The Bandhas – The three most commonly discussed bandhas are:
Mulha Bandha – navel
Uddianya Bandha – perineum
Jalandhara Bandha – pit of the throat
The Bandhas form an integral part of Hatha yoga and even though they are a part of the subtle anatomy, can be accessed through the physical body.
WHAT ARE BANDHAS?
Bandhas are often described as locks that harness and compress energy to drive it through Shushumna nadi. The effect is to pierce blocks in the subtle anatomy for the safe ascension of Kundalini.
Another way of thinking of The Bandhas is as a key that unlocks blockages in the subtle body for the realisation of potential and personal liberation.
THE BANDHAS – HATHA YOGA
Hatha yoga prescribes Mulha Bandha to undo the knots or “Granthis” which are difficult to untie and hold us to predetermined patterns such as fear, domination and piousness.
Muhla bandha is a physical practice of contracting the centre of the perineum which enables a connection with the subtle anatomy of the Bandhas. Practicing Mulha Bandha is a fundamental part of the Hatha yoga system which strengthens the pelvic floor and including the more subtle elements of Prana.
PRANA & APANA
Prana is subdivided into five major and five minor Vayus or winds, and of those five major winds the two most relevant to a Hatha yoga student are Prana and Apana. Prana can be thought of as an upward force and Apana a downward force. Apana operates in the lower abdomen and is responsible for elimination and is a necessary function. If Apana is not balanced with the opposing force of Prana, it can lead to lethargy and heaviness. The practice of Muhla bandha is a method to turn Apana upwards for energy and lightness.
Uddianya bandha is in the navel region and is a powerful tool to tone the abdominal muscles, particularly the deepest core muscles the Transverse abdominus Which act a girdle and a stabiliser.
On a subtle level Uddianya bandha works on Manipura chakra and the digestive tract to increase digestive fire, and better assimilation. This refers to the assimilation of food and on a subtle level the ingestion of new ideas and concepts.
Jalandhara bandha is located at the pit of the throat and activated by lifting the chest and dropping the chin to create a light contraction. Vishuddhi chakra is adjacent and positioned along the cervical spine at the back of the throat. On a subtle level Vishuddhi chakra affects communication and is stimulated by Jalandhara bandha. Activating Jalandhara bandha works with Vishuddhi chakra for more effective and truthful communication. Of the physical benefits Jalandhara bandha is said to be effective at working with the thyroid gland to regulate the metabolism.
THE BANDHAS – JANU & MANI
Hatha yoga prescribes the bandhas as one of the tools to cleanse and purify the subtle body for the safe accession of Kundalini along Shushumna Nadi. This article is only discussing the three most recognised bandhas, although there are many more. Bandhas such as Janu and Mani when employed during an asana practice, will support joints give lightness to a practice.
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