If you thought that yoga just concerns asanas, then you are wrong. Yoga comprises asanas, kriyas, mudras, pranayama, chakras, anatomical studies, philosophy, and bandhas. Bandha means ‘lock.’ They are internal energy locks. Most yoga teachers use the word, to activate your body locks. The main purpose of a bandha is to lock the energy in a certain organ or a part of the body. When you release the lock, the energy suddenly gets released and flows with speed. The most common, that you must have heard of, is the digestive lock. The digestive system has muscles, called sphincter muscles which you can contract to create a lock. You will learn about bandhas in the 200-hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh.
Types of Bandhas
- There are six sphincter muscles in the digestive system. You can contract them, to create locks.
- You can contract the anal sphincter to form the Mula Bandha.
- The sphincter of Oddi is present between the pancreas and the small intestine. When you contract the area, you will be able to create the Uddhiyana Bandha. When you contract the upper oesophageal sphincter, it creates the Jalandhara Bandha.
When you combine all the bandhas together, it forms the Maha Bandha.
Most teachers ask the students, to perform bandhas along with the asana. However, earlier bandhas were practiced along with pranayama. It is due to the fact, that when you try to perform a bandha, you have to keep your breath locked. However, it is not possible during an asana.
Mula Bandha –
It is the anal lock, which mainly concerns the foundation of the body. You can call it the foundation. The muscles that are a part of the pelvic floor, comprise the anus, genitals, and perineum. When you activate these muscles, it gives a lift to the body. The pelvic floor muscles provide support to the internal organs. The contraction is not limited to the pelvic floor muscles alone when you practice a bandha. The muscles in the lower abdomen also get contracted. It also helps in the stabilization of the spine and the SI joint. When you activate the pelvic floor muscles, it creates more stability within the body. It is also the activating bandha.
Uddhiyana Bandha –
It is also called the stomach lock. When you lift the diaphragm, the deep seated abdominal muscles undergo a lift. In this practice, you contract the abdomen muscles in such a way, so as to move the belly button towards the ribs and spine. The contraction and locking of these areas lead to the activation of the psoas. It helps to control the center of gravity. You will be learning about this in more detail in the yoga teacher training in Rishikesh.
Jalandhara Bandha –
It is the throat lock. You will be amazed to know, that this bandha restricts the upward flow of energy. You can practice it while retaining your breath and also without holding it. You can practice the bandha while sitting in a meditative pose. Keep the
head, neck, and trunk in a single line. You must also lift the sternal plate and upper ribs. Lower the chin, and lock it into the throat cavity.
Maha Bandha –
This is the fourth most important lock. After you have mastered the individual locks, you can try all three together. You should never hurry, while practicing the lock. Take your time and do it gradually.
Benefits of Bandhas
There are a number of benefits associated with bandhas. When you apply the bandhas on specific parts of the body, it can stimulate the muscle tissues and organs. Take the example of the Mula Bandha. It helps to activate the Pelvic floor muscles. It can also tone and improve the functioning of the same. If you are suffering from prolapse, Mula Bandha can help you.
When you create a lock, blood flow is stopped for a while, and as you release the lock, there is an in-flow of fresh blood to the concerned body parts. It helps to flush away the old and dead cells.
Bandhas also have the power to stimulate the chakras of the body. The bandhas lock the energy around the chakras. When you activate the energy surrounding the chakras, prana flows through them quite easily, without any hindrance. It improves physical and mental vitality. Moreover, you can also purify the ‘nadis,’ that amount to 72,000 in the human body. You can also prepare your mind for meditation, with the help of the practice.
However, there are more than the above few major bandhas. There is various minor bandhas, like the hasta bandhas and the pada bandhas. You can perform bandhas along with mudras and breath works. All these together will help in the complete purification and energization of the body. A person who practices bandhas on a regular basis is free from almost all ailments of the body, mind, and soul.