Nabhi Bandha is accessed through the subtle contraction of the abdomen four fingers below the navel by pulling the abdomen in towards the back of the spine. The area above, Uddiyana bandha, and the area below, Swadhi bandha should remain unaffected.
Isolating these three actions is essential if the correct action is maintained for each bandha.
THE THREE ACTIONS
Uddiyana bandha – navel – in and up action – Manipura chakra
Swadhi bandha – pelvic cavity – pelvic integrity – Swadhisthana chakra
Nabhi bandha – four fingers below navel – front to back – Nabhi chakra
It will take practice to divide the three actions, but it is crucial.
FULL UNDERSTANDING OF YOGA
There is a plethora of bandhas which include Janu, Kulpha and Mani which are not usually mentioned or included in yoga classes, even though they are integral to a full understanding of a Hatha yoga practice.
BALANCE & SUPPORT
On a gross level engaging bandhas support joints, prevent hyperextension and build strength. On a subtle level they work to oppose the polar forces of Ida and Pingala, or positive and negative bringing harmony and balance.
CONTROL & PRECISION
Kapalbhati is an example of a Hatha yoga practice which must be practiced with control and precision. Kapalbhati can easily be contraindicated through a rapid pumping action that causes the torso to be thrown up and down implying force and a lack of control. This will stimulate respiratory and heart rate and may cause hyperventilation. The sympathetic nervous system is prompted along with the flight and fight response. One of the benefits of Kapalbhati is said to be decreasing blood pressure, which is not the case if the practice is erratic and forced.
Kapalbhati practiced with caution is far more effective and will be felt on a much deeper level. The practice will be slower and more precise targeting the abdominal contraction at Nabhi Bandha. The aim is to ensure that the body above and below is still with the trunk stable. The effect calms the nervous system enabling the parasympathetic nervous network.
NABHI BANDHA – THE PRACTICE
A dramatic yet simple example of how Nabhi bandha affecting posture can be seen in Samastitihi. Correcting alignment is unique to the individual thing as we are all slightly different and Nahbi bandha is an effective method to achieve this
In Samastitihi pull the tummy in below the navel so the Pubis lifts and space is created in the lumbar spine. This is not a gross action and the affect is to engage the Rectus abdominals, which lifts the Pubis and sets the Pelvis into neutral.
With practice these actions become second nature and we can access them subconsciously, not just in asana but throughout the day. The effect is subtle but profound.
A useful exercise is to take the breath below the navel, and with each exhale draw the area below the navel to the back of the spine. Try adding two breaths to every exhale, so if the in breath is a count of four, breathe out for six. Each time add a couple of breaths to the exhale as you increase the inhale. Please don’t force or strain in any way. Use this in your asana practice and notice the stability it creates.
NABHI BANDHA & POSTRUAL BALANCE
This practise will bring renewed awareness to Samastitihi, and overall postural balance.
Observe the profile of someone in Samastitihi and look for the natural curves of the body. Notice how there is a rising succession of curves in the body from the ankles up to the cervical spine. The aim is to achieve and sustain as far as is possible neutral curves that are neither overly lordotic nor kyphotic. Engaging Nabhi bandha is a potent method of correcting an overly lordotic lumbar spine.
NABHI BANDHA – UNIVERSAL CONCEPT
In martial arts this area is called Dan dien or Hara. It is located below the navel and is the source of energy which builds the physical body allowing the development of Qi (bioelectric energy) and Shen (spirituality)
Hatha yoga prescribes bandhas as a method for safely transcending the Granthis, driving Prana through Shushumna nadi and harnessing subtle energy. They will build vitality and equity to all areas of life.
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