What is Yoga Bandha
The word Bandha means “a lock” – in yoga it refers to a muscular contraction which aims to increase physical strength, muscular control, support the spine and the subtle energy. The practice of yoga bandha intends to rise the body’s subtle energy upward. In Ashtanga yoga it is practiced through out the asana session, other yoga practices use bandha only during breathing practice or meditation.
Engaging the bandha during yoga practice can increase breathing capacity, help to make you feel stronger and lighter during yoga asana practice, enabling you to perform more yoga movements.
Types of Yoga Bandha
- Jalandhara Bandha – Chin or Throat Lock: it consists of moving the chin down toward the chest and the chest toward the chin, contracting the throat to control the escape of breath and energy of the body through breathing. A gentle Ujjayi breath can be used while performing jalandhara bandha.
- Mula Bandha – Root Lock: contraction of the perineal area, where the pelvic floor muscles are lifted, increasing the body’s core strength, which results in mental and physical lightness. In the practice of Ashtanga yoga the front of the pelvic floor is contracted throughout the asanas.
- Uddiyana Bandha – Abdominal Retraction or upward flying lock: it consists of lifting the low abdominal muscles to improve the action of mula bandha, it also strengthen the lower back and forces energy upward the body. Draw the muscles beneath the naval in and up, this action may also lift mula bandha automatically. The lower abdomen should remain still when you inhale and exhale, the chest should inflate with the inhalation. Keep the diaphragm and the lower part of the ribcage soft, without tension through uddiyana bandha.
- Maha Bandha – Triple Lock: This is a combination of the first three locks together.
Marcia has been practising yoga for over 20 years and has specialised in the Hatha and Ashtanga schools of yoga, although has also enjoyed learning other branches such as Iyengar. As well as yoga she practices meditation, and plays a wide range of sports, including badminton, cricket, cycling, and walking.