There are three classic bandhas: Mula, Uddiyana, and Jalandhara bandha. When practiced together they are called Maha bandha or tri-bandha.
Bandhas assist the efficient functioning of the endocrine and nervous systems. The digestive system and viscera are toned, massaged and revitalized via pressure on the internal organs. They lower respiration rate, heart rate and blood pressure, inducing calmness and relaxation.
They also stimulate alpha brainwave production, so that profound relaxation is experienced. Any confused or crossed neuronal circuits in the brain are reordered, in effect “retraining the brain.”
Although they may seem awkward and unfamiliar at first, in a very short time they become familiar and comfortable and your experience in the practices will be so enhanced that you will soon realise their value.
EXPLANATION OF BANDHAS – THE ENERGY VALVES
The bandhas are best defined as energy valves, not as locks as they are commonly referred to in some texts. They are not muscle contractions, which carry the connotation of constraining, forcing, excluding, repressing and damming up energy. Instead they can be viewed as incredibly powerful valves used for redirecting and raising both our energy levels and our consciousness. They connect and harmonize our vital energy with the inner constellations, the outer constellations and the universal eternal source of all life-giving energy.
Bandhas draw in and redirect dissipated energy. They can be seen as the embodied aspect of pratyahara, the fifth limb in the ashtanga yoga of Patanjali. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) is the vehicle for tapas (spiritual fire/discipline). When your energy is no longer dissipated nor distracted into dualistic externalizations, the flow of prana, from the periphery, moves you towards higher states of consciousness. The practice of pratyahara and bandhas reverses the outward flow of mind into the illusory world of the senses where objects appear dualistically as separate from self, i.e. the world of “you and I.”
The mind cannot move without prana. Bandhas are applied to efficiently and quickly reverse the outward flow and activate the inner flow with the ability to quickly establish the objectless meditative state of turiya or samadhi. Put in another way, the rigid point of a chronic spiritual disconnection can be disrupted through bandha, pranayama, and pratyahara, which quickly provide a pathway for spiritual reconnection.
Reconnection is another word for healing. Although commonly called locks, bandhas act as such only in so far as they prevent the outward flow (dissipation) of the energy. In my experience, bandhas direct the internal energy flow to irrigate the nadis and activate the energy body. They are a powerful assistant when used in conjunction with asana, pranayama, visualization, mudra and meditation.
When the bandha are mastered, progress in asana, pranayama, mudra and meditation is greatly accelerated with the result of allowing us to abide in the heart of samadhi faster, easier, longer and more completely. They are tools that have been used by the yogis and spiritual elite for aeons, and are now accessible to us.
- ROOT VALVE (Mula bandha)
- DIAPHRAGM VALVE (Uddiyana bandha)
- CHIN VALVE (Jalandhara bandha)
BENEFITS OF ALL BANDHAS
The use of the three bandhas is highly beneficial particularly in pranayama practice and especially so in kumbhaka (breath retention). So as we become more at ease in pranayama practice and more aware of the energetics we can apply mula bandha all the time, and then use uddiyana bandha and jalandhara bandha at the top of the in-breath as well. This creates space in the torso and lengthening of the spine, facilitating traction and extension.
With each inhale we bring prana into the body – which ideally is stored in Manipura, which acts as an energy reservoir. The Root valve stops energy from being drained, so that Earth energy rises to meet the stored energy at Manipura, and the combined energies can trigger a flow of kundalini up the spine. The Diaphragm valve then encourages the energy to rise further up the spine, and the Chin valve creates the pressure needed to push the energies up into the spiritual centres in the head, propelling towards a higher state of consciousness.
ROOT VALVE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES – MULA BANDHA
Awareness of the subtle lift at the perineum (between the anus and vagina/scrotum)
The root valve moves the earth energy up through the sushumna, chakra system, connecting Muladhara, the root chakra, to the sacral chakra or Svadhisthana. It also acts as a valve connecting the limitlessness of sky energy to the solidness of the core of the earth. Mula bandha keeps the energy flowing between the body and the earth in a non-dual direction, neither exclusively up nor down.
The Muladhara chakra is the most important chakra in hatha, kundalini, and tantric yoga as well as the most mysterious. It is where our dormant potential and instinctual power resides and it is from here that kundalini becomes activated and enters into the central channel or sushumna activating the super-conscious network. The function of Mula bandha is to keep the energy flowing in the region. Benefits: It is the most important of the three in terms of benefits to the nervous and endocrine systems. Good for sexual balance, conserving energy, constipation, stabilizing menstrual periods and balancing Muladhara.
The sound healing frequency for transmuting fear and grounding energy is 396hz. Use this frequency to clear away stuck energy at a cellular level…
Breathe out any remaining tension, let your belly rise, let your breath fill your belly and soften any tension there. Silently repeat to yourself: “Soft belly” as you let go.
Breathe into your heart and let your breath soften any resistance there might be, breathe out tension and breathe in softness, ease and compassion. Observe the flow of your natural breath. Silently repeat to yourself: “Soft heart” as you release any resistance.