Bandha

Bandha means to lock, close-off, to stop. In the practice of a Bandha, the energy flow to a particular area of the body is blocked. When the Bandha is released, this causes the energy to flood more strongly through the body with an increased pressure.

There are four types of Bandhas:
• Mula Bandha - Anal Lock
• Uddiyana Bandha - Lifting of the Diaphragm
• Jalandhara Bandha - Chin Lock
• Maha Bandha - Practice of all three Bandhas at the same time.

Generally, the breath is held during practice of the Bandhas. Mula Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha can be performed after the inhalation as well as after the exhalation. Uddiyana Bandha and Maha Bandha are only performed after the exhalation.
Benefits:
• As the Bandhas momentarily stop the flow of blood, there is an increased flow of fresh blood with the release of the Bandha, which flushes away old, dead cells. In this way all the organs are strengthened, renewed and rejuvenated and circulation is improved.
• Bandhas are also beneficial for the brain centres, the Nadis and the Chakras. The energy channels are purified, blockages released and the exchange of energy is improved. Bandhas alleviate stress and mental restlessness and bring about inner harmony and balance.

Caution:
• Before attempting to perform the Bandhas, the breathing techniques of the previous levels must have been practiced regularly for a long period of time.
• Before proceeding with the breath exercise in this and the following levels, first read and study the explanation given for the relevant Bandhas and Mudras as they are incorporated into the breathing techniques.

 

Mula Bandha - Anal Lock
Starting Position: Meditation Pose
Concentration: on the Muladhara Chakra
Breath: inhale deeply and hold the breath
Repetitions: 3–5 rounds

Practice: Inhale deeply and hold the breath. Place the hands on the knees, raise the shoulders and tilt the upper body slightly forward. Concentrate on the Muladhara Chakra and firmly contract the anal muscles. >Hold the muscular contraction and the breath as long as possible and comfortable. >With a long exhalation return to the starting position. >Breathing normally remain in this position for some time.

Benefits: Strengthens the pelvic floor, relieves haemorrhoids and congestion in the pelvic area. Calms the autonomic nervous system, calms and relaxes the mind. On the spiritual level, Mula Bandha activates and purifies the Muladhara Chakra. It awakens dormant consciousness and the Kundalini Shakti.

Caution: A longer and more intensive practice of Mula Bandha should only be undertaken with the guidance of an experienced “Yoga in Daily Life” instructor.


Uddiyana Bandha - Lifting the Diaphragm
Starting Position: Meditation Pose or Standing
Concentration: on the Manipura Chakra
Breath: completely exhale and hold the breath out
Repetitions: 3–5 rounds

Practice: Completely exhale and hold the breath out. Place the hands on the knees, raise the shoulders and tilt the body forward slightly, keeping the back straight. (To practice this Bandha standing, separate the legs a little and bend the knees slightly.) >Concentrate on the Manipura Chakra, pull the abdominal muscles in and up into the abdominal cavity as far as possible. >Hold the position as long as comfortable. >Release the muscular tension and return to the starting position with a deep inhalation. >Breathing normally remain for some time in this position.

Benefits: Activates the Manipura Chakra and solar plexus. Stimulates intestinal activity and helps relieve constipation. Stimulates the pancreas and is helpful for diabetes. Strengthens the immune system. Balances the mind, soothes irritability and anger and dispels a depressive mood.

Caution: Perform only on an empty stomach! Do not practice this Bandha with high blood pressure.


Jalandhara Bandha - Chin Lock
Starting Position: Meditation Pose
Concentration: on the Vishuddhi Chakra
Breath: inhale deeply and hold the breath
Repetitions: 3–5 rounds

Practice: Inhale deeply and hold the breath. Place the hands on the knees, lift the shoulders and tilt the body forward slightly, keeping the back straight. Press the chin firmly against the chest or between the collarbones so that the windpipe and oesophagus are firmly closed. >Concentrate on the Vishuddhi Chakra and hold the breath for as long as comfortable. >Raise the head and with a long exhalation return to the starting position. >Breathing normally remain in this position for some time.

Benefits: This exercise awakens the inner energy centres, especially the Vishuddhi Chakra. Improves the ability to retain the breath for a long period of time and develops the ability to concentrate. Beneficial for throat diseases and regulates thyroid function.

Caution: The breath should only be held for as long as easily possible. Consult a Doctor before practicing if there is an existing thyroid problem.


Maha Bandha - The Great Bandha
Starting Position: Meditation Pose
Concentration: on the Muladhara, Manipura and Vishuddhi Chakras
Breath: exhale completely and hold the breath
Repetitions: 3–5 rounds

Practice: Inhale deeply and exhale fully through the mouth. >Hold the breath out. >Place the hands on the knees, raise the shoulders and tilt the upper body forward slightly, keeping the back straight. >Perform Jalandhara Bandha and concentrate on the Vishuddhi Chakra. >Perform Uddiyana Bandha and concentrate on the Manipura Chakra. >Finally, come into Mula Bandha and concentrate on the Muladhara Chakra. >Remain in this position, with all three Bandhas maintained, for as long as the breath can easily be held. >Release the Bandhas in the same sequence as they were applied. >Inhale deeply and return to the starting position. Breathing normally remain for some time in this position.

Benefits: Beneficial for the health of the whole body, especially the autonomic nervous system, internal organs, muscles and nerves. Has a positive influence upon the mind.