This Bandhas post is inspired by my recent teaching about our inner energetic locks at Ramapo College of New Jersey's 200hr Yoga Teacher Training special Bandhas Study class. I hope these notes enlightens this topic. It sure takes imagination, patience and practice to embody these energetic teachings.
In yoga we have the 5 Koshas. They are 5 body sheaths. The 1st is Annamaya Kosha which is the physical flesh and bones layer of us. Then there's the Pranayama Kosha which is the energy body sheath. It's considered our subtle body or you can call it our pranic body. Pranayama Kosha includes the nadis which are energetic channels that run through us. Sushumna nadi is the central channel which holds the chakras. Within Pranayama Kosha we also find the Vayus which are the 5 characteristics of our prana. You can visualize the 5 Vayus as energetic patterns that are found within the breathing cycle.
At first there are 2 Vayus that are important to understand to connect to the Bandhas. Prana Vayu which is our inhale, originates at the diaphragm and moves upward to the collarbones and expands into the chest. Apana Vayu, the exhale is found in the navel and moves down into the pelvic floor. It is a downward and inward aspect of our breath. Mula Bandha is an energetic lock that stops that downward breath from spilling down and outward. Mula Bandha moves Apana Vayu up. It's an energetic concept which lightens one's jump to the top of the mat, assists you to lift your feet off the floor in crow pose and much more. When you find Mula Bandha there's a grace and a feeling of strength that comes over you. You can't miss it when it happens.
Uddiyana Bandha is found in the navel center. Uddiyana means flying up. Imagine an energetic bird flying up from your core body and upward when you exhale. When you engage this mid body lock Samana Vayu, the belly breath aspect of your pranic body is stimulated. Engaging Uddiyana Bandha tones the abdomen and lower back in addition to healing and strengthening your digestive body.
As we move up the Bandha body we arrive to the neck, where we find Jalandhara Bandha. It's a gesture. A subtle bowing of the chin. It's where the mind and eyes bow to the rising chest and heart. While practicing Pranayama, breath control, yoga philosophy suggests that the rising in breath needs to be redirected and contained within the torso by engaging Jalandhara Bandha. Visualize this Bandha as an energetic net which catches the in breath and lets all that good prana float around the throat which utilizes Udana Vayu as well as directs your healing prana to the chest to energize the heart center where you will find Vyana Vayu.
There are so many layers to these energetic teachings. My suggestion in learning and embodying these Sanskrit words and energy body concepts is to simply show up on your mat and practice. Eventually you will feel it all.