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September 15, 2016

There are 3 major bandhas used in the practice of yoga. Mula bandha, Uddiyana bandha and Jalandhara bandha.Bandhas,used in yoga, are strong holds, or locks;each one activating and accessing different systems and energy lines throughout the body.  

This three part series will tap into the backgrounds and benefits of each and help you qualify the advantages of adding these techniques to your practice.  

For centuries yogis around the world have been strengthening their deep core muscles through the practice ofbandha. Even though the term “Core” has become a popular buzzword in fitness classes these days, it is not a new idea.  Physically, they activate some of the most important muscles for postural stability.

Thecore includes the set of muscles that stabilize the low back with respect to the rib cage and pelvis. Although someone with a ripped six pack may be the poster child for what a strong core looks like, those six pack muscles don’t contribute much to the core’s function. These are the main muscles of the core:

  • Pelvic Floor: The pelvis is the spine’s anchor, so its stability is vital to the integrity of the low back. The pelvic floor muscles form a hammock within the pelvis to stabilize it front-to-back and side-to-side. These muscles are the foundation of the core.
  • Transversus Abdominus: this muscle is like a natural corset that wraps around the abdomen. When engaged it hugs the abdominal organs and front ribs toward the spine to create a column of stability.
  • Multifidus: these muscles run up either side of the spine to stabilize the low back with respect to the pelvis. They are active during all the backbending, side-bending, and twisting poses we do in yoga. The bandha practices described below do not directly activate the multifidus muscles, but learning to engage the bandhas enables us to use the multifidus muscles more safely and effectively.

To yogis, the core is about more than only physical alignment. It is also about energetic alignment. Mula Bandha is one of the age-old practices yogis have been using to find their centers for centuries and below are directions for accessing this powerful energy:

Mula Bandha

Sanskrit: Mula means “root” andbandha means “lock.”

Instructions: Sitting in a comfortable position with a neutral pelvis, take a deep inhale through the nose. As you exhale, engage the pelvic floor muscles to draw the pubic bone (front center of the pelvis) toward the tailbone and the sit bones (bony areas under each butt cheek) toward one another. Feel the area between the genitals and anus, the perineum, lift. The pelvis itself does not move at all; it stays neutral. Hold for four to eight seconds, then release.

Physiology:  Mula bandha is an engagement of the internal sling of muscles that line the pelvis. These muscles form the foundation of the core, and are play a vital role in bowel and bladder control, sexual function, and childbirth.

Energy: Engaging mula bandha prevents energy from leaking out of your foundation and redirects it into the central channel.Mula Bandha also activates the root chakra (muladhara).

Benefits of Mula Bandha:

  • Strengthens the muscles in the pelvic floor
  • Calms the nervous system
  • Increases stability in the pelvis and creates a safe environment for spinal movement
  • Tones the uro-genital excretory system
  • Alleviates asthma, bronchitis and arthritis
  • Improves discomfort associated with constipation and hemorrhoids
  • Activates the Muladhara Chakra (Root Chakra)
  • Awakens Kundalini

Whatever your reasons are for accessing the bandhas, if practiced correctly and mindfully,  they can aid in a pathway to better health, strengthen muscles that will be beneficial as you age and  elevate the feeling of connectedness to oneself and to a higher power.