Bandha is a Sanskrit word related to our English words “band”,”bind”, “bond” and “bound.” They are particular actions involving pressure or strain on the muscles. Each bandha is a lock, meaning a closing off of part of the interior body. These locks are used in various pranayama and asana practices to tone, cleanse and energize the interior body and organs. These three bandhas are chiefly performed during the practice of pranayama.
Bandhas are a very powerful tool in yoga. They provide a number of benefits if performed in the proper manner, but conversely, if not performed properly, they can prove detrimental in the long run. Hence, it is important to learn the proper method for performing a yoga Bandha from your yoga teacher.He or she will also be able to demonstrate the best method to incorporate the Bandha into your yoga asanas. Yoga bandhas should also not be practiced by pregnant women.
Type of Bandhas
There are three basic types of yoga bandhas—the Moola Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, and Jalandhara Bandja. These different yoga bandhas can also be combined into the Maha Bandha.
Benefits of Yoga Bandhas
Let us take a look at some of the ways in which utilizing Yoga Bandhas can enhance the benefits that you gain from the practice of yoga:
- Understanding and utilizing the appropriate Bandhas can simplify the performance of complex yoga poses.
- When you make use of these yoga Bandhas, you also amplify the benefits that the practice of yoga grants your body.
- Bandhas help you to control and improve the function of your body’s internal organ systems such as the nervous system, digestive system, reproductive system, and hormonal system.
- The practice of yoga Bandhas will also allow you to increase the duration for which you hold your postures.
“Jala” means ‘net’ and “Dhar” means ‘to hold’. In this bandha the network of energy channels or nadis of the body is locked. This bandha is also known as chin lock.
- Sit down on the floor.
- Assume padmasana (lotus posture)keeping your head and neck erect.
- Keep your palms on the corresponding knees facing outwards.
- Exhale completely.
- Take a long and deep breath, raising your chest as you breathe in.
- Hold your breath for about 10 seconds.
- Raise your chin to the maximum limit without tilting your head.
- Slowly bend forward and push your neck and head towards the chest.
- Contract your throat and neck muscles simultaneously.
- Lower your chin slowly and place it on the jugular notch.
- Contact the neck and bring the head low.press the chin firmly against the
- Keeping your back up and straight, continue to contract the neck and throat muscles.
- Concentrate your gaze on the tip of your nose.
- Continue holding your breath with the chin lock as long as you comfortably can.
- Raise your chin first and then your neck and head and then return to erect sitting posture.
In Sanskrit, “Uddiyana” refers to ‘flying’. In this bandha the diaphragm is raised up to the thoracic region.
- This bandha can be practised in either standing posture or sitting posture.
- Bend your head and trunk forward.
- Bend your knees forward.
- Place your hands on your thighs.
- Grasp the thighs a little above the knee.
- Raise your head and relax your abdominal muscles.
- Exhale completely with force.
- Simultaneously contract the abdominal muscles.
- Hold your breath and do not let any air into your lungs.
- Press your hands gently on the thighs and perform ‘mock inhalation’. Keep your glottis closed to prevent air from flowing into your lungs.
- Expand the thoracic cage and raise the ribs quickly followed by relaxation of abdominal muscles.
- When the ribs rise, your relaxed diaphragm will also move upwards.
- At the same time, the abdominal front muscles get sucked inwards and up towards the ribs. As a result the thoracic cavity vacuum is automatically filled up.
- A deep depression takes place in the relaxed abdominal wall. The abdomen assumes a hollow concave shape.
- Concentrate on the solar plexus.
- Hold on to this position without any air in the lungs for as long as you comfortably can.
- Inhale slowly and deeply to bring the chest and abdomen back to its original shape.
- Return to the starting position by straightening your head, trunk and legs.
- Take rest for about 15 seconds between two rounds.
- You can perform three rounds of the bandha.
“Moola” means ‘root’ or ‘source’ in Sanskrit. The other meaning of moola is also ‘anal’. In this yoga bandha anal lock is performed.
- Sit in siddhasana .
- Press the lower abdominal muscle with the right heel and place the left heel at the root of the genital.
- Look in front.
- Exhale slowly.
- Contract your abdomen to lock the anal opening.
- Immediately contract the external and the internal sphincter muscles strongly.
- Simultaneously draw the sphincter muscles up.
- The exercise can be done replacing the left leg
- Intensify the contraction process for the right one.
- Hold the contraction for 10 seconds.
- Slowly exhale and relax the sphincter muscles.
- You can start with five rounds and then increase by one per week to raise the turns to 10 times.
It is done in two ways:
First method: While sitting, fix the left ankle under the perineum. Now bring the right foot over the left thigh and inhale (purak) from both the nostrils or one nostril, and perform moolbandha. Let the Apanyahu ascent up. Now concentrate your mind towards the sushmana and hold the breath (kumbak). Then exhale (rechak) through both nostrils, or the opposite nostril (not used during inhale).
Second method: Sit in Padamasana or Siddhasana. Apply moolbandha and holding breath(as per your capacity) let the Apanvayu flow upward at naval level. Exhale/Inhale as needed. This bandha helps in the union of pranvayu and apanvayu.