We talk a lot about Bandhas in yoga so let’s explore them in more detail.
There are 5 major bandhas in the body and this is my definition of The Bandhas “the bandhas are subtle and refined uses of muscular awareness to promote strength in the physical body (think Uddiyana Bandha in planks) but to also redirect and to efficiently use energy throughout the body.” The Bandhas help us to move with grace and to better incorporate the principle of Sukha (effortless work) in our movements.
The main point to understand is that while we talk about the bandhas as individual events or areas of awareness (i.e. belly or pelvic floor ect) nothing in the body happens in isolation (well very little). So when we talk about say, Uddiyana bandha and we talk about activating the belly and deep core line it isn’t just the drawing in of the belly that we are talking about. And truth be told most teachers will tell you to Pull the belly in and up (guilty as charged) but that really isn’t correct because if that’s all we do then we can’t breathe right?…Go ahead, suck the belly in to the spine (think trying to pull on your skinny jeans) and then try to lift it up… what happens to the breath? Nothing right?! ‘Cause you can’t breathe! And you know if you aren’t breathing it isn’t Yoga. Lets try this instead…take a smooth deep breath in….. Notice the soft expansion of the rib cage, not just the lift in the front near the sternum but the movement around the sides and maybe even into the back pf the ribs, try to keep the rips expanded and then exhale by pressing the belly into the body BUT leave the spine neutral, you may even feel a bit more expansion of the rib cage and the feeling as if you are bringing the hip points towards to mid line of the body and guess what you can still breathe! Another important point is that the body isn’t just what you see in the mirror i.e. the front of your body….It helps to think of your ‘core’, your torso as a tube. A circular body of wondrous activity, of energetic flow, of Pranic movement. And just as muscular engagement helps move lymphatic fluid through the body so can muscular contraction (and flexion) aid in the movement of prana.
Of course that’s just Uddiana Bandha, there are 4 other major bandhas ….
Uddiyana Banda (Belly seal)
Mula Bandha (Pelvic Floor seal)
Hasta Banda (Hand seal)
Pada Bandha (Foot seal)
Jalandhara Banda (Throat seal)
We will talk about the others soon but for now go explore the bandhas and relax and be at ease throughout your poses, no struggling, no gritting of the teeth and no holding of the breath. It’s all about the Sukha Baby, effortless work. If you’re struggling you are trying too hard. Namaste my Lovelies