Keep Calm and Hold Your Mula Bandha

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Ah yes.  The Mula Bandha.

Most of us haven’t gone through a yoga class without hearing our teacher speak these words at some point.  And unless you’ve taken a teacher training, googled these mysterious words or asked your teacher about them, you’re probably still asking yourself, “What is this Mula Bandha thing they keep talking about?”

The Sanskrit word for mula means root, origin, foundation, or base.  Bandha, in Sanskrit, means to lock, hold or tighten.  Therefore, Mula Bandha basically means root lock.  It is located at the base of the torso, in between the anus and genitals (called the perineum), and, when activated, it allows us to take our asana practice to a whole other level and fly!

You’ve seen videos on Instagram or Youtube of yogis floating in and out of asanas, right?  They seem to defy gravity as they lower from handstand down into crow pose or jump through from downward facing dog to seated.  We, on the other hand, are sitting there thinking to ourselves, “I could never do that!”  Ah, but you can, and it starts with connecting to the Mula Bandha.

When you learn how to apply Mula Bandha, you begin to work your practice from the inside out, enabling you to hold poses longer, float effortlessly in and out of asanas, focus on your breath and maintain a clear and relaxed mind.  In addition, the more you train the Mula Bandha, the stronger your pelvic region becomes.  This creates a safe platform for all spinal movement and thus, prevents injury.

So what is your Mula Bandha?

The easiest way to explain it is to imagine that you are on a long road trip and you have to go pee. The problem is is that the next rest stop is 40 miles away.  The muscles that you automatically contract so that you don’t relieve yourself in the car before you get there are generally what is considered the Mula Bandha region.

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How to Mula Bandha

Use the image above to help you visualize where the Mula Bandha is located inside your body. Now, sit in a comfortable, seated position and contract the muscles in between your anus and genitals by lifting inward and upward.  Tighten and hold. Don’t forget to breathe normally as you do so!

In the beginning, you will most likely engage your anus muscles at the same time.  But with practice, you will be able to isolate the contraction and lift only the perineum (in men) or the area surrounding the base of the cervix (for women).  Once you accomplish this, you’re well on you way to reaping the benefits of this energetic lock.

Just like any skill in life, this takes consistent practice.  And lots of it. To experience the full extent of the root lock’s brilliance, you should practice engaging your Mula Bandha daily. Perform this exercise when you’re walking or driving home from work, laying in bed at night, or just sitting down watching a movie.  When practicing your asanas, try to hold this lock for the entire duration of the class.  This will ensure that your energy flows in and up, as opposed to down and out.  You will feel lighter on your mat and more energized after class.

And, yogis, please remember: try not to get frustrated if you aren’t able to float through your vinyasa or don’t really understand how to engage those muscles down there at all yet.  It is a process, just like all facets of your yoga practice are.

Just keep calm and practice, practice, practice.  And if you do, you will eventually find and master your Mula Bandha and fly!

 

For a more thorough explanation of how to practice finding and training your Mula Bandha, please visit this link:  https://yogainternational.com/article/view/a-beginners-guide-to-mula-bandha-root-lock

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