Our hope in providing a studio theme at Kula each month is to deepen your understanding of the philosophy behind yoga, so you can start living yoga both on and off the mat. The practice of yoga is an art and science dedicated to creating union between the body, mind and spirit. Our August focus is Bandhas, or body locks.
Engaging Mula Bandha creates a foundation. The root of the tree is important for the entire tree. Likewise, Mula Bandha is important for making asana and pranayama beneficial. Without the bandhas these exercises have only physical effects.
~ Joan Shivarpita Harrigan
What are Bandhas?
In Sanskrit Bandha’s mean to lock, to hold, or to tighten. Bandha’s allow you to redirect the flow of energy in the body and play an important role on both a physical and spiritual level.
On a physical level, engaging bandhas during a practice offers support during movement within and between individual postures. Accessing them can be as simple as pulling your chin towards your chest or as subtle as engaging your pelvic floor muscles gently.
On a more energetic level, bandhas direct the flow of energy within the body. This can be defined as Prana, the flow of energy in and Apana, the flow of energy out. The bandhas create a container within in the body to make the most of this energy.
There are 3 main bandhas, with a fourth tying them all together:
Mula Bandha ~ the root lock
Physically it’s located near the base of the pelvis, the perineum muscles. When accessed they can help ground and stabilise while you you’re seated or moving. The simplest way of explaining the sensation is to imagine you desperately need to go to the bathroom and you’re holding on.
Uddiyana Bandha ~ the flying lock
It’s located near the naval and upper abdomen, just below the rib cage. There are specific breathing techniques that access this bandha and should be practiced under the guidance of an experienced teacher. On a basic level, this is the arm balance enthusiasts best friend. When accessed it can provide a source of liftoff and lightness, which helps in transitions and movements like jumpthroughs and jumpbacks, as well as moving into inversions smoothly.
Jalandhara Bandha ~ the chin lock
Accessed by dropping the chin towards the chest to constrict the air flow for a prescribed amount of time. It’s less frequently used than the other two, but comes up more in pranayama or breath work.
Maha Bandha ~ the great lock
This fourth ‘bandha’ is actually the combination of all three aforementioned bandhas. Maha Bandha is generally only taken up by one when they have mastered the first three basic locks.
When you master the locks, your master the yoga practice, the practice on the outside — floating in and out of asanas, holding for long periods of time, and managing new positions – and the practice on the inside – consistent single pointed concentration, steady and long breath, and a calm, clear mind.
Explore the bandhas this month in your classes as the Kula teachers weave this focus into their teaching.
About the author: Andy Broadbear is a qualified yoga teacher & therapist, who specialises in pre + postnatal yoga, and studio assistant at Kula. She is also a mum of two, health & wellness blogger and hobby photographer.
Kula Yoga has a beautiful hot yoga studio on Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn, Melbourne. Kula offers ‘Hot Yoga’ classes for detoxification, dynamic poweryoga ‘Flow Yoga’ as well as a gentle ‘Light Yin Yoga’ option. Beginners through to advanced students are welcome to all classes. Kula also provides prenatal & postnatal yoga classes, and provides Melbourne workplaces with group corporate yoga programs to build employee health, fitness and wellbeing, and school yoga programs. Kula also runs an annual ‘Kula Cruise’ yoga retreat sailing from Bali to Lombok & the Gili Islands. Find out more on our website www.kulayoga.com.au. Or follow us:
Facebook: Kula Yoga Australia
Instagram – @kulayoga
Twitter – Kula Yoga Australia
Youtube – Kula Yoga Australia