“Bandha” means to lock, close off, or stop. Bandhas are different ways of locking or contracting the body, and are said to direct the flow of energy. Bandhas momentarily stop the flow of blood and when released, allows an increased flow of fresh blood. Some refer to them as valves because they regulate the flow of energy, as a switch would control the flow of electric current. As a result, organs are strengthened, blood circulation is improved, energy blockages released, and the exchange of energy is improved. There are two minor bandhas at your hands and feet and three main bandhas that run along your spinal column.
HASTA BANDHA hand lock
Hasta Bandha assists energy up through the soft center of your palms to bring strength and stability to your arms and upper body. This is how your hand connects with the ground underneath it as it supports your weight.
To achieve Hasta Bandha, spread the fingers wide on the mat. Press down evenly through the fingers, palms, and wrists. The base of your hand is like a suction cup pulling energy up. This movement allows the inner arches of the palms to naturally lift up.
PADA BANDHA foot lock
Pada Bandha is believed to draw energy up from the soles of the feet to energize and support the legs. Pada Bandha will assist you in grounding by spreading your weight between the three arches in your foot. Start by grounding ankle into heel and pressing into 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.
To achieve this Bandha, spread the toes and press down evenly through the ball and heel of the feet. This movement allows the inner arches of the feet to naturally lift up. Another way to achieve this Bandha is to lift the toes slightly up in standing poses, this creates a natural lift of the inner arches in the feet.
JALANDHARA BANDHA throat lock
Jalandhara Bandha is located in the front of the throat. It serves to regulate the flow of energy to the heart. When the chin is slightly tucked into the chest, it creates length and space in the neck area in turn protecting your spine. When engaged, it restricts the upward flow of energy and directs energy down toward your navel.
To achieve Jalandhara Bandha, tuck the chin slightly into the chest. Contract the neck slightly as you create length and space in the shoulders and neck. UDDIYANA BANDHA core lock Uddiyana Bandha refers to engaging the abdominal muscles in order to draw energy upward in the body from the core. This bandha lifts and intensifies energy. When this area is contracted it causes the diaphragm to rise. Engaging this bandha as you practice will help you draw in deeper breaths and protect your spine.
To practice Uddiyana Bandha, on your exhale, tuck the core into the spine and hold. Release the core and come back to an inhale. Repeat.
MULA BANDHA root lock
Mula bandha is engaged to draw energy upwards in the body from the pelvic area. This Bandha is focused on the pelvic area and is similar to a kegel exercise. The benefits of this Bandha is pain relief in the pelvic area as it moves energy up through the center of your pelvic floor toward your navel and preventing it from moving down.
To practice Mula Bandha, create a gentle contraction of your pelvic area, up.
BENEFITS OF BANDHAS
- Activates all the organs of the area where Bandha is engaged
- Stimulates all glands of the endocrine system.
- Calms the brain and strengthens our emotions.
- Keeps the spine healthy.
- Strengthens the autonomic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system.
- Stimulates Mooladhara (root), Manipura (heart), and Vishuddhi (throat) Chakra.
- It helps to purify the body and mind.