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What is Bandha?

lock” or “seal

Yogis use certain muscles to create these seals in order to prevent prana (life force energy) from escaping the body. When performed correctly, they also help to stabilise your core during asana practice and protect you from injury.

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What is Bandha in a energetic way?

continued practice of the bandhas encourages Shakti or Kundalini energy to rise up through the central energy channel (sushumna) towards the higher chakras.

During a more advanced pranayama and meditation practice we would use all three of the bandhas together to create an “updraft” deep in the energetic body, effectively sucking Kundalini energy towards the crown.

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What are the different types of bandha?

There are three main bandhas:

  1. Mula bandha
    = root lock, which prevents the downward flow/escape of energy through the base of the torso.
  2. Uddiyana bandha
    = upward-flying lock, which creates an internal upwards “draft” of energy.
  3. Jalandhara bandha
    = throat lock, used in pranayama and meditation to prevent increased pressure in the head during breath retentions.
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How to do Mula Bandha?

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At the very end of an exhalation, engage your pelvic floor (Beckenboden) muscles as if you were stopping yourself from urinating.

You don’t need to clench (umklammern) them, just a gentle lift will do the trick. Over time, the action will become more subtle (geschickt/feinsinnig), eventually switching from a gross, muscular contraction to more of an energetic lift.

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How to do Uddiyana Bandha?

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in asana practice (there are different methods for pranayama and meditation):

  • First switch on mula bandha.
  • You may start to feel uddiyana bandha happening on it’s own.
  • When you engage your pelvic floor (Beckenboden) you will naturally have some engagement in the lower belly.
  • Take your awareness beneath your navel
  • and gently draw the muscles back towards the spine.

The muscle you’re trying to work with is the lower part of the transverse abdominis. Try not to suck your whole abdomen in or you risk restricting the movement of the diaphragm (and therefore the breath). When you’re practising postures you want your breath to move freely. This means the upper belly will move as you breathe, as your diaphragm moves up and down.

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Bandha and Downward Facing Dog

practise engaging mula and uddiyana bandha.

When you gently draw back uddiyana bandha in this position, can you feel a hollowing out of the pelvis?

It almost feels like you have a small cave forming in the lower abdomen, your own little vacuum pocket gently rousing Kundalini energy from the base of the pelvis up the centre of the body.

Try to make engagement of the bandhas a priority, being conscious when you have lost the connection and coming back to them time and time again.

This will form new neural connections in your brain so that it eventually becomes second nature for you to keep the bandhas engaged during practice.

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How to do Jalandhara Bandha?

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only during pranayama and meditation techniques

 

  • you would lift the chest
  • extend the neck
  • and then place the chin as low down as you can on the sternum (Brustbein).
  • Then you would “lock the throat”, which basically means swallow and keep the throat muscles gripped, so that no air can pass in or out.
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What is Kapalabhati?

kapal” means skull 
“bhati” means shining or illuminating

  • forcefully expelling the breath out through the nostrils using the lower transverse abdominus muscle.
  • The exhalation is active and the inhalation is passive.
  • This creates a very slight CO2 debt in your body, so that when you move on to practise a slower-breathing pranayama exercise (like alternate nostril breathing), your breath is longer, deeper and it’s easier to enter a calm and meditative state.