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Demystifying Bandhas

Updated: Sep 14, 2022




When doing breath work, you are tapping into the power source of kundalini and the bandas play a big role in awakening this energy.


I will write another article to explain what kundalini energy is because there is a lot of confusion around that too. This article will simplify the bands and also give you practical information how to successfully activate the master lock (all 3 bandas - mulha, uddiyana and Jalandhara )


The simple technique of bandhas has been lost, mostly due to the increase in popularity of yoga that is distorted to “asana-fitness” and contests that feed microdosing of validation via headstands, lotus, scorpion on social media and other places.


Honest practitioners with true intentions for Self-Realization and freedom get discouraged and I don’t excuse myself from this. The false appearance of physical prowess has consumed my consideration of its efficacy.


We are all on our own journey with a unique perception about it. So let me bring to your awareness the efficacy and power of the bandhas.



Don’t be fooled by their simplicity.


Truth is always simple. The mind seeks for complication because then it gives itself the label of being useful to analyze and decipher it not something useful. This is an illusional trap all of us fall for.


When they are added onto other techniques, like kumbhaka (breath hold), they reveal their power and it makes a huge difference.


Bandha means ‘body lock’. A specific atmosphere of the body is firmly but gently activated which influences the subtle body directly. What exactly does it lock? It locks in prana so it doesn’t escape or leak. When we are seeking and looking outward and responding and reacting to the outside world, our prana leaks and gets transmuted through awareness and attention, feeding what you are paying attention to. So in turn this allows awareness to travel inward and leads to higher energy that can be directed upward and inward. This is where it connects to bandhas being a strong kundalini stimulator.


They are also physically very beneficial, for they massage internal organs, nerves, stimulate endocrine glands, activate meridian lines, invoke a purifying heat and many more.



I will discuss all 3 bandhas individually, that makes up the Maha Bandha/ ‘great lock’.

1. Mula Bandha (Perineum lock)

There are many complicated explanations already so I will keep it simple. It is the name for the perineum contraction. For males it is between the scrotum and anus and for females it is between the vulva and anus.


All it requires is awareness at that point and to contract. Yes it is that simple yet people that have never done this before still struggle to locate this awareness and muscle-mind connection. So let me explain in more simplistic detail.


You can easily create this pathway with dedicated practice. Either lying down and contracting the perineum or when seated, pressing your heel gently into your perineum or sitting on your heel crossed legged on that spot helps bring awareness there. When sitting in this position it also stimulates the root chakra and also the Sushumna itself.


For beginners it might be difficult to identify between the Mula Bandha , anus and also urinary tract muscles that prevent urine from being excreted.


So allow me to shed light on this because the one is a Bandha and the other two can be considered as mudras.


Please note that by doing all 3 together the effect is even more potent, so if you can’t distinguish between them in the beginning that’s not a problem.


Mudra means ‘seal’. It is a gesture to increase the flow of subtle energy. To most this means hand gestures but an Audra can be done with any body part actually. Think of your body being an electrical circuit. When you activate a mudra , it is almost like connecting certain electrical wires and the light (energy) of that circuit is switched on.


Vajroli/Sahajoli (sexual organ contraction)


Vajroli mudra - This is the mudra for men.

Sahajoli - This is the mudra for women.


Both do the same thing but because men and woman have different sexual anatomies it is named differently. This mudra involves the same muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine. So it is the activation of the urethral sphincter that will lead to the activation of subtle energies.


If you can’t differentiate between your perineum muscles and your urethral sphincter it is ok as both together will result in a more powerful activation. It is valuable to understand that there is a difference nonetheless.


Ashwini Mudra (anal contraction)


This mudra is activated by contracting the anal sphincter. This is not your but cheek muscles. It is ok if you can’t yet differentiate the difference. With this explained difference your experience will be more informed and awareness can curate whatever needs to be.


With awareness practice you will be able to activate all 3 of these individually and also together. Opening up to this awareness is such a magical gift, because these are powerful ways to sublimate creative energy which is the same as sexual energy and raise it to higher centers.

With this understanding, it is ok to activate all 3 of these at the same time when the reference of mula bandha is indicated.


2. Uddiyana Bandha (abdominal lock)

This mudra is activated by contracting the anal sphincter. This is not your but cheek muscles. It is ok if you can’t yet differentiate the difference. With this explained difference your experience will be more informed and awareness can curate whatever needs to be.


With awareness practice you will be able to activate all 3 of these individually and also together. Opening up to this awareness is such a magical gift, because these are powerful ways to sublimate creative energy which is the same as sexual energy and raise it to higher centers.


With this understanding, it is ok to activate all 3 of these at the same time when the reference of mula bandha is indicated.


3. Jalandhara Bandha (chin lock)

This lock is found in the throat and the simple yet effective way to activate it is to drop the chin down towards the chest and try to connect the chin to the top of the sternum. To draw a little more awareness and include a mudra you can also pull your Adam's apple upward.


This bandha prevents prana leaving the body and stimulates energy flow around the throat chakra which is partially blocked for a lot of people due to trauma, not speaking their truth and many other reasons.


There is also a direct influence to the thyroid with the chin putting a mechanical pressure on this area. This means that metabolism, heartbeat and mental activity might slow down resulting in deeper relaxation.


Please be mindful if you have issues with your cervical spine (neck vertebrae), a lot of the time this is not a good idea, but only you can be aware if it has a positive or negative feedback. Be gentle when the body asks.



 

There is this beautiful analogy regarding the bandha locks and it includes a swan.


When a swan rests it rests its head onto its chest and gracefully floats.


When you activate the Maha Bandha/ great lock, this is a great image to inspire grace instead of forcing.


The chin rests on the chest blooming open and the diaphragm is directed upward but the back of the diaphragm is spreading out towards the back, just like the wings of the swan. The Mula bandha is ensuring the stability of a graceful float without tipping over.



 

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