Yoga 101: What the Heck is a Bandha?

It’s another beautiful week at Symmetry Yoga Alameda, and this time we’re talking about one of the more mysterious and ancient parts of the Yoga practice: the Bandhas!

This is one of the exciting areas of Yoga, where modern science has been confirming ancient wisdom. According to the ancients, the Bandhas are energetic thresholds in the body, where the flow of Prana (aka “life force”) can be harnessed for our benefit through meditative practices. Thermal scans of human bodies have confirmed what the ancient Yogis knew: that different flavors of energy live in specific anatomical places, and that our focused attention can be used to influence that energy’s flow.

This ties in directly with the work of Yoga: to use our breath, focus and movement to “change the channel”, creating freedom and ease in our bodies and lives.

According to the ancient Yogis, there are three main Bandhas that can be consciously controlled with relative ease during practice. There are many other lesser Bandhas that more advanced meditation practitioners can employ, but the most important ones are Mula Bandha (at the pelvic floor) Uddiyana Bandha (at the diaphragm) and Jalandara Bandha (at the throat).

These three Bandhas (or “locks”) can be engaged and released as a valuable part of the yoga practice. Engaging Jalandara Bandha helps us hold energy in during breathing exercises (see the blog post on Ujjayi Pranayama for more information). Uddiyana Bandha helps stretch the connective tissue that anchors the diaphragm, allowing us to take significantly deeper breaths. Engaging Mula Bandha helps us strengthen the pelvic floor and, when combined with Jalandara Bandha, traps Prana and breath in the torso, enhancing the benefits of a number of poses.

Does this sound complicated? Well no worries! The team at Symmetry Yoga Alameda would love to help teach you more about the Bandhas, and how you can use them to enhance your yoga practice, and your overall health and vitality! Check out the current schedule and come give your system a tune-up. Your body will thank you later!