WANT TO STRENGTHEN YOUR DAILY YOGA PRACTICE AND FEEL ENLIGHTENED? YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO DO YOGA BANDHAS AND THEIR BENEFITS.
What Are Bandhas?
Bandhas are dam things! I mean literally a “DAM”. Yup!
A river-dam prevents the natural flow of water, to divert that water or water-energy where it is required the most! Umm… one which is known to me is the-hydroelectricity!
Learning yoga and yogic philosophies may come up with lots of struggles and confusion! After years of struggling to distinguish between the bridge pose and bow pose, you may still stumble upon Ushtrasana and Utkatasana. Then comes the understanding of prana or breath. When you feel easy with breathing techniques, the teacher instructs you to go with the Ujjayi or Victorious breath. As soon as you become constant with making that Ocean-sounding sounds, you are taken to the Bandhas.
In Hath yoga, the Bandhas are pranic, or energetic locks in different areas of the body, that confine energy within your body. By engaging your Bandhas, you can control the flow of energy during your practice.
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Why Bandhas Are Essence Of A Yoga practice
Essentially, they keep energy “locked” within the body to support your physical practice. That said, the Bandhas are key to deepening your yoga practice.
The purpose of perfecting with the bandhas is to learn to control and seal prana (life energy) within the central energy channel along your spine called Sushumna Nadi. This brings stability and lightness to your physical body and helps to unblock your seven chakras. Chakras are the energy centers along this Shushumna Nadi, which work together to balance your body, mind, and soul.
How Many Types Of Bandhas?
There are three principle Bandhas and one that binds the three together known as Mahabandha or the Master lock. You should master each one separately before practicing the Maha-Bandha
How To Do Yoga Bandhas And Bandhas Benefits
Pronounciation: MOO-lah b-AHn-dah
This is the “root lock.”Ideally, It should be engaged throughout your entire yoga practice. By practicing Mula Bandha, you contain the energy and allow it to float up, rather than flow down or out. As the energy floats up, so will you! This Bandha contributes to lightness on your body parts such as hands and feet, prevents fatigue, and saves you from the yoga injuries.
How To Do Mula Bandha
Imagine 4 points, 2 sit bones, tail bone, and pubis, and try to bring them closer together. Imagine an energy vortex in this imaginary center and try to draw this energy upwards towards the crown.
“Even an old person becomes young by constantly practicing Mula Bandha” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Cervical spondylosis, high intracranial pressure, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Pronunciation: ew-DE-aw-nah b-AHn-dah
Uddiyana is so called by the Yogis because through its practice the Prana, flies up the Sushumna.
The Uddiyanbandha is called the rising or flying bandha because through its practice, the great bird (shakti kundalini) flies upward with ease” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
In Sanskrit, the word uddiyana means “to fly” or “rise.” So, Uddiyana Bandha is your “flying up lock.” In one sense it refers to your upward energy. Physically, it refers to your diaphragm, stomach, and abdominal organs. By engaging Uddiyana Bandha, the energy is contained in the torso. Engage this Bandha when you’re moving forward, backward, or upside-down. It can also help to deepen twists. Moola Bandha and Uddiyanbandha together help in inverted postures such as Sirsasana, Sarvangasana, and handstands such as Bakasana.
How To Do Uddiana Bandha
You can do it more easily if you know how to do the stomach hollowing practice. In stomach hollowing, you exhale completely and take your navel in towards the spinal cord. In Uddiyanbandha, you have to activate that upward motion so that your diaphragm moves up. You may easily sense that the part of your torso above the diaphragm got heavier than the part below it. This can be achieved easily by pressing your knees from both the hands, in an upward yoga posture. In an inverted posture, when your energies are aligned with the earth’s gravity, the Uddiyanbandha becomes easier.
‘Uddiyana Bandha is never done without Mula Bandha (Mula can be done without Uddiyana)’
Colitis, stomach/intestinal ulcers, diaphragmatic hernia, High blood pressure, heart disease, raised intracranial pressure, pregnancy, IUDs
Pronunciation: jah-lon-DAR-ah b-AHn-dah
In Jalandhara Bandha, a perfect contraction of the throat will ensure that the nectar does not fall into the fire (the Surya (The Sun) situated in the navel)” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Jala means net or network. In the neck, there is a network of nerves and arteries which connect to the brain, known as the nervous system. Dhara means stream or flow and is often translated as “pulling upwards”. Jalandhara reverses the upward flow of prana and sends it downwards preventing it from escaping from the upper body.
That said, the Jalandhar Bandha is your “throat lock,” as it opens or closes the energy flow along the neck. Jalandhara Bandha is typically performed with pranayama combined with the other two Bandhas. In the inverted yoga postures such as Halasana and Sarvangasana, locking your throat is the the most important step to prevent the neck injury. The action of Jalandhara Bandha creates pressure on the throat and balances the thyroid, and it can optimize metabolism.
