Monday, 3 November 2014

Making sense of the Bandas

As a beginner sometimes ‘yoga speak’ is confusing.  You teacher will tell you to ‘engage Mula Banda’.  But what are the bandas and how do you engage them?  Essentially the bandas are energy locks in the body.  There are three bandas that are commonly used in yoga practice –Mula Banda, the root lock, Uddiyana Banda, the naval lock and Jalahara Banda, the throat lock

Mula Banda – the root lock.
Engaging Mula Banda – this involves a drawing up of the pelvic floor which consists of 16 muscles slung between the pubic bone, tail bone and hip points. As a beginner, if you are a lady imagine trying to stop the flow of urine and if you are a man contract the area between the anus and the testes. Although Mula banda can be engaged on both the inhale and the exhale, for beginners it is best to familiarise yourself with engaging the pelvic floor on the exhale. As you become more in tune with your body you may notice that the pelvic floor naturally relaxes on the inhale and lifts on the exhale and you can practice exaggerating this.
Why engage Mula Banda? It is beneficial for everyone to strengthen the pelvic floor through engaging Mula Banda. The pelvic floor supports the abdominal organs and the spine.  In pregnancy strengthening the pelvic floor may mean fewer contractions to give birth to the baby and later in life lower the risk of incontinence.  In yoga practice engaging Mula Banda moves energy up and prevents energy moving down.  It is commonly used in standing postures and ‘jumpbacks’ to give stability, protect the lower back and enable the student to hold the poses for longer.
Contraindications constipation, hemorrhoids.

Uddiyana Banda - the naval lock

Engaging Uddiyana Banda- uddiyana means ‘to fly’ and the action is an inward and upward movement of the naval.  It can only be engaged on the exhale.   
Why engage Uddiyana Banda? – like Mula Banda engaging the naval lock protects the lower back and develops core strength.  It is often used in conjunction with Mula Banda.  It is used in many poses. Engage Uddiyana Banda on the exhale as you move into the pose.  For instance in Supta Padagusthasana you would engage Uddiyana Banda as you exhale and lift the leg, in twists with each exhale engage Uddiyana Banda and maybe move deeper into the twist (BUT do not force).  Also use in Boat Pose, Plank, Forward Bends, Chair Pose, Awkward Pose etc
Contraindications - the lock should not be used if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma or are pregnant. Also contraindicated in menstruation,  where there are abdominal problems such as ulcers, hernia, or scar tissue for example from hysterectomy.

Jalahara Banda -
the throat lock
Engage Jalahara Banda by dropping the chin to the chest but keep the spine straight and the back of the neck long. 
Why engage Jalahara Banda? – Jalahara Banda is often used in advanced breath retention techniques and is not suitable for the beginner. 
Contraindications -Do not use the lock if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma or are pregnant. 

Mula Banda, Uddiyana Banda and Jalahara Banda can be engage together.  This is known as the Great Lock.

Making sense of the bandas-
Plead read the cautions in the accompanying article on the blog before practicing this video
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Articles that accompany this video will be published on 30/10/14. Thank you 
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