SUNDAY SPECIAL: Bandhas

51 Days Yoga Consciousness Series 2nd May-21st June 2021

Knowledge of Yoga is infinite, boundless and timeless. “Learning Yoga is an everlasting journey that leads you within and Within is where you find the world of immortal bliss”. –Mitraasha

Namaste All My Yoga Yaatris! May Yog Bless You!

The idea behind running this 51 Days Yoga Consciousness series is to proffer my modest learnings and share the divine pearls of Yoga science with people at large. Let’s have a conjoint intent to learn, implement and extend the wisdom of Yoga with a positive co-action and harmonious reverberation amongst each other.

Bandhas: The body Locks

What does Bandha mean?

Sanskrit word bandha refers to a kriya in Hatha Yoga, which is a kind of internal mudra mentioned as a body lock and closely translates to bond or to restraint. It is a lock or a bind in practice of yoga performed to control and guide, regulate the flow of prana (life force energy) to different parts of the body. Practice of bandha inculcates intense muscular contractions. Performing the bandhas has many benefits that we will discuss ahead.

Limitations/Contradictions

  1. The practice of these locks should not be performed in below mentioned conditions Menstrual period, high or low blood pressure, hernia, ulcers of the stomach or intestine, abdominal diseases, glaucoma, heart ailments.
  2. It is very important that the bandhas are practiced after evacuating the bladder and bowels well, on an empty stomach.

4 Bandhas

The four bandhas are as below:

1) Mula bandha

Mula bandha is a preliminary bandha mentioned in traditional yoga and its  earliest textual mention is in the 12th century Shaiva Natha text Goraksha Shataka. It describes it as a yogic technique to attain regulation of breath and awaken the kundalini shakti.

Mula is a Sanskrit word which means root and Mula Bandha translates to “root lock”. In this lock, the perineum muscles are contracted inward and lifted upwards to hold energy. Practice of mula bandha initiates energy flow to the rectum, stimulates the pelvic muscles and urogenital organs.

How to practice?
  • Sit with your back, neck, head erect in any meditative posture.
  • With an inhalation, pulling inward and upward contract the entire pelvic floor, then gently release with an exhalation. Repeat this 5-6 times.
  • Now practice the similar contractions but this time with reversing the breathing such as contraction on the exhalation and relaxation on the inhalation.
  • Once comfortable with this warm up. now bring your focus on the perineum, between the anus and genitals and with an inhalation contract and pull that area inward and upward and release with an exhalation. Repeat this 5-6 times.
  • Now again, like earlier reversing the breathing pattern, practice the contraction with the exhalation and relaxation with the inhalation.
  • Practice a few times until you can distinguish the perineum while it contracts, and hold the contraction for about ten or more breaths.

2) Uddiyana bandha

Uddiyana bandha, also known as the abdominal lock, is the abdominal bandha which has its mention in hatha yoga, especially for the Nauli purification. Uddiyana is a Sanskrit word which means rising up.

This is a second bandha in which energy moves upward more rigorously than it does in mula bandha. Uddiyana bandha invigorates the abdominal muscles when they are pulled in when the abdominal wall is pulled in, whereas the chest raises upwards.

This act creates a gouging at the bottom of the rib cage and inhalation starts only after the abdominal contraction is released.

It is vital to follow the steps accurately and also the breath retention should not be extended for long in absence of a capable guide.

Practice of this asana is beneficial in case of constipation, weak metabolism, it stimulates better functioning of the adrenal gland and alleviates stress and anxiety, it also reinvigorates the the heart chakra.

How to practice?
  • Stand erect with the feet approximately two feet apart, parallel to each other, knees bent, hands placed on the thighs right above the knees and elbows straight. 
  • Ensure the weight of the upper body is maintained onto the arms.
  • Now gently exhale and hold the breath out.
  • Now pull the abdomen in and up as much as you can without straining it and keeping it firm.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds.
  • And then gently release the abdomen, inhale smoothly, without a gasp or sudden rush of breath inwards and breathe normally.
  • Repeat at max two more times.

3) Jalandhara bandha

Jalandhara bandha is the chin bandha that has its mention in Hatha Yoga. Jalandhara is a Sanskrit word which has its roots in the word jal meaning throat and dhara meaning flow. 

It is done by bringing the chin down towards the chest and hence also called a chin lock or the throat lock. This bandha limits the upward flow of energy and is mostly used while practicing breath retention,however  it can also be done without holding the breath.

Practice of this bandha boosts the functioning of the thyroid, parathyroid glands, supports the cardiovascular system and enhances respiratory systems.

How to practice?
  • Sit in a meditative posture with your head, neck, back in one straight line. Keep the palms on the knees and ensure that the knees are firmly touching the floor.Now gently take a long deep breath and then hold it.
  • Next contracting the throat muscles, bend the head forward to touch the chin to the chest in a way that the chin is posited between the two collar bones in the hollow of the throat.
  • Stay in this position for as long as you are comfortable but do not over strain as you are holding the breath within. Initially begin with a few seconds and then increase to a minute or more as per your capacity.
  • To release the lock, release the palms and arms, raise your head and exhale out to reach the starting position. Breathe normally. Practice maximum 2 times.
  • Once you become comfortable practising Jalandhara Bandha with a breath held inside, perform the same steps with the breath suspended which would require consistent practice.

4) Maha Bandha

Maha Bandha -the great lock combines all the other three bandhas. Maha is a Sanskrit word which means great, supreme. It is also known as the supreme bandha or the triple lock.

Maha bandha extends the health benefits of all three other bandhas.

It is performed by applying the above mentioned three bandhas synchronously, starting from jalandhara bandha, then uddiyana bandha and ending with mula bandha and they are released in the reverse order.

Once you have mastered earlier mentioned three bandhas individually, then amalgamate them and practice the Maha bandha.

How to practice?

  • Stand erect with the feet approximately two feet apart, parallel to each other, knees bent, hands placed on the thighs right above the knees and elbows straight. 
  • Ensure the weight of the upper body is maintained onto the arms.
  • Now gently exhale and hold the breath out.
  • Next apply the jalandhara-bandha, then the uddiyana-bandha and lastly apply the mula-bandha.
  • Stay in the position for three to five seconds and then gently release all the three bandhas in reverse order of going into bandhas, breathe normally. Practice a maximum of two more times.

Benefits

Besides the long term worthwhile advantages, the other benefits of this bandhas includes enhanced digestion and elimination, boosting of energy, purifying of the energy channels, toning of the visceral organs, rejuvenation of overall working of the alimentary canal, composing the mind for meditation, advancing mindfulness and aiding to diminish depression.

Thought of the day: “When the breath is unsteady, all is unsteady; when the breath is still; all is still. Control the breath carefully. Inhalation gives strength and a controlled body; retention gives steadiness of mind and longevity; exhalation purifies body and spirit.” – Goraksasathakam

Link to day 35: Trikonasana-The Traiangle Pose https://kreately.mars-cdn.com/day-35-trikonasana-mitraasha/

Link to day 37: Ardha Matsyendrasana-The Spinal Half Twist Posturehttps://kreately.mars-cdn.com/day-37-ardha-matsyendrasana-mitraasha/

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