Do you want to know the secret to level up your yoga practice? Well, it is nothing special that you should look out for. Rather, you must seek within and activate your yoga bandhas. Chances are you might not be aware of yoga bandhas. So, to help you go through it, we have prepared a brief guide that will help you learn about bandhas.
So, you’ll be reading about what are yoga bandhas, different types of yoga bandhas, and how they came into origin. Further, you should check when is the right time to practice yoga bandhas. Also, you’ll come across numerous benefits of practicing yoga bandhas. Most importantly, we help you understand how to inculcate yoga bandhas in your routine. Read on.
What is Yoga Bandhas?
Bandhas came from Sanskrit that roughly translates to ‘lock’. Practicing bandhas locks the energy flowing through your body for a time being. When you release the lock, the energy flows naturally.
Physically, different parts of the human body have sphincters attached to them. To lock out the energy, you need to contract the attached sphincter to the organ. In a layman language, a sphincter is a round ring-like structure that relaxes and contracts.
The good news is you can consciously relax or contract the muscles to close or open the lock. A simple example would be the human digestive system. Various sphincters are responsible to push food from your mouth to the intestines without letting it move any other way.
Different Yoga Bandhas & Their Origin
You should be aware of different types of yoga bandhas. So, make sure you go through the following points. Being aware of them helps you easily identify and practice them individually.
The sphincter present in the anus makes up the Mula bandha. Usually, Mula bandha is associated with breath control. So, you contract the anal passage to enter into the Mula bandha position.
How to Practice:
- The very first thing you should do is sit in a comfortable position.
- Once you have done that, now imagine you want to urinate or use the loo.
- However, you cannot leave at this moment.
- So, you make efforts to hold either urine or bowel movement.
- Squeeze the muscles around your pelvic area.
- Once you get comfortable with the sensations, hold it for longer.
- Start with 3 seconds hold and release until you move to an 8-10 seconds hold.
Note: Make sure your upper body is relaxed and calm. Only use your pelvic muscles and contract gently.
You use a sphincter in your stomach as well as throat to do Uddiyana bandha. Furthermore, this also uses active breath control. So, make sure you learn about that before practicing this lock.
Tip: Make sure you practice this lock on an empty stomach.
How to Practice:
- Begin with sitting or standing in a comfortable position.
- Breathe out all the air from your body.
- So, make sure you empty your lungs and stomach.
- Once that is done, suck your stomach in without breathing in.
- Your stomach touches your spine and the diaphragm shifts into the thoracic cavity.
- Hold this lock for a few seconds or until you are comfortable.
- Slowly release the abdomen to let the air flow through your body.
You can expect a little coughing while practicing the Uddiyana bandha. Moreover, you should not breathe in when you are squeezing the muscles.
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In Jalandhara bandha, you use the contracting muscles present in your throat. Moreover, it includes an active movement of your chin. Therefore, in case you have neck pain, you should consult a medical professional.
How to Practice:
- Get into a comfortable position, either sit down or remain standing.
- Breathe in until your lungs are half-filled.
- Further, make sure you do not breathe in or out.
- Lower your chin so that it rests on your chest.
- Exhale when the chin is completely lowered down.
- Place your tongue against the roof of your mouth and inhale.
- Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Move your chin to the natural position while exhaling.
All three yoga bandhas collectively form a Maha bandha. However, there is a catch when you practice Maha bandha.
All the other three yoga bandhas are practiced in internal breath retention. However, in Maha bandha, you contract every muscle with external breath retention.
Therefore, you should master the other three before practicing the Maha lock.
Newbie yoga practitioners might be thinking about how to know when is the right time to practice yoga bandhas. Being aware of the right time to practice locks is a crucial decision. Therefore, you should check out the below-mentioned points.
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Right Time to Practice Yoga Bandhas
At first, you should become aware of different sphincters present in different locations of your body. That can be done when you learn how to contract muscles consciously while practicing different yoga asanas.
Further, you can begin with the Mula bandha while practicing various seated yoga poses. Once you are comfortable with it in a seated position, you can practice it while standing.
As you master it, slowly shift to the next yoga bandha. Make sure you practice the Mula bandha once in a while to stay conscious of the muscles used.
Therefore, you keep on stepping up once you master a single yoga bandha. Moreover, keep experimenting with different time frames, movements, and asanas.
In short, there is no right time to inculcate yoga bandhas into your yoga routine. It depends on your experiences and level of yoga practice.
Benefits of Practicing Yoga Bandhas
You must be thinking about why you should go through all this hassle. Can’t you practice yoga without practicing yoga bandhas? Well, the reasons are many. A few of them are mentioned below. Keep reading.
1. Muscle Control
Practicing different yoga bandhas means you contract different muscles. Therefore, your control over your body increases. Also, these smaller sphincters strengthen the surrounding area. Therefore, tendons, ligaments, and muscle fibers grow exponentially.
