Mula bandha is called the root lock and is an important yoga practice. Mula Bandha is one of three major Bandhas, along with Uddiyana Bandha (upward lifting of the diaphragm) and Jalandhara Bandha (chin or throat lock).
Mula is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Root, Origin, Essence’ like the root of a plant or tree. In yoga mula indicates the base of the torso, the perineum. Bandha means ‘lock’ and so we see Mula bandha is ‘the root lock’.
In men, mula bandha results from contractions of the muscles surrounding the perineal body, which lies midway between the anus and the genitals. For women, the contraction of mula bandha is said to be felt not at the perineal body, but at the area surrounding the base of the cervix.
On a physical level, mula bandha consists of a contraction, a muscular lifting-up in the floor of the pelvis. Though it might seem to be a simple physical movement, contracting your anus with awareness can be the first step on a trip toward contacting your cosmic identity.
Pranayama and Meditation
Mula bandha is used with both pranayama and meditation. Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling the breath, which is the source of our prana, or vital life force. Prana is a Sanskrit word that means ‘life force’ and ayama means ‘extending or stretching’. Thus, the word “pranayama” translates to the control of life force. It is also known as the extension of breath.
The intermediate physical level of mula bandha involves isolating the contraction of the perineum (the region between the anus and the genitals). On a deeper level applying mula bandha means binding the normally outgoing senses inward. In this way we can see mula bandha being used with pranayama practice and meditation.
Some say that practicing mula bandha makes the body less earth-bound. It is also said that mula bandha is the energetic lock which allows a yogi to perform the most challenging tasks with little or no effort.
Mula bandha can be stabilizing and calming and it also enhances the energy of concentration. Once you can comfortably hold mula bandha, you can employ it during pranayama exercises and meditation.
Practicing mula bandha should not be rushed, because working slowly and gradually allows the muscles to strengthen at the same time that mental discrimination is developing. It takes careful attention and regular practice to get this right.
Mula bandha is a technique for containing and channeling the energy associated with the mula-dhara (“root place”) chakra. Located at the tip of the spine, muladhara chakra represents the stage of consciousness where basic survival needs dominate.The muladhara chakra is also the root from which energy is said to permeate the human body and mind. When this energy is calm and secure, life itself is more relaxed.
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It is said that the bandhas are yogic techniques that can lead to transcendence. Mula bandha creates attentiveness in the supportive musculature of the pelvis. Thus mula bandha strengthens, and teaches the importance of, the solid foundation that should underlie any movement.
Practicing mula bandha on the highest level, the yogi sees the Divine in all with equanimity and detachment. Mula bandha can be used to move toward higher states of consciousness.
Benefits of Mula Bandha
Mula bandha has the effect of restraining energy at the perineum, so in this sense it is stabilizing and calming. It also has the effect of gently enhancing the energy of concentration.
A variety of physical benefits have been attributed to mula bandha. It has been suggested that through this practice respiration rates are lowered, heart rate and blood pressure reduced, sympathetic arousal calmed, digestion improved, urogenital functioning harmonized and even unstable menstrual periods can be regulated.
Developing awareness of the space between the pubis and coccyx in yoga poses, as well as the space between the sitting bones on the sides, can help alleviate already existing tightness, tension and lower back pain and can even counteract the possibility of lower back injury whether on the mat or off.
Yoga experts say that these 3 bandhas (locks) must be completed in a precise yogic manner in order to fully realize their proper function. They should be taught by a qualified yoga teacher so the student learns them correctly.
They say that students should complete a path of yoga training prior to using these advanced methods and implement them with a full system of yoga practice.
However, preliminary versions of mula bandha are suitable for many students and have beneficial effects for health as well as self-awareness.
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