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.

Kundalini Yoga Nidra

Have you ever seen the world with an expansive vision? The enlightenment of understanding can come from feeling whole and complete and at the same time sensing how others are interpreting the world around them. This expansive vision can come through from a Kundalini awakening.

Kundalini awakening is a process of experiencing specific energy that is associated with the resolution of all of the issues, conditioning patterns, emotional trauma, pain ect… Over the last few years, there are more transcendental experiences which yoga students have been experiencing.

Here is a Yoga Nidra meditation I recorded which you can practice at night before you fall asleep or during the day to help you feel energized. It is up to you and your intention of what you would like to receive from this meditative practice.

Kundalini Yoga Nidra

Most important be totally aware in the present moment, let go and follow the guided instructions. Enjoy!

Thank you to my brother Loose Lion ( Aka Jerome Truman) for the awesome binaural beats and sound medicine 🙂 xx

Meditation recorded by ~
L. Farrah Furtado