Greetings and salutations yoga fans! Hope you’re having a great 2015 so far. in this article we’ll talk about an interesting concept in yoga called the Bandhas.
There are 3 Bandhas in the body that act as locks, forming an energetic suport system. Being conscious of these Bandhas and tuning into them can help deepen your experience with your yoga poses, as well as just about any physical activity…even basic posture can be improved. A “mini yoga practice” of toning each Bandha can be done right at your desk, and can relieve menstrual cramps, back pain, neck stiffness and general fatigue.
The first Bandha is Mula Bandha. Mula means “root” in Sanskrit, and this one is located at the root of your spine. To engage this Bandha, imagine times in which you needed to use the bathroom, but were stuck in traffic or something. Contract, hold and lift up your muscles in the lower abdomen, pelvic and sphincter regions, and you’ve got it.
The second Bandha is called Uddiyana, which means “fly up” in Sanskrit. Think of this concept when contracting your “core” or stomach muscles…imagine the muscles lifting in and up. Try sucking in your stomach, creating a concave hollow below the ribs (or imagining one) then feel as if you’re lifting lifting all those muscles and internal organs upward. The image of the yogi Krishnamacharja shows a (rather exaggerated) demonstration of this.
The third Bandha is called Jalandara, and it’s a more subtle lock that occurs in the neck. In Sanskrit jal means throat, jalan means net, and dharan means stream or flow. So this Bandha is at the top of the chain and controls the flow of that energy to the neck. To engage this Bandha, try sitting in easy pose, palms down on knees with a long, straight spine.Inhale slowly, then bring your chin towards your neck and lift your ribcage slightly. Press down into your palms and straighten your elbows, pull your chin back further, feeling a gentle stretch and elongation in the back of the neck.
Now try inhaling slowly and engaging Mula, then Uddiyana, then Jalandara. Feel the energy starting at the root of your spine and lifting up all the way through the crown of your head. Feel an open channel for energy to flow through you. Hold the contraction of all 3 Bandhas for a for seconds, then exhale and release.
It takes some time to get in tune with the Bandhas, so be patient. With practice, you’ll notice yourself tuning into them and engaging them in various yoga poses, lifting weights at the gym, picking up your child, etc. Feel free to comment on your observations and experiences!