Early in my yoga path, I connected with an ashtanga yoga teacher who stopped me in my tracks when she asked me after class one day, “Emily are you even trying?” My response was, “Actually no I am not…..” Hence began my commitment to myself. 🙂
In taking Claudia’s classes, I learned about the Bandhas and loved that I could focus on areas of my body to help me move through the postures. My favourite was engaging my bandhas off the yoga mat – like on the dance floor or balancing walking over rocks on hikes! What is more fun than yelling out to your friends at random times…”engage your bandhas!” Which is exactly what I did in this picture with my friend Sri!
Since then I have been more grounded in my body in yoga and walking through precarious situations in life. Here are the Bandhas in all their glory.
Mula Bandha (root lock): is a contraction of the pubococcygeus muscle – this is the space between your genitals and anus. The best way to feel this contraction is to pretend that you are stopping urination midstream. You can contract and release continuously to feel and to strengthen your pelvic floor like the kegal exercises. Be careful not to contract other muscles around it like the glutes. Engaging increases the stability of the pelvis and creates a safe environment for spinal movement. Mula bandha strengthens and teaches the importance of the solid foundation that should underlie any movement.
Uddiyana Bandha (naval lock): draws energy up from Mula Bandha and up through the spinal column. It helps us to feel lighter and overcome the force of gravity. The action is inhaling while relaxing the stomach outward and exhaling while pulling the stomach in and up toward the spine. You can perform this action while moving between and during postures with your breath. As we strengthen our abdominal muscles, we take pressure off our low back.
Jalandhara Bandha (throat lock): Jalandhara Bandha engages and tones the neck muscles and also activates and energizes the throat. Nod your head towards your chest then draw your chin backwards to compress the throat slightly and place your tongue at the top of your mouth.
These three locks are combined into one great lock called Maha Bandha.
Pada Bandha (foot lock): Our posture starts with stability in the feet and the Pada Bandha will assist you in grounding by spreading your weight between the 3 arches in your foot. Start by grounding your ankle into your heel and pressing into your arch from your ankle to your little toe – then cross the arch from your little toe to big toe. The third arch completes the triangular foundation from the big toe back to the heel. This is especially helpful in balancing postures, standing in line and of course on the dance floor!
Hasta Bandha (hand lock): is how your hand connects with the ground underneath it as it supports your weight. Spread your fingers and press them into your mat or floor. The base of your hand is like a suction cup pulling energy up and connecting with the ground. This will be helpful in protecting your wrists in yoga and for grounding in random cartwheels and handstands in life!
As we become more in tune with our bodies on and off the mat we have more stability and strength and less opportunity for injury and more opportunity to age with grace!
Reference: The Kula Collective 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training Manual. Love you guys!