Hri bandha when activated opens the heart centre, creates space in the back, lifts the trunk up off the pelvis, opens the arm pits and stretches the lower back. It does involve a host of small movements, but when engaged will change the way you think about Samasahiti.
CENTRE OF CENTRES
Hri means heart or core and is called the centre of centres which goes beyond the personal and refers to the universal centre. Practising Hri bandha not only opens the physical heart centre but will also work directly on our subtle body through the connection with Anahata chakra. It is said the heart centre is where we experience feelings or attempt hide from them so working with Hri Bandha will open us up to our emotions and feelings.
Hri bandha when applied with a light Uddiyana bandha and Mulha bandha creates stability from the pelvic floor up to the thoracic region. Awareness of postural alignment in Samasthiti is enhanced, creating a solid foundation for the postures that follow.
It’s worth remembering if the alignment in Samasthiti is out then the postures which follow can’t possibly be correctly aligned. In fact, as we progress through a series of postures which become more complex then the alignment will steadily move further away from neutral. Spending time understanding correct alignment in Samasthiti through the gross and subtle body will reap benefits throughout the practice.
An example is upward facing dog (Urdhva mukha svanasana) a far more complex posture than Samasthiti. In Samasthiti establishing correct alignment is preserving or creating a neutral spine and pelvis, and once understood maintaining it throughout the practice. Observing students in up dog clearly demonstrates a basic lack of understanding, or lack of knowledge of alignment.
On countless occasions I observe students with a collapsing lower back, which is evidence that the pelvis is far from neutral. The cervical spine is hyperextended, and this is evidenced through the head being thrown back, closing the back of the neck. The chest collapses and the shoulders roll forward, revealing that the whole trunk is collapsing.
The lumbar spine is highly vulnerable to overextension if not supported adequately. This is achieved quite simply by engaging the rectus abdominus, which lifts the pubis and creates space in the low back.
The cervical spine is also susceptible to injury through poor posture, having some of the smallest and lightest bones of the body. while carrying out functions that are essential for the durability of the body. The cervical vertebrae must support the head, protect the spinal cord, while giving manoeuvrability to the neck and head. Crucial blood vessels and nerves pass along the neck and are protected by the cervical vertebrae. The cervical spine is a delicate structure considering the important role it plays in many areas, making it essential to maintain correct alignment.
If the lumbar spine is not supported through engaging the core muscles, and the legs are not engaged, the trunk will collapse putting a lot of stress on the wrists.
So engaging Hri bandha does employ a variety of small adjustments but will shed light on realigning posture.
Standing in Samasthiti
- Bring the hands into prayer at the chest
- Engage a light Mulha and Uddiyana bandha
- Take the awareness to the front floating ribs, and spiral them towards the back, an raise the area above the kidneys
- Simultaneously lifting the chest and ribcage up off the pelvis and maintain lower bandhas
- These actions will make space in the abdomen, and allow the entire ribcage to expand and lift
- The sternum moves forward and up, and the chin drops
- At the same time the armpits spiral from the front, upward and around towards the back
HRI BANDHA-HARNESSING SUBTLE ENERGY
Working with bandhas, harnessing and channelling subtle energy, will create a lightness and openness in our posture and practise. Working with Hri bandha will create space in the thoracic cavity, which is essential for back bending. Visualise energy radiating out from the heart centre, from all directions, will open the intercostal muscles, allowing the breath (prana) to be fully assimilated.
Freeing up this area, connecting with Anahata chakra will free us up to face our feelings and fears.
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