If you’ve been practicing yoga for a bit, chances are you’ve heard about the elusive Mula Bandha. Maybe you’re brand spankin’ new to yoga, and hearing about it for the first time right now. Either way, let’s discuss what it is and how to work with Mula Bandha during practice.
What is Mula Bandha?
Here’s an excerpt from Moola Bandha: The Master Key:
Mula Bandha stimulates both the sensory-motor and the autonomic nervous systems in the pelvic region. When Mula Bandha is performed, pelvic stimulation activates parasympathetic fibers emerging from the spinal cord. Parasympathetic fibers emerge from the cervical (neck) and sacral (pelvic) areas only, while sympathetic fibers emerge from the thoracic (upper back) and lumbar (lower back) areas.
Forget that! In simpler terms:
Mula means Root
Bandha means lock
In yoga practice, we focus on engaging three main bandhas, and today’s focus is the most important: Mula Bandha. We’ll talk about the other ones soon.
What are Bandhas?
Bandhas are bonds located in the body. They work in conjunction with the breath, and the main goal is to circulate and control energy. When we breathe we create prana (life force), so through the awareness of Mula Bandha, we circulate the prana throughout practice, and hopefully throughout day. We’re also creating internal heat to rid the body of toxins and purify, and Mula Bandha helps to circulate the heat and purify not just the body, but also the mind.
Long story short: We build life energy with our breath, and the bandhas help circulate that energy so that we can use it throughout practice.
Okay great! So, how do I find and use Mula Bandha?
I could sit here and tell you all of the ways that I have been told about how to to find Mula Bandha, but I’m going to speak more from personal experience. I’ve heard a million and one ways to engage Mula Bandha:
1. Squeeze your anus
2. Act as though you’re stopping yourself from going to the bathroom
3. Engage the area between the genitals and the anus.
(Okay, three ways)
Soooooo…… which one is it?
Mula bandha is located at the perineum, and is a slight lift of the pelvic floor.
Again, what the hell does that mean and how do I do that?
From my personal experience, Mula Bandha is all created through complete awareness. It’s not important that you understand where the perineum is, or where Mula Bandha is located exactly, but more to understand the area where it’s located so you can put your awareness there.
I spent a lot of time looking at diagrams, concentrating and trying to find and feel something special. I would do all of these practices that I would read about on how to find and search for Mula Bandha. When I stopped trying so hard and just focused on building energy, and bringing awareness to the area of Mula Bandha is when I started to understand and actually feel changes in my practice. Just like everything, when you LET GO things COME TOGETHER!
Where does Mula Bandha reside?
Does this help?
Didn’t think so!
This one is even MORE confusing ↓
↑I don’t know if these are supposed to be my boobs or my tonsils?
Richard freeman’s says:
If you exhale very fully and smoothly, you’ll notice that the end of exhalation creates a natural toning in the pelvic floor muscles that allows you to get the last of the breath out. This is the point where Mula Bandha is set. It’s really complex but really simple. Once you get it, it’s like, Of course!
Tim Miller says:
For all the confusion about what it is and how to do it, he says, even the greenest beginners may find themselves practicing Mula Bandha —and not even know it. “Mula Bandha is, in a sense, hard-wired into the poses, and as you do them you’ll discover you’re doing Mula Bandha, unwittingly sometimes. It just happens. (source)
Michael Stone explains why squeezing too hard is not good:
- Squeezing can create tension in the nervous system.
- Women who squeeze tight at the pelvic floor can stop menstruating (not a good thing).
- If you squeeze the pelvic floor, it pulls on the respiratory diaphragm and then you can’t breathe properly.
He goes on to say:
What Mula Bandha is is the bond between the Citta (mind) and the feeling patterns of the breath. When you finish an exhale, there is a natural toning at the center of the pelvic floor. When you inhale, the center of the pelvic floor starts to lift slightly. When you bring your attention to the pause at the end of your exhale, that is Mula Bandha (source)
So, let’s give it a try:
1. Sit in a cross legged position as if you were meditating
2. Just start to create breath as if do during your practice (see here)
3. Get to a point of steady breath, and bring the awareness to your pelvic region
4. Picture the pelvic floor as a triangle (see diagram to the left), and the end of your exhale clasps the triangle! You should feel your belly suck in slightly.
5. Keeping the belly in, inhale, picture the pelvic floor (the triangle) lifting and moving upwards. Kind of like Tetris in the belly!
Recap: At the pause right at the end of the exhale, picture your pelvic floor being grasped as your belly sucks in, and on your inhale, keep the belly in and picture that triangle lifting. It’s all very subtle, and may still sound confusing, but don’t concentrate too hard on this. As you move through practice and postures, keep bringing the concentration and focus on the feeling at the end of the exhale, and the lifting at the inhale. If you lose focus, no problem, bring it back. Over time, the awareness will grow and you’ll be flying through practice in no time!
In a workshop I attended with Tim Feldmann, he said that in some postures, Mula Bandha is engaged more, and some less. You’re always engaging it, but you make the decision on how intense the engagement has to be in each posture.
So, let go of obsessively trying to find and pinpoint Mula Bandha, and just focus on breathing, and as time goes on, Mula Bandha will find you!