The Bandha Approach

Bandhas often get overlooked in yoga. We truly need to get up close and personal ( understand) our bandhas in every practice– pranayama and asana

The Bandhas Benefits

Bandha is also known as lock or bind. Bandha is an ancient practice that is deeply rooted in the yoga tradition. Bandha is a term of Sanskrit language which means to tighten, to lock, to block. The purpose of bandhas is to lock the energy and gain control of your life force- prana. Bandhas are not only utilized to gain control of your subtle energetic system but at the same time directs this energy to various parts of the body wherever you desire the energy to go. Bandhas are sometimes first learned and engaged during practices of pranayama and kriya, however, once efficiently practiced, they can be engaged throughout the asana practices too. It is important to note that engaging bandhas to the most refined degree takes a lot of practice and often times at least ten years to fully understand their nuances.

Towards the end of the 200 hour YTTC at Bend it like Buddha studio we learn breath retention- kumbaka with Moola Bandha which has a powerful effect of prana-life force leading more of an upward motion which activates powerful kundalini shakti.

At our classes at our yoga studio Bend it Like Buddha, along with the other 200 hour teaching courses also offer Bandha related topics. The four main Bandhas in the body includes Moola Bandha, Jalandhara Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Maha Bandha. Moola Bandha is a yoga technique in which the subtle energy in the pelvic floor is activated. In Uddiyana bandha, energy is then drawn upward within the core of the body and along the spine (Makhwana and Arora, 2016). One of the famous books, in this regard, known as Moola Bandha: The Master Key has been written by Swami Buddhananda for yoga practitioners focusing on the theory and practice of Moola Bandha. Jalandhara Bandha: the throat lock, on the other hand, engages the neck muscles in order to activate and energise the 5th chakra centre-Vishuddi. According to Kumar, Uddiyana Bandha also known as flying upward, abdominal bandha involves pulling the abdomen under the rib cage thus taking a false air to inhale and holding the breath followed by releasing the abdomen after a pause (Kumar, 2016). Maha Bandha, also recognised as the great lock, is a combination of all the three bandhas, Moola Bandha, Jalandhara Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha. Maha Bandha is associated with the activation of Maha Shakti that further results in the awakening of the Kundalani Shakti at the spine base (Makhwana and Arora, 2016).

Several scientific studies have been conducted determining the benefits of engaging bandhas. Bandhas are extremely essential for brain centres, for activating the neural pathways, the nadis, the kanda-or root of the thousands of energetic pathways and the channels through which prana streams. Bandhas are directly associated with purification, removal of blockages and toxins thus, resulting in a balanced body and mind. (Kumar, 2016). Bandhas temporarily halt the blood flow. For this reason, when released there is an increased flow of fresh blood. This does not only result in flushing away the older dead cells, at the same time, result in activating, renewing, strengthening and rejuvenating the organs. The Master Key, by Swami Buddhananda states that activating Moola Bandha taps into the great reservoirs of the body assisting in total harmony within the organism, energizing it with vitality and longevity.

Furthermore, it releases pent-up emotions, anxieties, depression and repressions. Through activating bandhas the trauma memories passed in and out of consciousness, like bubbles floating harmlessly to the surface and bursting. Besides this, engaging the bandhas also result in the development of a calm and clear mind, controlled breath while further strengthening single point concentration. Bandhas, in this way, aids in the regulation of internal systems of the body from metabolic and digestive to hormonal systems (Shankar, 2016). Furthermore, as a result of the released blockages, the energy channels are purified and the exchange of energy is improved. Most importantly, Bandhas alleviate stress as well as any other mental restlessness thus bringing about the inner balance and harmony. These practices help free the shoulders thus aligning the upper spine properly. Different studies over the years have repeatedly backed the benefits of Bandhas (Sweta et al., 2018).

Arm balances and peak postures go hand in hand with apana pranayama and bandhas. This particular class above I attended had over 10 peak postures, including 5 challenging arm balances! Yes, I totally had to engage my bandhas for all of these:)

At our yoga studio, we teach students how to isolate specific muscles of the Bandhas. Assessing each type of Bandha requires focus. Our introductory courses will be a great starting point while sooner or later you will definitely experience such a moment when you will feel the effect that activating bandhas have in your body, especially with the advanced pranayama courses. As Moola Bandha, Jalandhara Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha have their own benefits, Maha Bandha offers the combined benefits of all the three bandhas thus regulating the entire endocrine system. Communally, the yoga bandha benefits stimulate perceptions and helps in stopping the meaningless wandering of mind.

Practicing specifically Moola Banda, the master key lock has the potential to release us from depression, anxiety and unpleasant emotions which dampen our joy in life and prevent us from living our most authentic path. Practicing daily bandhas especially the master key is a technique to open the door to freedom, joy and liberation.As sensitivity and awareness both expand, our emotional issues can be solved as well as we clearly see the root of the problem. Therefore, Moola Bandha for example is a means to cut the mental problems at the roots and so establish mental health and a greater sense of well being.

utilizing the bandhas and apana prana in an arm balance asana


References

Kumar, P., 2016. Effect of yoga on mental health of adolescents. International Journal of Science and Consciousness2(1), pp.6-12.

