Bandha Wisdom

Natarajasana, Lord of the Dance variation

Bandhas means locks in Sanskrit. According to yoga we have several locks in our body we can contract to not let our energy spill out while we hold a pose and breathe in it. I feel there are three bandhas that are worth understanding and exercising especially if you're beyond your first stages of studying yoga. There is mula bandha the pelvic floor lock, uddiyana bandha the navel lock and jaladhara bandha the neck lock. I've heard from many teachers over the years that to use your root lock is to act like your stopping yourself from peeing. I would say using mula bandha is more subtle than that but feeling like you're stopping yourself from going is a good place to start.

Wherever you are right now sit or stand up tall with your chin parallel to the floor and both feet flat on the floor. Gently close your mouth and inhale through your nose. Feel your spine arch a bit as your ribs swell open with air and your chin moves a little bit away from your chest. On your exhale squeeze your inner thighs towards each other, feel your navel draw in and up, filling up your lower back body and let your chin ever so slightly fall towards your upper chest like your tapping a lid closed on yourself. Repeat by inhaling and feel your pelvic body, belly and throat open and when you exhale gently apply your locks. There's no deep squeezing when it comes to using your bandhas that is why yoga calls the bandhas a subtle body teaching. Like the chakras, mudras and chanting, the bandhas are abstract to explain and needs to be practiced and felt rather than over analyzed.

The benefit of having a little bandha wisdom is that once you get used to opening and closing them you will be able to hold poses and breathe in them longer, jump to the top of the mat and back with barely a peep as well stand on your hands in downward facing dog and arm balances without having your wrists and hands hurt. The pictures I posted are from my archives and although all postures require bandha work I picked postures that demand strong bandha awareness.

Standing back bend variation

Pincha mayurasana, forearm stand

Parivrtta hasta padangusthasana, twisted hand to toe pose

Bakasana, crow pose

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