The sacred art of yoga has been a part of many cultures for centuries. Millions of yogis have found their true self by practicing the many yogic techniques and exercises. This ancient art offers a plethora of mental and physical health benefits. The only thing you need to do is follow a consistent yoga practice routine under the guidance of a highly skilled yoga teacher. However, there is another important aspect of yoga, the yoga bandhas.
In simple terms, yoga bandhas in Sanskrit refer to the locks or bind. This is where you as a yoga practitioner block the flow of the sacred Prana energy. It improves the flow of energy to important parts of your body. During the practice of bandhas, yogis contract their bodies. To help you understand this yogic concept, yoga experts have come up with a small guide.
First, let us concentrate on the basics.
As stated above, the word Bandhas is an art of locking certain areas of your body to manipulate the flow of the sacred Prana energy flowing in those areas. The main aim of every yogi is to lock the flow of energy within the central energy channel, which is the Sushumna Nadi.
During the practice of yoga bandhas, you contract certain muscles in your body. You do this by holding your breath for some time which binds the sacred energy within us. There are a total of three yoga bandhas, namely;
You should know that yoga bandhas named above block the flow of energy in your throat, abdomen, and pelvis. Unfortunately, there is a bit of confusion with the word Bandha. Don’t worry, yoga experts have the answer for that.
Bandha in the Sanskrit language means lock or to bind. As the practice of yoga bandhas locks the flow of energy within your body, therefore its name is Bandha.
Now, you might ask – Why Do I Need To Include Yoga Bandhas In Yoga Practice? We will let the yoga experts help you find the answer to that.
You release the sacred Prana energy through several openings in your body. These openings are the pelvic area, abdominal area, and throat. But, what does that have to do with yoga bandhas? Read further to know.
The yoga bandhas lock these areas to prevent the unnecessary leakage of the Pranic energy into the atmosphere.
Yoga bandhas are an effective tool when it comes to gaining control over different koshas in your body. It happens primarily through physical means and later by mental means.
By nature, some areas of your body are energy-rich while some are energy-deprived. In the energy-rich areas, the sacred Prana energy gets stuck by muscular tension. The Bandhas provide this stuck energy a new pathway to reach the energy-deprived areas of your body.
The yoga bandhas are a very powerful tool for yogis who want to awaken the locked Kundalini energy in their body.
However, at the same time, there are some myths surrounding yoga bandhas. Yoga experts have come up with four misconceptions regarding the practice of yoga bandhas. Read on to know the truth behind these myths.
Given below are the four myths about yoga bandhas that you should be aware of.
No! Doing yoga bandhas during a yoga session is simply not possible unless you are holding your breath. Yoga experts recommend you should activate your muscles and not hang them when doing yoga asanas. The activation of muscles during a yoga practice gives you better control and stability.
Once you understand the concept of yoga bandhas, you would understand these are rather subtle and gentle. You do not need to apply external force when practicing yoga bandhas during the yoga practice.
On the contrary, if you use too much force and contract the muscles too much, there is every chance you are not doing it correctly.
For you to apply yoga bandhas correctly, you need to apply a certain measure of mental and physical control. Yoga gurus teach this technique only to those students who have achieved a certain measure of success in their regular yoga practice.
Like every other exercise, not doing yoga bandhas with the right technique also has adverse effects. You should enroll in a certified best yoga school and learn this technique under the guidance of yoga gurus.
Do you know about the different types of yoga bandhas? No? Yoga experts have come up with the complete information about the different yoga bandhas.
You might have heard there are only four yoga bandhas. However, there are a total of six bandhas with 2 minor, 3 major, and 1 Maha bandha.
Let us now understand all these in a little detail.
You do the minor yoga bandhas by locking your hands and feet.
You do this by locking your muscles near to the pelvis, abdomen, and throat.
This is the yoga bandhas that happens when all 3 major bandhas are done together.
But, that is not all. Let us now understand what each of these bandhas do.
