Whether you are already a yogi and are living your life with the lifestyle or you are just practicing once in a while because you want to. Bandhas or a lock is an important part of your yoga practice to ensure body awareness and to provide better alignment. In this article, you will discover what are Bandhas and how they can help you.
Everyone deserves to be more aware of their thoughts, behaviors, and patterns, but even of their own body. You might have attempted some yoga poses and realized the pressure against your bones and muscles was too much for you. The beauty of yoga is that there is always a way to adjust and make it work for you. Let’s discover how Bandhas might be the missing piece you are looking for.
What is a Bandha?
Whether you have been practicing Yoga for a while or you are new at it, you might have noticed that it’s not like Pilates. From breathing patterns, the flow of energy, Chakras and more. Yoga can be a physical and mental practice or even a way of living your life in a more fulfilled way. You don’t even have to do any asanas (poses).
Bandhas can help you control and regulate the flow of energy in your body. In Sanskrit, the word means “to tighten or lock”. In your regular yoga practice, the use of Bandhas can assist you in correcting your posture and aid achieve better alignment.
- Increase Blood Flow
- Promote Detoxification
- Relieve Tension
- Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- Support Mental and Emotional Health
- Create Body Awareness
- Increase Spirituality
How to use a Bandha?
When using a Bandha you voluntarily contract certain muscles to restrict blood flow. When released, an increase in blood flow will occur which will help flush dead cells and rejuvenates and strengthens your organs.
Find additional information from the article by Masterclass.com
6 Yoga Bandhas – What are Bandhas?
They are three major Bandhas, which are the Mula Bandha, the Uddiyana Bandha and the Jalandara Bandha. When activated all at once it creates a new lock which refers to Maha Bandha or Great Lock.
1. Mula Bandha – Root Lock
Mula Bandha is focused on your pelvic area. To activate this Bandha, you will engage your muscles located between your genitals and your anus. Similarly, if you would like to stop the flow of urine. This can be done in a seated pose.
- Relief pain and tension in your pelvic area
- Help increase sexual and reproductive health
2. Uddiyana Bandha – Upward Abdominal Lock
This Bandha refers to your abdominal muscles. This can be achieved by breath retention.
In a seated position, inhale and exhale. When all the air is out from exhaling, hold your breath and start to suck your stomach as much as you can towards your spine, creating the feeling of your rib cage pushing outward while keeping your spine straight. Hold in place as you can, release and inhale.
- Create stability in the body
- Increase core strength and lower abdominal muscle
- Protects your lower back
Only practice on an empty stomach
Note: When the Mula and Uddiyana Bandha are activated, this can correct your posture and create better alignment.
3. Jalandhara Bandha – Chin Lock
The Chin Lock helps to protect your neck when attempting any poses on your back. Tucking your chin to your chest creates space in your neck.
To engage this lock, bring your chin toward the clavicle bone while keeping your spine upright and keeping your shoulders down.
- Relieve tension in your neck and spine
- Help calm your mind and nerves
4. Hasta Bandha – Hand Lock
This Bandha will draw energy from your palms to support your arms and shoulders when your weight is on your hand. For example Downward Facing Dog, Handstand, Cat/Cow etc.
For visual images of yoga poses, you can refer to my other article for some examples.
To activate your Hand Lock, in all yoga poses where your hands are on the ground, simply spread your fingers wide and have the feeling of grabbing the ground underneath you from your fingertips. This will ensure your wrist is properly aligned.
If you had a partner with you and they were trying to lift your fingertips, they wouldn’t be able to.
- Avoiding wrist injury
- Protecting nerves and vessels
- Balance body weight
5. Pada Bandha – Foot Lock
The foot lock will help you feel energized from the sole of your feet to your legs. It will provide you with a foundation for all standing poses to ensure stability.
To activate this Bandha, simply stand up straight, spread your toes and try to distribute your weight from your heel to the ball of your feet. The more you play around by putting more weight on your heels versus your toes, you will be able to determine what balance means to you.
Start in a Mountain Pose and attempt to lift your toes up.
6. Maha Bandha – The Great Lock
This Bandha is achieved when all three major Bandhas are used all at once. Which refers back to the Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha.
It is a lot of information to retain when practicing yoga. My best advice, do what you can and forget the rest. If you are prone to wrist injuries, start with the hand lock, it is one Bandha that will help you avoid further damage.
We have been trained to think ahead and take on too much information all at once, is it the right way to learn? I don’t know, maybe for some. Make it as easy as possible for you. This is supposed to give you more information and awareness, not create added anxiety when you get on your mat.