It makes you stronger over time that ensures you practice different yoga poses perfectly. Muscle control also stops energy leakage.
2. Stimulate Organs
Contracting and squeezing organs massages and stimulates them. Therefore, your heart, lungs, or diaphragm works efficiently and effectively. Moreover, it boosts their performance under pressure.
In short, different yoga bandhas extend the capacity of crucial organs that enhance your overall growth.
3. Activate Latent Muscles
Latent means hidden. There are various muscles that you can’t feel unless you contract them. That is what practicing yoga bandhas help you with. You become aware of numerous latent muscles that support your overall growth.
Hence, yoga bandhas help you explore various hidden dimensions of your physical body. This encourages you to increase the intensity of yoga practice.
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4. Efficient Working of Organs
The efficiency of different organs present inside your human body decreases over time. Reasons could be stress, minimal usage, or over-stimulation. Therefore, practicing yoga bandhas ensures you use your organs rightfully.
Hence, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that your heart and lungs grow to pump essential nutrients every second.
1. Activate Chakras
Energy points are subtle. They are also known as chakras. Contracting different muscles helps in harnessing energy inside your body. Later, you can use this energy to activate different energy points.
So, it is one of the biggest benefits of practicing yoga bandhas. Moreover, the activation of chakras helps you move towards spiritual awakening.
2. Harness More Energy
As discussed above, you harness more energy when you inculcate yoga bandhas in your yoga routine. You can use this energy whenever or wherever you wish to. In short, you are never out of energy while practicing intense yoga poses.
Mastering such intense energy facilitates you to nurture yourself inside out. Hence, you stay always on your toes to do any yoga pose.
3. Stronger Visualization
Visualization is a powerful meditation technique that helps you become aware of what you wish for. That further helps you shift from one reality to other infinite possibilities. Yoga bandhas strengthen the command on your muscles.
However, it also requires your mind to map out the location of that muscles. In short, your imagination improves when you make these locks a part of your life.
4. Mastering Breath
Breath is one of the powerful elements of yoga practice. Without its proper utilization, you might not prosper in yoga practice. Moreover, practicing internal and external retention helps you learn the basic functioning of the lungs.
Practicing different breathing exercises helps in flushing out toxins from your physical and astral body.
As a beginner, you should inculcate yoga bandhas in your routine. The reason is you get so many powerful benefits in life.
However, you should know how to get started. Well, the very first thing that you can do is practice yoga poses. Not just random yoga poses, rather, those that assist you to inculcate yoga bandhas in your routine. So, make sure you go through the following yoga poses.
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Basic Yoga Poses to Practice Yoga Bandhas
One of the easiest yoga poses to activate the Mula bandha is the Mountain pose. It has no tricky or complex movements. Therefore, you can divert all your attention to focus on the flow of energy.
Make sure you squeeze your hips, anal passage, hamstrings, toes, and feet. Imagine and feel the energy rising towards your upper body. Be aware of your breath while contracting your muscles.
Standing Forward Bend
You can either start over in a Standing Forward Bend or can move from the Mountain pose to this pose. Breathe in and bend forward from your hips. Make sure your spine is straight and not rounded. Furthermore, place a yoga block in front of your feet.
Exhale and touch the yoga block. Your legs should be straight so that all the stretching shifts to your hamstrings. Along with that, squeeze the stomach muscles to practice a bandha.
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Another way to practice the lock in your stomach is to practice the Cat pose. As a beginner, you should work more on your breath control. Once you know how to breathe, you can simply focus on the physical movements, muscle contractions, and relaxing your body.
When in Cat pose position, you should exhale completely to suck out every pint of air from your body. Furthermore, suck in your stomach while rounding off your spine. It also massages your knees and palms.
The Downward Dog pose is one of the most effective yoga asanas to practice Mula and Jalandhara bandhas. However, you should be aware of the placement of your feet and heels. Make sure your feet are completely placed on the floor.
Also, the shoulder joints should be maximized for a better stretch in the stomach and throat areas. The position of your chin in this position automatically touches your chest. Hence, it is one of the crucial poses to practice the Jalandhara bandha.
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Another useful yoga poses to practice Mula yoga bandha is the Crescent Lunge position. In this position, your one hamstring is stretched at a time while the quad of the other leg is stretched. When this happens, you squeeze your hips and colon area.
This helps in stopping the leakage of energy from your body. Hence, you do not face more tiredness, rather, you direct energy into your legs. This increases the overall support of your lower body.
As you can see, yoga bandhas are crucial whether you want a physical transformation or a spiritual shift. However, learning about them should never be compromised. Therefore, you should explore different options that help you gain valuable yoga knowledge.
The best thing you can do is join a yoga teacher training course. Make sure you know everything about yoga bandhas before you look forward to practicing them. In short, never compromise on clearing your basics.
Once you gain knowledge about them, you can practice them consistently and gain perfect body and mind control.
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