If you work with the energetic body or subtle body then learning about working with the bandhas can be a powerful practice to incorporate into guiding your flow of energy.
What Are Bandhas?
Bandhas are part of yoga which works to direct and utilize our prana. Prana can be understood as the underlying life-force energy that connects and sustains all life. Working with prana is used to heal and cleanse the physical, mental, and spiritual bodies.
If you have some understanding of how the chakras function this will help explain the use of bandhas. The chakras are the main energy centers within the body that correlate to different aspects of our being.
The chakras are depicted as spinning circles of prana or energy. When a chakra becomes blocked then the prana, which correlates to our health and well being, struggles to flow through us.
A blockage will then shapes the rest of our auric fields flow and can bring us to be out of balance. Like a river going off course when the stream becomes blocked. Bandhas are here to help us direct the flow of prana so that we can remove blockages and be at our optimal state of wellbeing.
The energy flow within our being is bidirectional which means we take in energy and we let go of energy. Prana is the new energy flowing in and revitalizing you while the apana is the energy leaving you and being released.
Bandhas translates from Sanskrit to bind or bond. They are part of yoga where one forms an energetic as well as physical body sort of bondage that works to gather, collect, and guide the prana.
This bandha is also referred to as the throat or chin lock. To find this bandha sit with the spine erect, legs crossed, and hands relaxed on the knees.
Take an inhale and on your exhale or while retaining the breath after the inhale, bring the chin towards your chest. Create a slight constriction in the neck muscles. You can exhale within this bandha and hold it until you need to take another breath.
Then lift the chin and head to inhale gently. You can return to the bandha if this is in your practice. You can follow this guided recording to practice the Jalandhara bandha
The benefits of Jalandhara bandha include helping to regulate metabolism, balancing the thyroid, and clearing the throat chakra.
The Uddiyana bandha is all about hollowing out the abdomen back towards the spine and up towards the ribs by using the diaphragm. Uddiyana translates from Sanskrit to flying up.
To find this position begin standing with the feet hip-width apart, slight bend in the knees, and palms pressing into the lower region of the thighs so that you are supporting the trunk.
This practice is done on breath retention and involves exhaling fully to then suck the abdomen back towards the spine and up under your ribs. The ribs should be flying out while the abdomen is sucked in.
It is similar to a false inhale where without breathing in any oxygen you metaphorically breathe your abdomen up towards your lungs. This bandha creates a gentle massage for the deep internal organs and moves your energy upwards.
This bandha is associated with the root chakra is it is right at the root chakra’s position as it is commonly referred to as the root lock. This bandha involves “locking” or pulling the area of the perineum inwards.
The distinction of actively pulling the perineum up will take practice to isolate as at first the sphincter will also lock. The Mula bandha for male bodies can be found through contracting and squeezing the area between the testes and the anus. While for women’s bodies this is not the same muscle used in Kegels.
Though for both men and women it can be found by looking at the tip of the nose and feeling what muscle contracts. This bandha helps increase energy as it directs the flow of energy upwards rather than downwards.
Continue Holistic Healing
If you would like to learn more about continuing your journey of deepening your spiritual practice and your holistic healing, check out another yoga technique, pranayama. Here is a list of the best pranayama to do before bed as well as a deep cleansing pranayama, Simha kriya.