DAY 13: don’t let escape your vital energy. (The three bandhas)

16 of July 2013 – day 13
In the morning we met Jean Mazzei, the training program director.
I think, in reality, you will never know Jean Mazzei. While I was writing this article, I discover that she is not only a yoga teacher, she is also a folk and jazz singer, leader of a rock-band: the Flying Venus. And the group has four discs in the market. Don’t miss this video, if you want to know a little more about this woman.
Jean Mazzei

Jean Mazzei

Jean left us an unforgettable message. She told us, for example: ” learning is like jazz, you get it, then you change it”. Only a great teacher can talks in this way: Jean does not pretend to teach her way to practice or her way to see life,and create clones students that bring her name tattoo in their forehead. Her style is very different: she is an inspiration, she invites you to think. That’s why she says once you learn what she teaches you, then you can do it by yourself, give to it your fingerprints.

Another of her suggestions “ love yourself, trust yourself“, also here you can see her total respect to the individuality of her students, her anti- dogmatism.

Jean also talks about bandhas.

I remember my first yoga class, in prehistoric time, when sometimes I can hear some teachers say “don’t forget to practice the mula bandha during the posture”. And, I thought “ I will do it with pleasure if I could know what the hell is it“. But I was just working on my concentration. I hope you will not have this experience in your next yoga class, after reading this article.

The word bandha comes from Sanskrit and it means ” to lock, to close or to tighten”. It is known as bandha the voluntary contraction of some muscles to prevent the escape of the body energy and create a circle trough the right channel.

You have three bandhas in the yoga practice. It says that each one of them has the ability to modify the circulation of the blood, the nervous pressure, the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid, to move the internal organs of the pelvis and the abdominal part of the body.
The three bandha.

The three bandhas.

These are the three bandhas:
Mula means root. You have to contract the muscles of your genital area, around the perineum. It is a contraction of the anal muscles, perianal and umbilical. From my experience I can tell you it’s not easy and requires a lot of practice. If you had pregnancy, you know what are kegel exercises, the mula bandha is very similar.

Uddiyana is a Sanskrit word means “ to fly up or to rise up“. It refers to pull up your diaphragm to your chest while you’re doing this contraction. This closing is done, in a normal practice, after a full exhalation with the lungs complete empty. You have to pressure your abdomen inside and up.
The abdominal contraction compress the digestive organs, the adrenal glands, kidney and the most important: the solar plexusThe solar plexus is very important to distribute energy to all your body. Uddiyana bandha tonify the sympathetic nervous system, so it avoids the effects of stress and anxiety in psychosomatic illnessThis bandha is the panacea of a lot of abdominal and stomach pains, including constipation and digestionAlso the adrenal glands are balanced and that helps to eliminate anxiety, tension and lethargy. It, also, improves the blood circulation around the body trunk and strengthen the internal organs.
If you need also an esthetic reason to practice uddiyana bandha, here it is: the fat around the stomach area disappear. The body becomes active. Uddiyana bandha is one of the best exercise for the abdominal muscles.
Uddiyana bandha

Uddiyana bandha

Jalan, in Sanskrit, means net and it refers to the net of nerves and blood vessels that are around the neck and throat. It also known as the throat block. You have to drop your head while you lift up your chest so your chin is connected with the chest. One of his benefits is the stretch of your neck. It has fine effects to the pituitary and pineal gland, while the front bend affects thyroid,parathyroid and the immune system.
It activates the metabolism as well.
Jalandhara bandha, also, compresses the carotid sinus, that are situated in the carotid artery, one of the principal artery in the neck. These sinus help to regulate the circulatory and breathing system. When the sympathetic tone,depression,stress, anxiety and anger are reduced, you obtain a feeling of resting, relaxing and general wellness.

Anyway you have to count that these techniques aren’t easy and you can have important contraindications (for example uddiyana bandha cannot be done if you are pregnant).
In this article I am not intending to teach you how to do it correctly, I am only giving you some information about them.
If you want to practice in a safe way, you have to go to a yoga class and ask your teacher to show and teach you uddiyana bandha.



Everyone knows that yoga improves body and mind. But until recently, no one could say certain why,or also how it improves different conditions, like depression, anxiety,diabetes, chronic pain and epilepsy. We knew it worked, but we could not explain how.

Now a group of researchers of the Medical School of Boston University think they have discovered the secret of yoga.
In a article, published in the May 2012 of the magazine Medical Hypothesis, Chris Streeter, PhD and his team express the theory that yoga works settling the nervous system. And how does it do it? It improves the vagal tone or the body’s capacity to answer to stress with success.
(The study: the effects of yoga on the heart independent nervous system, gamma- aminobutyric acid and allostasis in epilepsy, depression and disorder in post traumatic stress).