How to Engage Jalandhara Bandha
Sit in sukhasana or any cross-legged position and take a breath in through your nose. Bring the chin down and lift the sternum to meet the chin. Feel the muscles around your jaw and neck engaged. Hands can press against the knees to draw the chin even further into the sternum.
It involves lengthening the neck, drawing the chin back and down towards the top of the sternum.
- Slightly elevate the sternum and upper rib cage, bringing them toward the chin.
- Lower the chin and jaw, placing them onto/ near the area of the upper chest at the notch between the two collarbones. If you cannot touch the upper chest, you can place a rolled washcloth under the chin.
- To exit, slowly lift the chin and inhale softly then exhale.
Neck injuries, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
MahaBandha The Master Lock
Pronunciation: MAH-ha b-AHn-dah
Other names of Mahabandha
The great seal, Bandha traya, the triple lock or tri- bandha
“By contracting the perineum (moola), performing uddiyana, and locking Ida and Pingala with Jalandhar, Sushumna becomes active. By this means prana and the breath become still. Thus death and sickness are conquered” Hath Yoga Pradipika
Maha means “Master” “Great” or “Supreme.”
“All three bandhas combined create the Maha-Bandha”.
How to Engage Maha Bandha
- Sit in siddhasana/Siddha yoni asana with the left heel pressing against the perineum/vagina (to apply pressure to mooladhara chakra). The right foot may be placed on top of the left thigh. Or, the right heel can be placed near the left ankle in synchronisation.
- The palms are placed on the knees and the spine should be erect and the head straight.
- Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through the nose.
- Exhale fully and forcefully through the mouth.
- Retain the breath outside.
- Apply three bandhas one by one- Firstly apply mula bandha then uddiayana bandha and finally jalandhara.
- Hold the bandhas and the breath for as long as is comfortable without straining.
- The HYP suggests rotating the awareness from mooladhara chakra to manipura to vishuddhi mentally repeating the names of the chakras as you concentrate on each.
- Release the bandhas in the reverse order i.e. jalandhara, uddiyana, and mula.
- Inhale slowly, in a controlled manner once the head is upright.
Mula Bandha (Root Lock), associated with the pelvic floor, pushes energy up toward your navel while also preventing too much of it from leaking out; Uddiyana Bandha, associated with your core, moves energy farther up; and Jalandhara Bandha, located at the throat, pushes energy down and prevents too much energy from escaping. When upward (prana vayu) and downward (apana vayu) energies meet at your navel and you activate Uddiyana,
it’s like two stones being rubbed together to create purifying heat and awaken Kundalini, said to lie dormant at the base of the spine.
Should not be practiced by people with high blood pressure or low blood pressure, heart conditions, stroke, hernias, stomach/intestinal ulcers, those recovering from any visceral ailment, and pregnant ladies.
Physical and Spiritual Benefits Of Bandhas
Bandhas have extensive benefits. They can further your physical practice as well as your meditative and spiritual practice.
Let’s go through them all one by one.
Moola Yoga Bandha Benefits
In a more physiological sense, Mula Bandha stimulates the pelvic nerves, the genital system (it works wonders for your sex life!), the endocrine system, and the excretory system.
It has also been shown to relieve constipation and depression.
Mula banda also affects the Muladhara (root), Svadistana (sacral), and Manipura (solar plexus) chakras bringing more balance to them.
Uddiyana Bandha Benefits
Uddiyana Bandha (with the continuous support of Mula Bandha) propels the already awakened Kundalini energy up through the Sushumna Nadi affecting the next two chakras Anahata (Heart Chakra) and Vishuddha (Throat Chakra)
Uddiyana Bandha can bring wonderful results in all the aspects of your yoga practice, especially as you become more adept. It moves the energy upwards with much more intensity than Mula Bandha, thus allowing you to invert, float forward, and back more easily and effortlessly.
It allows deeper twists which tones and massages the internal organs increasing efficiency,
Uddiyana Bandha also helps to correct abdominal and stomach ailments, from constipation to indigestion.
It stimulates your digestive juices, thus increasing your metabolism.
It balances the adrenal system, relieving stress, lethargy, and tension.
It paves a sure-fire way to strong, toned abs.
Jalandhar Bandha Benefits
Activating Jalandhara Bandha enables the upward movement of Kundalini energy from the lower three chakras (when you activate it Mula Bandha), the fourth and fifth chakras corresponding to the heart and throat (from the activation of the Uddiyana Bandha), and into the Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) and Crown Chakra (Sahasrara).
Mahabandha gives the benefits of all three bandhas combined
- Vitalises the whole body with prana.
- Regulates the endocrine system.
- Rejuvenates the body and slows down the aging process.
- Soothes anger.
- Stimulates the flow of psychic energy.
- Calms the mind before meditation.
Wrapping up- How To Do Yoga Bandhas
To sum up, Bandhas are “locks”, or valves, in specific areas in the body, that once engaged can control (retain) dissipating pranic energy.
Bandhas should be practiced on their own before incorporating them into your Asana practice. These Bandhas, or “energy locks,” will help unlock your potential in yoga Practice and other aspects of the life.
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