The six bandhas in yoga practice
Yes, in the practice of yoga we have 6 important bandhas. They are energetic locks. The energy that we store inside our body during yoga practice will not disappear and spread outside our body, instead is going to flow and hold inside our body.
Mula Bandha means “root” and is the subtlest. It is the one that closes and seals the energy from the bottom of the body.
To find the exact point of mula bandha, try this exercise: inhale slowly by contracting the perineal area, the pelvic area, and exhale deeply and very slowly.
The practice of the Mula Bandha protects disorders of the genital and excretory system; protects uterine prolapse, haemorrhoids, incontinence.
It works on Muladhara chakra.
Jalandhara Bandha means “Chin lock”
By placing the chin in the direction of the sternum, the blood pressure is reduced, the heart bits slows down and the mind calms down. Jalandhara Bandha influences the pituitary gland, pineal gland, thyroid, parathyroid and thymus as it works on the Vishuddha chakra, the throat chakra.
One way to exercise it is in the lotus position with your hands on your knees. Then, when you exhale, bring your head forward and then back and down towards the breastbone.
Uddiyana Bandha means “fly through”, but also “lifting”, ie lifting the diaphragm. The following description is for Uddiyana Kriya which is much more pronounced than Uddiyana during the practice of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. This bandha is performed by pushing the abdominal muscles into the exhalation and then holding the breath. So, first inhale to the maximum while keeping the abdominals relaxed, then at the end of the exhalation, hold the breath and, trying to inhale without inhaling, the abdominals retract against the vertebral column, forming a cavity. The contraction of the perineum and therefore of the Mula Bandha is spontaneous. During Uddiyana bandha the belly falls considerably and this because the diaphragm is pushed upwards (hence the meaning “flies through”), in this way the chest expands, even if the lungs are empty of air. It is a technique that should be performed on an empty stomach. In this area, that is, at the level of our navel, we also find Manipura Chakra which influences the adrenals and the pancreas which are activated.
The benefits in activating the uddiyana Banda are: toning the diaphragm, massaging the heart and intestines, stimulating spleen, liver and intestine.
You can perform in lotus but also from standing with bent legs and hands resting on knees. In the latter case we can add “uddiyana Kriya” for Nauli.
Maha bandha, translated as “Great closure”. It is when the 3 previous bandhas are actived. It collects the energy that comes from above and from the bottom joining at the level of the navel, increasing the fire (agni) that improves the digestive system both at an energetic and physical level.
Pada bandha, or “the seal of the feet” when the foot is on the mat or when you catch the thumb. From the sole of the foot or from the big toe, the energy rises towards the legs stabilising the position.
Hasta bandha, which means “the hand on the mat”. From the central part of the palm, the energy flows through the arms and the body giving stability to the body.
In the picture an example of Hasta Bandha in which the hands on the mat channel the energy from the palm towards the arms and the body improving the balance of the position. But also Uddiyana band cooperates, lifting the diaphragm, and stabilising the position with the help of the abdominals, such as the transverse and obliques, which are located in this Bandha. Let’s not forget the mula Banda, active in Koundinyasana A and it is the thinnest, the deepest that closes the energy down keeping it internally in this asana.