga sequences.

Practice: Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

  1. Start by lying on your back, knees bent with feet hip width apart and arms by your sides.

  2. Place a block or cushion between your thighs and squeeze thighs together to hold in place. Breathe in and lift the pelvis off the floor, continuing to squeeze the block with the thighs, pressing down evenly into the feet.
  3. Try not to put any weight into the arms.
  4. Stay with the pelvis raised for a couple of breaths then mindfully role back down on an outward breath.


Uddiyana Bandha – Abdominal Lock

This bandha is very often performed at the same time as the mula bandha, drawing up the pelvic floor can naturally lead to drawing up the abdomen. Regular practice enables the yogi to exhale more fully, to breath more easily and to “fly”! Engagement of the uddiyana bandha (“core” muscles) helps with lift and upward motion in arm balances like crow and handstand and holding poses like plank.

Practice: Cat Pose (Viralasana)
  1. Start on all fours with the hands beneath the shoulders, knees hip-width apart and spine in a neutral position.
  2. Exhale completely, rounding the back and drawing the tail bone down.
  3. Holding the breath, draw the stomach muscles in and up under the ribs.
  4. Release by breathing in again and allowing the belly to relax.

 

Jalandhara Bandha – Throat lock

Jalandhara bandha can be practised alone or with the other two bandhas. It appear in shoulder stands and bridge postures and stimulates the thyroid gland.

Practice
  1. Sit in a cross legged position.
  2. Inhale and retain the breath.
  3. Dip the chin down and draw into the chest, lifting the chest. Avoid rounding the neck.
  4. Hold for as long as comfortable, then release by exhaling and raising the chin.


Maha Bandha – Great Lock

Once the other bandhas have been mastered they can all be practised simultaneously. Practising all three bandhas at the same time delivers the benefits of each of the bandha all at once.

Practice
  1. Start by standing with knees slightly bent and a neutral spine.
  2. Fold from the hips, allowing your hands to rest on your knees, keeping the spine straight.
  3. Draw the pelvic floor up, breathe out and draw the navel in and up towards the ribs.
  4. Holding the breath, drop the chin to the chest whilst keeping the neck straight.
  5. Hold for as long as comfortable then release by breathing in, lifting the chin and returning to an upright standing position.



Bibliography

www.mindbodygreen.com/0-2583/Bandhas-for-Beginners-Intro-to-Yogas-Interior-Locks.html

www.doyouyoga.com/a-beginners-guide-to-bandhas-99266/

https://www.ekhartyoga.com/blog/the-bandhas-preventing-yoga-injuries

Power Yoga – Beryl Bender Birch

 

References

1. David Life - http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/to-infinity-and-beyond



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