|Maha Bandha/The Great Lock manifests when all 3 Bandhas activate|
Earlier this year I read a Top 10 list of what yoga teachers need to stop telling their students. On that list was stop cueing "Use your Bandhas!" I'm not here to shame anyone because I just love people who have the enthusiasm to share and practice yoga. I do however understand why the bandha cue made the list because it's a deep teaching that doesn't communicate clearly with a quick shout out like "Engage your Bandhas!" My feeling is using Sanskrit terminology like saying "Turn on your Bandhas!" is a fantastic thing to do however try to lead into this cue with a little yoga wisdom about the Bandhas and your students will be coming back for more.
This past October I led an in depth teaching about the Bandhas at Ramapo College's 200hr Yoga Teacher Training. This post is a quick mini overview for the gang and your inspiration.
To understand the Bandhas, a Sanskrit word which means your energetic locks, you may find it helpful to understand the Koshas. Yoga philosophy teaches that we have 5 Koshas which are sheaths which cover the Atman, the self. Imagine an onion and its many layers. We have layers too! The 5 layers are first the physical body layer called Anamaya Kosha. The energy body layer is called Pranayama Kosha followed by the mind and emotional body, Manomaya Kosha then the wisdom body, Vijnanmaya Kosha and finally the bliss body layer Anandamaya Kosha.
Envision yourself sitting in Pranayama Kosha. This is the energy body sheath which holds the chakras. It's the body of Prana where you have the network of Nadis, which means energy channels, that reside throughout the entire body from the outer edges to the core. The Sushumna, the central channel and most radiant of the nadis is found at the base of the pelvis and runs up the center of our being into Sahasrara chakra, found at our crown. Within the Sushumna Nadi, the central channel, we can experience the Bandhas, our energetic locks.
Below are some pictures I highlighted with 3 different Bandha locations within our energy body. I included their names and brief notes about each. There's so much more I can share about this topic but I hope this gets you inspired for now.
Mula Bandha is found at the base of the pelvis. It stops the downward breath at the base of the pelvis and redirects that breath upwards. Overtime and with plenty of practice you will find how to contract and release it. Eventually working with it will be less forced and more subtle.
Uddiyana Bandha is the abdominal lock. It is the gesture in which the navel draws in and lifts the energy of Mula Bandha upwards.
Jaladhara Bandha is mostly a gesture where the frontal brain is passive to meet the rising chest. A feeling of reverence will come over you as you sense holding energy within your heart.
If you're looking to dive deep into yoga wisdom you may want to consider participating in a Yoga Teacher Training for the first half of 2020. I will be teaching in depth teachings about the Energy Body and Gentle Warrior wisdom which is a Level 1 practice which excludes inversions and includes a restorative pose, meditation and pranayama at Bamboomoves Yoga in Englewood, NJ's 200hr Yoga Teacher Training. This training is registered with the Yoga Alliance and begins on January 11th. Please see www.bamboomovesenglewood.com for more details.