What are bandhas or energetic closures?

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March 15, 2022

The word bandha means lock or key. It consists of a controlled and sustained contraction in time of a specific area of the body while holding the breath, with full or empty lungs.

The bandhas have their origin in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the most important text or manual written about Hatha Yoga. Its author, the yogi Svatmarama lived in the middle of the 14th century AD. This work pursues the integration between the physical disciplines and the higher spiritual practices of raja yoga.

How many bandhas are there?

There are 4 energetic locks or bandhas:

  • Mula Bandha or root lock: it is applied with the elevation and contraction of the pelvic floor (our sphincters). This bandha stimulates and awakens the dormant energy found at the base of the spine, also strengthens and protects the pelvic floor.
  • Uddiyana Bandha: is performed by contracting the abdominal area without air in the lungs. Uddiyana in Sanskrit means to rise and the practice of this bandha consists of raising the diaphragm generating an abdominal vacuum, absorbing the internal organs, so that they ascend. Among its benefits are: Massages the abdominal organs favoring digestion, assimilation and evacuation, Stimulates and decongests the liver and pancreas, Strengthens the abdominal wall.
  • Jalandhara Bandha or closing of the throat: is performed by inhaling air and lifting the chin slightly down and the tongue back and up - closes the glottis. It regulates the circulatory and respiratory systems, stimulates the thyroid to balance the metabolism, and is said to cure all throat diseases.
  • Maha Bandha: refers to the joint practice of the three previous techniques at the same time. It affects the hormonal secretions of the pineal gland and regulates the entire endocrine system. It calms anger and relaxes the mind.

What are the bandhas for?

The activation and contraction of these bandhas act on the different organs, glands and the nervous system with energetic and purifying effects, and help to maintain concentration and protect the body during practice.

Practicing bandhas has an impact on:

  • Physical level: they have a beneficial effect on the musculature, nerves, blood vessels, internal organs and endocrine system.
  • Energetic and mental level: in yo,ga the function of the bandhas is to channel and accumulate the prana (vital energy) towards the central channel (Sushumna). The accumulation of prana in Sushumna intensifies the activity of the chakras and helps to dissolve psychic knots. These effects are optimized when bandhas are combined with mudras, asanas and pranayama.

How to practice the bandhas?

To practice the bandhas, it is best to find a yoga class or a teacher who can teach you the postures and the correct execution of the bandhas. In this way, you can learn to control your breathing and improve your yoga practice.

Practicing asana without accompanying it with pranayama or bandhas, undoubtedly has its benefits, very similar to any other sport activity in which the muscles are stretched and toned.

When we begin to introduce bandhas in our practice we begin to direct the prana in a conscious way, not only to move it waiting for the results that Natura wants to offer us, but to take the reins of where and how to place our prana to achieve our highest aspirations. You should not try to apply the bandhas if: you are pregnant, have blood pressure disorders, have any type of abdominal disease or condition, have intestinal disorders or hernia, or suffer from heart disease.

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