What Are Bandhas?
“Why does one want to engage these locks?” you might ask. The answer is simple: to redirect the flow of energy within the body, of course. This is usually where yoga teachers lose some people.
The Importance of Bandhas
Bandhas play an important role on both the physical and spiritual level.
Physically, engaging bandhas during yoga practice offers support during movement within and between individual postures. I tend to think of bandhas as organic jock straps embedded at vital crossroads throughout the body that act as traffic lights during high energy-traffic times.
Accessing them can be as simple as pulling your chin in towards the neck to activate the jalandara bandha, or pulling your belly button up and in to support the lower back and engage the uddiyana bandha.
It can also be as subtle as energetically lifting the space three inches above your perineum without actually engaging anything, to tap into the mula bandha, aka root lock.
I’ll admit, that last one is a tricky one at first. Nobody said this yoga thing was easy all the time.
Bandhas and Your Body’s Flow of Energy
The second important role of the bandhas: directing the flow of energy within the body.
One incredibly simplified way of understanding this is to imagine the inside of your body as a video game, with two lines of energy running through you—Prana, the energy flowing IN, and Apana, the energy flowing OUT.
Through the practice of asana (movement), meditation (mindfulness), and pranayama (breath), one learns to tap into and direct the flow of energy in various directions for various purposes.
Bandhas create a container within the body to make the most out of this energy.
So, yes…Yoga basically taps funky mutant superpower energy in order to do some pretty amazing things. A good relationship with your bandhas will help to keep you balanced, supported from the inside, and connected to your practice.