The majority of us does not know that we have a “vagus” that needs to be toned up. The vagus nerve, the biggest cranial nerve in the body, start at the base of the cranium and goes through all the body, influencing the breathing system, the digestive system and the nervous systemIt is often called our aerial traffic controller. The vagus nerve helps to regulate all our body functions. Our breathing, our cardiac rhythm, digestion and our capacity of taking, processing and giving meanings to our experiences are all connected with the vagus nerve.

Vagus nerves and its branches.

Vagus nerves and its branches.

We know when the vagus nerve is toned up and is working in the right way because our digestion improves, our cardiac functions optimize and our moods stabilize. It results for us easier to pass from an energetic mood with high stress to more relaxed mood. While we working on this, we can manage the life’s challenges with the right mix of energy, relax and agreement. When we are able to keep constantly this flexible state it is said that we have a high vagal tone.

On the other way a low vagal tone brings with it a feeling of tiredness , our digestion slows down, our cardiac frequency increases, our mood becomes unpredictable and difficult to manage. It is not strange that a low vagal tone is connected with illness like depression,disorders of post traumatic stress, chronic pain and epilepsy. And it is not a causality that the same illness show a significant improve with the yoga practice.

The researchers think that is the stimulation of the vagal tone through the yoga practice that improves these conditions.


How does Yoga work? Researches say by affecting positively the vagus nerve.

To confirm their theory the researchers studied the practices that in their opinion improve the vagal tone. For example, they find the breathing control techniques, like the Ujjayi pranayama improves the relaxing answer, like the fluidity of the cardiac frequency. A pilot search on yogis with more experience, shows that sing the OM out loud increase the vagal tone more than sing internally to yourself.
Research like this starts to show how various yoga practice affects the human physiology in different ways.

Once again, Western science meets Eastern wisdom.



Translation into English by Tania Alicia Piovan and Noelia Insa.

Yoga is not a religion

The other night, while i was having dinner with my family, I said that I will write an article, in my blog, about the chakras( and it will be the next article). The answer of my stepdaughter, Giulia, was a revelation ” I am interesting only on the physical part of the yoga”. She is only 22 and she just started to practice, and, like her, a lot of people, young and not young are not interested on the spiritual part of yoga. Even me, 
when I started yoga for first time, I was not aware of what there is behind asanas, I was not aware about the philosophy of life behind yoga practice. So I decided to let my post about the energetic body for later.

The good thing of yoga is that is not a religion, is not dogmatic or authoritarian: you can take what you’re interested of and no one is gonna judge you or condemn you. If you are only interested on the simple physical exercise, you don’t have to go further. No one is gonna force you to become vegetarian, to read the ancient texts of philosophy, or to believe on the power of mantras,or even to meditate. It is possible that some teachers suggest you these practices or even introduce you in the practice of these things. But there is not command in yoga. Luckily, YOGA IS NOT A RELIGION.
For sure you can find yoga in some religion, but yoga itself is not a religion. I mean that some religion include yoga, but yoga does not include any religion.
One person could be complete agnostic, but practice his asanas every day. In the same way could do the yoga practice a catholic, a Muslim, a Jewish, a Buddhist and an Hindu.
Buddhism and Hinduism have a lot in common with yoga, they came from the same spiritual tradition of the far East. But I insist to say that are two different things


– there is not a divinity to adore.
– The practitioner doesn’t have to go to any religious service.
– There are not any sacred images or pictures.
– You don’t have to believe unconditionally. 
– You don’t have rituals.
– There are not priests.
– There is not a global leader.
– There is not a political institution.
– You don’t need any particular rituals to start your yoga practice.
– There are not temples or sacred places.
– It doesn’t requires faith.

And this last thing is the best one, because, even if you only practice the asanas as physical practice, you will still enjoy the benefits of it.
I mean you don’t need to believe . In this case you don’t need to have faith to save yourself, what you need is only a constant and a right practice to have all the benefits and the goodness that yoga can give us. It has similarity with hypnotherapy. I remember few years ago I invited my partner to an hypnotherapy session to stop to smoke. He was very skeptical. The hypnotherapist said to us ” it doesn’t matter at all, even if you don’t believe that is possible, you’ll stop to smoke anyway” and there it was, this happened three years ago and from that moment he never start to smoke again. Magic? It is possible, if we want to include under that name all the things that science cannot explain.

Translation by: Tania Alicia Piovan