Mean to bind. Bandhas are muscular contractions in the physical body that retain the circulation of prana in the subtle body. Many contemporary teachings emphasise the use of the bandhas throughout Asana practice but there are varying even conflicting views about how when and to what degree they were also widely varying views about the muscular actions and as a physical body elements with each pander as well as their affects. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika gives us the three primary bandhas, classically instructed as follows:
‘Forcefully contracting the anus so that apana vayu moves up.’
During asana mula bandha can be used when wanting a sense of lift (during standing postures, inversions, balances backbends) or flight (during jumps). During the seated poses it keeps energy from dissipating down into the floor.
‘Meaning to draw upward... Making the naval rise.’
This practice is known as the ‘upward flying bandha’ as it redirects energy upwards. This bandha is widely used throughout an asana class. It is especially useful during balance poses, inversions (including partial inversions such as downward dog) and when moving through a vinyasa.
‘Contract the throat and put the chin on the chest’
Jalandhara bandha is more often used during pranayama exercises than in asana class. It does appear spontaneously during shoulderstand and dandasana. Traditionally it is also used in every seated forward fold.
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