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Bandhas...Say What?

I had a yogi ask me this week, what are these bandha’s you keep talking about.

We use the bandhas in yoga classes. But do you understand what the bandhas are?

The bandhas are ways that we can harness the energy in our body and direct it to benefit us in our yoga practice. In my yoga classes we use the Mula bandha, the Uddiyana bandha and the Jalandhara bandha. When we engage all three bandhas it is called the Maha bandha. I have heard the bandhas described as an internal jock strap at high energy areas of our bodies.

Let’s look at the three bandhas we use in our yoga classes. The Mula bandha is the root lock. This bandha can be used to set the foundation for a myriad of poses and in meditation. This bandha brings energy from the pelvic floor up towards the belly. To engage this lock, you engage the same sensation you would if you were cutting off the flow of urine when you go to the bathroom.

The Uddiyana bandha is the abdominal lock. This bandha is engaged by pulling your navel in towards your spine then up towards your ribcage. This bandha is usually taught from a standing position and is most often used in conjunction with the Jalandhara bandha. To engage this lock, exhale the air from your lungs then pull your belly in and up. Uddiyana bandha can help the yogi feel lighter when moving from monkey to plank, in crow pose and, of course, in inversions. You are employing the energy to help you in your poses rather than muscling your way through a pose.

The Jalandhara bandha is the chin lock. This lock is used primarily in breathing exercises, in shoulder stand and in bridge pose. To engage this lock, gently tilt your chin down and slightly pull it back towards your chest.

When we use the bandhas in our yoga practice, we become more aware of our body. We become more aware of how we are holding our body in a yoga pose but also, how we hold our body as we move through life. We often fight with our bodies without even realizing we are doing it. How often have we pushed ourselves further than our body is willing to go? If I do this my body often tells me no. For me, this manifests as wrist pain most of the time. How often do we not push ourselves enough? This may show up as a lack of growth, feeling stagnant and going through the reel of negativity in our mind.

Our bodies are amazing when we sit down and think about all that we can accomplish with them. They move us around all day. They perform miracles inside that we never think about unless they don’t work properly. We can use bandhas to enhance our yoga practice and they become a “superhero” like force to help you perform and maintain your beautiful body in your yoga practice. As your practice grows and evolves, you will likely become more in tune with your body and the connection with the bandhas. The internal evolution grows on your mat and often flows over into your life. It’s that yoga magic.

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