21 Nov DAY 13: don’t let escape your vital energy. (The three bandhas)
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 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.
These are the three bandhas:
1.- MULA BANDHA
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.
2.- UDDIYANA BANDHA
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 plexus. The 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 illness. This bandha is the panacea of a lot of abdominal and stomach pains, including constipation and digestion. Also 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.
3.- JALANDHARA 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.