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A different way to work with the bandhas

I’ve been exploring accessing the bandhas from a very different place; it’s had a profound effect on my yoga practice.

Bandhas are energetic locks in the body. In a physical sense they are, as my fellow EkhartYoga teacher, Jennilee Toner, puts it: “the activation and engagement of muscle fibres in strategic areas of the body, that support the toning and lifting of the systems of the body against the natural laws of gravity”.

The main bandhas are:

  • Mula bandha – Root lock, involving the pelvic floor muscles

  • Uddiyana bandha – Upward flying lock around the lower belly

  • Jalandhara bandha – Throat lock

  • Maha bandha – The great lock, combining the previous three bandhas

  • Pada bandha – Foot lock

  • Hasta bandha – Hand lock

There’s already a great deal written about bandhas from an anatomical perspective and this is a useful place to start to get a sense of where they are in the body. I recommend reading Jennilee’s article if you’re not already familiar with them.

What’s the purpose of the bandhas?

While activating the bandhas may result in an experience of lightness in the body during asanas, their real purpose is to awaken consciousness within the central energy channel of the body – the Sushumna Nadi.

Over the past few years I’ve been working with the bandhas in a very different way – approaching them with an intention of softness and release, rather than by engaging the muscles. It’s had a profound effect on my yoga practice.

In this article I talk about accessing the bandhas experientially and suggest different asanas where you can explore the feeling of them in your own body. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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