Control and helming hierarchies of power is the way of the world, but have you ever imagined achieving this mastery over your own very self? Yoga, the ancient science of mind-body wholeness and spiritual overcoming is also partly dedicated to bringing energies of the self under voluntary control.
Yoga bandhas or body locks are employed to administer one’s energy system. A bandha does not merely refer to physical ways of bounding the energy within self. At an advanced level of practice, one can achieve it without even involving the musculoskeletal structure. The purpose of energy withholding is to be able to channel the stream of power in any action you are partaking without distracting distributions. The ideal level of practice is when you simply will to perform a certain activity and your system simply responds to that will force.
Now, the question is, how must you start to get to this ideal state of internally locked energies? You can begin by performing the most popular bandhas of yoga.
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Mula Bandha – The Root Lock
This is an enormously powerful bandha but equally difficult to master. Aimed at activating the root energies, this bandha is performed with a slight lifting of muscles at the center of the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is like a stretch of polythene suspended between two hip bones, which could be strung to activate energies concentrated in it.
The Mula Bandha is believed to establish a connection between our body and the earth energies. By restricting our vital forces or prana from flushing out by a downward flow, the bandha encourages a push of energy upwards to the solar plexus. When we are in the act of performing the Mula Bandha, our nervous, circulatory, respiratory, and endocrine systems are all brought into sync.
The characteristic effect of Mula Bandha is a reduced intensity in breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. Practicing body interlock with Mula Bandha on a regular basis will help you attain a sense of stability and strength. You can easily combine this bandha in singular yoga postures, thus optimizing its positive effects.
- Visualize the alignment of your internal organs before starting activation with Mula Bandha. The muscles to undergo the lift at the pelvis are different for men and women. For males, it is the central perineum while women have cervix. The pelvic void is hung between two sit bones, the bottom of the muscular field funneling into the anus.
- The muscle to be invigorated is at the center of the whole configuration. You need to contract the levator ani—the surface of the pelvic floor and absorb the sensations it emanates. Direct your entire awareness to the pelvic void region. Mark out which other muscles have undergone the constraints. Initially, you are bound to feel a squeeze in the anus but progression in practice will centre the energy on the pelvic stretch only.
- Synchronize your inhalations to the slow lift and constraining squeeze in the pelvic surface. This would be followed by a slow and restoring release synchronized with exhalation.
Try this squeeze and release routine in all the yogasana you practice from now on. Try maintaining the bandha as you do your pranayama and meditation as well. Mula Bandha is known to melt tummy fat and improve digestion.
Uddiyana Bandha – The Abdominal Lock
Beginners are invited to observe the abdominal lock starting with an easy seated or standing position. To be at ease, you can experiment with this posture either with the torso rounded or kept upright.
- Keep your hands on the thighs and apply mild pressure. Fold up the lower portion of your body bracing it to your legs. The motion created is to and fro, from downward to forward.
- Practice a deep and thorough inhalation and forceful exhalation.
- Follow this up by a different technique of inhalation. Take in a surge of the air but close it off from going further in by blocking the back of the throat with voluntary muscle contraction.
- Observe a diaphragmatic lift and widening of the rib cage.
- Now, mindfully try to lift up the abdominal region along the spine and hollow out the cavities of the belly by deeply exhaling out. Hold up the abdominal muscles directly under the rib cage.
- Feel the surge of energy being withheld.
This bandha must always be performed with an empty stomach for maximum impact.
Jalandhara Bandha- Neck or Chin Lock
The chin lock is effective for regurgitating the energy flow from the base of the throat towards our “third eye”- the center of pituitary gland between the eyes. This is to stimulate our thyroid to regulate our metabolism and cure throat diseases. The lock is also effective for elongating the spine when practiced in an integrated fashion with specific yoga poses.
- Begin in a comfortable seated position.
- Keep breathing deeply through your nose until the lungs feel half-full.
- Hold in the breath, and drop your chin to your chest while feeling the stretch at the back of your neck.
- Drop your shoulders off from under the ears and feel the weight loosening.
- The constriction can now be felt distinctly in your throat. Let the tension work upon the throat muscles.
- When you feel ready to let the tension pour off from your throat, release the lock, lift the chin, and breath out long and deep
Bandhas can magnificently transform the way you practice, start integrating bandhas in your daily yoga action from today!