Bandhas Yoga Studies Online Notes

Here are a few online notes from the Bandha Yoga Studies Special Class I taught at Ramapo College of New Jersey:

Bandhas is a Sanskrit word to describe the energetic locks found within the body. When activated and engaged these energetic locks which are found in 5 different locations of the body support strengthening as well as lifting the body against gravity's downward pull. Visualize what an arm balance, an inversion or jumping to the top of the mat from downward facing dog does to the body. All of these postures lift you from earth's downward pull. When you practice yoga consistently and connect to these energetic locks, you get lighter in all of your postures as well as within your daily life off the mat.

There are 6 bandhas and the first three major bandhas are:

Mula Bandha is your root lock and is located within the pelvic floor. This lock consists of muscles that sit between the pubis bone and coccyx. This area is known as the pelvic floor. Contracting these pelvic floor muscles creates a subtle lifting feeling. Activating and engaging Mula Bandha while practicing yoga can help create space and support with pre existing lower back pain and can help ward off any tension that could happen to the low back body.

Uddiyana Bandha is the active engagement of the abdominal muscles. It is often referred to as the upward flying lock because when practiced your prana flies up the central channel which is called the sushumna. When you inhale to stretch and expand your mid body then exhale where you draw your navel in towards your spine and up towards your ribcage you both tone and create space within the abdominal body where multiple organs reside. Here you also exercise the diaphragm muscle as well as remove stagnant air from the lungs.

When Mula Bandha which governs the lower chakras and Uddiyana Bandha which stimulates the 3rd, 4th and 5th chakras are activated and engaged there's an feeling of an upward physical lift from the inside out. Imagine the understanding of Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha that's necessary to jump lightly from downward facing dog into a crow pose.

Jalandhara Bandha is the throat lock. It is the engagement of the muscles in the front of the neck that draws the chin down towards a lifted chest. Think of it as a net like a fisherman's net that catches and releases prana when it's closes and opens. Jalandhara Bandha is always exercised after Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha are engaged. Practicing Jaladhara Bandha stimulates and exercises the thyroid which balances the regulation of hormones responsible for a healthy metabolism and growth.

Jaladhara Bandha activates one's intuition which is found within the third eye as well as connects an individual their unbound potential which is found within the crown chakra.

Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Jaladhara Bandha are being practiced here in Halasana/Plow Pose and above in Salamba Sarvangasana/Supported Shoulder Stand. All 3 Bandhas are engaged here making the great lock, Maha Bandha. In Maha Bandha the nervous system is relaxed as your energy is drawing inward versus outward towards external stimuli.

The next big bandha and the smaller two bandhas are:

Maha Bandha is the engagement of all three bandhas. It is known as the great lock. When you engage all three locks in Maha Bandha you are exercising and healing nearly every system in the body, such as the respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, excretion. You are also engaging muscles in the pelvic floor, core body in addition to the cervical body. Here the thyroid, an endocrine gland which regulates your metabolism and ability to grow is stimulated. Practicing Maha Bandha increases your overall wellness.

Finally the two less spoken about but still very important bandhas are Hasta and Pada Bandhas. Pada Bandhas are found within the feet and Hasta Bandhas within the hands. Activate and engage Pada Bandhas while standing by bringing awareness to the four corners of your feet and the energetic lift of your arches by using the muscles on the inner and outer legs. When it's time for your hands to hold some or all of your weight such as in plank pose or arm balances, before engaging the first 3 bandhas to support and lighten the internal body, do feel the hands connect to the ground through the base of the index knuckles and thumb knuckles while there is a suctioning upwards feel through the center of the palms. This lifting action within the palms plus the engagement of Mula, Uddiyana and Jalandhara Bandhas will create a feeling of ease as well as strength within your wrists, elbows and shoulders.


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