Introducing Bandhas into Practice
Bandha practices are classic Yoga practices that are referred to as the energy locks or seals in the body. In performing any Bandha, holding the breath is required. As a result, there is a brief blockage in the movement of blood inside the body. However, when Bandhas are released, the movement of energy throughout the body occurs at a much faster, albeit steady, manner.
Some students of Yoga often wonder why there is a need to change the direction of energy in the body. What we do not know is that when we briefly cease the movement of blood in our body, the rush of blood movement that follows after its release is responsible for pushing out cells that are long dead in the body. As a result, organs to which these cells belonged to receive new strength to function properly.
Practicing Bandhas also help the brain to function optimally as it has an influence on Chakras and Nadis responsible for that part of the body. There is a purification of the Nadis and movement of energy from one Chakra to another is seamless. Practicing Bandhas over time also helps you in sustaining postures during asana practices.
Type of Bandha Practices
There are four major types of Bandha practices that a practitioner can undergo. These include the Mula Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha which
can be practiced following the inhalation process. The other two are Uddiyana Bandha and Maha Bandha which are ultimately practiced after exhalation.
The practice of Mula Bandha is less difficult than the others. It can be practiced every day. The word Mula actually means “root”. To practice this Bandha, the practitioner needs to concentrate on contracting the area between the genital organs and the anus.
This can be done in any pose, as long as the practitioner is comfortable in that pose.
Sit on the floor. Rest your hands on your knees and push your torso forward and upward a little bit. Then draw a deep breath and sustain it.
Squeeze the floor of your pelvic area and continue to do so for as long as the amount of time you are able to sustain your breath.
Practicing Mula Bandha helps you to get rid of some sexual related disorders. It also gives more firmness and strength to the pelvic floor muscles.
This bandha practice deals with the throat and requires certain breathing techniques for success. Unlike Mula Bandha, which allows for any pose the practitioner wants to take, Jalandhara Bandha typically requires that you are in a seated posture.
Cross your legs over each other as you seat on the floor. Then draw in a deep breath and straighten your back. Shut your eyes and bring your chin close to your chest, resting it firmly on it. This way, there is a blockage of the throat.
Also, rest your hands on your knees. Raise your shoulders and then push your torso forward slightly. You must, however, make sure your spine remains straight. Remain in this position and sustaining your breath as well.
When you can no longer hold your breath, release the air from your nostrils and then return to the posture for three or four more times.
Metabolism becomes easier when you practice Jalandhara Bandha. Any impurities in the throat are eliminated too, as well as throat diseases.
This is also known as the stomach lock. It is located in the area between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor, shown in Figure 35. Practicing this bandha redirects the flow of energy in an upward direction. You, therefore, are required to take up a standing or seated posture for its practice.
While standing, exhale deeply and keep the breath out. Rest your hands on your knees and push the torso outwards, lifting your shoulders and keeping a straight spine.
Also, make sure your legs are slightly separated and the knees bent a little. Hold your breath for as long as you can and when you reach breaking point, take a deep inhale into your body again.
Practicing Uddiyana Bandha helps to deal with constipation issues and
indigestion. It regulates the activity in the intestine. It can also be useful for alleviating symptoms of diabetes.
Maha bandha is also called the “ Great Lock ” or the “ Great Badha ” as it forms a constitution of all the other bandhas. It is therefore required that you practice it only when you have gotten a strong grip on the others. They are basically a prerequisite for practicing the great lock. The pose
typically required for this practice is Padmasana or a comfortable equivalent.
Take in a deep breath and exhale afterward from the mouth. Then keep the breath out. Rest your hands on your knees and push your torso outwards a little bit.
Then practice the Jalandhara Bandha first before proceeding to the Uddiyana Bandha and finally stopping on the Mula Bandha.
Hold your breath and remain in that posture for as long as you can.
Precautions for Practicing Bandhas
Not everyone is meant to perform bandhas, especially pregnant women and those in their menstrual periods. You must also have mastered some basic breathing techniques in Pranayama before embarking on this practice.