As stated above, the Hasta Bandha means hand lock. This yoga bandhas lock the prana in your arms and hands. This yoga bandha relieves the pain in your wrist while in the handstand, tabletop, or downward dog pose.
The word Pada literally means foot. This locks the energy in your feet and provides stability and balance to your body during the yoga practice. It tones the organs in your lower body, connects your body with the earth, and keeps you centered during the yoga practice.
The Mula Bandha means root lock and it locks the energy in your body’s pelvic region. This lock increases your concentration powers and emotional strength. The mula bandha also cleanses your body, improves your sexual health, and offers relief from negativity and phobias.
Steps To Practice Mula Bandha
The Uddiyana bandha locks the Prana energy in your abdomen area. This yoga bandha offers health benefits like making you feel and look younger, stimulating the Heart Chakra, and improving your awareness.
Steps To Practice Uddiyana Bandha
Known as the Chin or Throat lock, the Jalandhara bandha locks the prana in your throat region. It improves your metabolism, increases concentration power, helps clear your voice, and stimulates the throat chakra.
Steps To Practice Jalandhara Bandha
You do the Maha bandha by combining the three major bandhas. These work together to give you the maximum benefits. The Maha Bandha maintains your cardiovascular health, strengthens your immune system, and improves your concentration and level of alertness.
However, there are situations where you should avoid doing yoga bandhas. Read below to know when it is a bad idea to do these exercises.
Although the yoga bandhas are quite beneficial for you as these alleviate many conditions and illnesses, there are times when you should avoid doing these.
The yoga bandhas help advance your physical yoga practice as well as your meditative and spiritual practice.
With that said, given below are the benefits of major yoga bandhas.
In the physiological sense, Mula Bandha stimulates your pelvic nerves, genital system, endocrine system, and excretory system. It also relieves you of constipation and depression. The Mula Bandha affects your Muladhara, Svadistana, and Manipura chakra.
When you activate the Jalandhara Bandha it activates the upward movement of Kundalini energy from the lower three chakras, the fourth and fifth chakra, and into the Third Chakra.
The Uddiyana Bandha in combination with Mula Bandha propels the activated Kundalini energy through the Sushumna Nadi. This bandha offers some great benefits for your yoga practice. It moves the energy upwards with more intensity.
Uddiyana Bandha offers you a deeper stretch, and massages the internal organs thereby increasing your efficiency. This Bandha stimulates the digestive juices, balances your adrenal system, and relieves you of stress and tension.
The Maha Bandha provides you the benefits of all the three major bandhas combined. The numerous health benefits this bandha offers include;
Did you know there is a specific order of doing yoga bandhas? One thing yoga experts recommend you should always remember is knowing the sequence of yoga bandhas practice.
Remember, the sequence for yoga bandhas is Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, Jalandhara Bandha, and Maha Bandha. Let us now start with the sequence practice.
As stated above, you should always start with the practice of Mula Bandha. In yogic culture, Bandhas are done with the aim of activating the Kundalini energy. The Kundalini lies dormant at the base of your spine and is released by locking the sacred prana energy at the root of your spine and stimulating the Muldhara chakra.
Remember, the Mula Bandha is the first one that allows Kundalini energy to flow freely through the Sushumna Nadi. Hence, this is why yoga experts recommend you should start the practice with Mula Bandha. Moreover, all the major yoga Nadis start from the Mula area of your spine.
After the Mula Bandha comes Uddiyana Bandha. The Kundalini energy flows from the root of your spine to the head. Once you set the Kundalini energy free through the spine, it goes to your abdomen area.
In order to clear the obstacles in the way of Kundalini energy at your abdomen region, you lock this part. This process is made possible with the practice of Uddiyana Bandha.
After the Kundalini energy passes through the abdomen, it flows towards the head and through the throat. To clear the path for the energy, you lock the throat region. This stimulates the Vishuddhi chakra with Jalandhara Bandha.
Also Read: Yoga Doshas in Ayurveda
Practicing yoga bandhas takes a lot of effort and time. However, you can do this by enrolling in a certified yoga school and learning this fine yogic technique from yoga masters.