Makhwana, B.J. and Arora, N.N., 2015. Tooth extraction without anesthesia using ancient Indian technique called jalandhara bandha yoga. Journal of Advanced Medical and Dental Sciences Research3(1), p.201.

Shankar, G., 2016. Yoga Psychotherapy around the world. Health Psychology1, p.219.

Sweta, K.M., Godbole, A., Awasthi, H.H. and Pandey, U., 2018. Effect of mula bandha yoga in mild grade pelvic organ prolapse: A randomized controlled trial. International journal of yoga11(2), p.116.

How to Travel the World by Teaching Yoga

 

            The nomadic yogi lifestyle is gaining momentum. Working as a yoga instructor and travelling abroad for the same cause has never been so appealing. We have lots of examples of some yoga teachers who have managed to find ways of following their heart and pursuing their passions while travelling and working abroad as a yoga teacher. Many of them have shared their experiences as well and have inspired others that pursuing your dreams while travelling the world is possible.

If you have similar goals of teaching yoga while travelling need not to worry. This lifestyle is about surrendering to the universe, going with the flow and with a bit of research and planning it is very possible. We will tell you some of the easiest ways regarding how to start teaching yoga abroad. Going abroad for teaching yoga is an incredible experience and thus, is among the most enriching life experiences you will ever have. Before getting it all started, all you need to do is to find good yoga instructor jobs abroad through work away sites for instance and arrange something before arrival. You will find a number of opportunities in different countries, as the market for teaching yoga has started becoming more in demand especially in Bali, India and Portugal. These sites are where I started my search when I wanted to work in Portugal as a yoga teacher abroad and eventually opened my own school, Bend it like Buddha. You can find a number of jobs through different websites such as:

http://www.yogatrade.com

https://www.workaway.info/

https://www.helpx.net/

 Once you decide the country you would like to travel in as a yoga teacher, search for different options where you can apply for your teaching job or work away position. The growing popularity of yoga has grabbed the attention of different hostels, glamp and camp sites, hotels and 5 star famous resorts. These hotels have started offering daily yoga classes to their guests and usually they have higher margins of salary.  While working there, you will have an awesome opportunity of exchange available to you. If you agreed for exchange, you will be provided with a nice room to stay and good food to eat.

 In the area that you have decided to travel to, if there is a yoga retreat or 200 hour or 300 hour teacher training happening, make the most of the available opportunity and reach out to them and let them know that you will be in the area and can help teach classes for their TTC. These positions often pay well. Networking with the leaders may help you discover some future opportunities while assisting them and will help you learn more about the industry. If you have planned to stay at a hostel while travelling, let the owners of the hostel know that you are a yoga instructor and ask them to encourage arranging yoga classes for their guests.

Besides this, you will have several other options too. You can offer classes on a donation basis in a community space such as a recreation centre, music festival or vegetarian restaurant or cafe. Either you can help out from the work exchange option or you can arrange donation classes for a local charity either on the beach or a nearby park.

Erica Hartnick is among one of these yoga travellers who combined her dream of travelling all around the world. She has travelled to different countries and has connected with the people through donation-based classes and work exchange as well (Hartnick, 2013). Nikki Scott is another such yoga teacher who has completed 200-hour yoga teacher training in Goa, India and has discovered some amazing opportunities in Thailand. Bali is also among one of the best places in the world to enjoy a yoga retreat, one of the most popular places to teach and learn the art of yoga (Scott, 2017).

Travel and yoga make a perfect combination especially for the wonderful yogis that love exploring this magical vast world. A number of female yoga teachers are travelling the world and are self-sufficient by teaching yoga or/and the other body-energy work such as Reiki, Ayurveda and Thai Yoga massage and other healing modalities.We also teach these healing arts in our yoga teacher trainings in India, Bali and Portugal.

Among these yoga instructors include Caitlin Turner, Honza and Claudine Lafond and Kino MacGregor who travelled to India to pursue her dream. Another internationally known yoga girl is Rachel Brathen who also travelled far and wide to teach yoga (Sugerman, 2019). All of these female yogi-nomads are my mentors and inspiration and you too can also pursue your dreams and the nomad-yogi lifestyle.

 Social media will also be a great source of meeting others working on a similar path and industries that are looking for yoga teachers. Follow what you love! Follow your heart! Please share with us what your nomad dreams are and what you are up to in this wide wide world.

References

Hartnick, E. (2013). 10 Tips for Teaching Yoga Abroad – Yoga Trade. [online] Yoga Trade. Available at: https://yogatrade.com/10-tips-teaching-yoga-abroad/ [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019].

Rova, A. (2017). Lessons Learned From My Yoga Teacher Training in Bali. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/girlskill/lessons-learned-from-my-yoga-teacher-training-in-bali-35ad87a474c1 [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019].

Scott, N. (2017). Search Job and Volunteer Opportunities For Yoga Teachers & Yogis Across The World.. [online] South East Asia Backpacker. Available at: https://southeastasiabackpacker.com/search-jobs-travel-yoga-teacher/ [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019].

Sugerman, L. (2019). 8 Yoga Teachers Who Travel Around the World. [online] DOYOUYOGA.COM. Available at: https://www.doyouyoga.com/8-yoga-teachers-who-travel-around-the-world-38352/ [Accessed 16 Jan. 2019].