As an Ashtanga yoga practitioner, you may have heard of bandhas, the “locks” or “seals” that can help accumulate and channel prana, or life force energy. These advanced yogic techniques require time and patience to master, but can be a powerful tool in taking your yoga practice to the next level. In this article, we’ll explore how to unlock the power of bandhas in Ashtanga yoga.
In Ashtanga yoga, bandhas are a part of the larger group of yogic techniques called mudras, which are designed to “seal energy.” Each bandha is said to close or seal a part of the body in order to contain and direct energy. There are three main bandhas in Ashtanga yoga:
- Mula Bandha – contraction of the pelvic floor muscles
- Uddiyana Bandha – abdominal contraction and lift
- Jalandhara Bandha – lowering the chin
Using Bandhas in Ashtanga Yoga
Bandhas can be used in various ways throughout your Ashtanga yoga practice. Here are a few ways to start incorporating bandhas into your practice:
- Use Mula Bandha in standing poses such as Tadasana and Warrior I to ground and stabilize your energy.
- Use Uddiyana Bandha in forward folds such as Uttanasana to help release tension in the lower back and stimulate the digestive system.
- Use Jalandhara Bandha in inversions such as Headstand and Shoulderstand to help regulate blood pressure and reduce stress.
When to Use Bandhas
While bandhas can be powerful tools, it’s important to know when to use them. Ashtanga yoga is a demanding practice with a specific sequence of postures, and it’s important to build a strong foundation before incorporating bandhas. As yoga teacher Maty Ezraty says, “The consequences of incorrect practice are significant and may include constipation; unhealthy tucking of the low back and reversing of the natural low back curve; menstrual cycle irregularity.”
Tips for Incorporating Bandhas
If you’re new to bandhas, here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Practice with an experienced teacher who can guide you through the proper technique and alignment.
- Start small – focus on incorporating one bandha at a time and gradually building up to using multiple bandhas.
- Stay patient and persistent – bandhas are an advanced practice that require time and practice to master.
Bandhas can be a powerful tool in Ashtanga yoga, but it’s important to approach them with respect and caution. By understanding the different bandhas and how to use them in your practice, you can unlock the power of prana and take your yoga practice to the next level. Remember to practice with patience, persistence, and the guidance of an experienced teacher, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of bandhas.