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An Energy Approach to Hatha Yoga Asana Practice


Introduction

It is joyous,

it has its own enthusiasm,

it is unforced,

it is empowering and self effulgent,

and it is of light --prakash .

With awareness,

sensitivity,

and sincere devotion

I let the inner wisdom guide me.

I surrender to the healing light and wisdom within me.

It is thus not forceful. It is not based on individual will, intellect, or the other qualities of manas
(the dualistic lower functions of the mind), nor does it feed duality, ego, pride, comparative self
worth, the idea of self accomplishment, ambition, competition, or the other more common
pitfalls which lead to the opposite of yoga (union) and light (prakash).

Thus one distinguishes between the two extreme approaches to hatha yoga asana practice;
i.e., willful and forced on one hand, and on the other hand, a joyous embrace of an effulgent
inner directed self activated communion/engagement which through its inherent self existing
great intelligence is allowed to synchronize the ha (sun) with the tha (moon) energies. Most
modern practices may exist somewhere in-between, but it may help some people to utilize this
model to better see how they may create more enthusiasm in their own personal practice.

The concept of holding the pose for long durations is often part of the forceful goal oriented
belief system, when it is the result of will power and inner strife (a symptom of striving for
control or "more"). Such is common in a culture which has produced modern day "control
freaks" and a habitual state of scarcity, lack, and absence of the sacred. As such many people
have become conditioned to not trust their bodies, instinct, intuition, inner wisdom, or nature in
general. Those who adjoin to this belief, often advocate "disciplining the body" as if the
bodymind were two, at war, at odds, or the body inferior and the mind superior. Such a belief
reinforces the body/mind split as well as the spirit/nature disconnect, but functional hatha
yoga attempts to deprogram that fixation by integrating the bodymind inherent synergistic
oneness. In the mechanical will power oriented belief system, the longer one holds a pose, the
better is the control and sense of ego/prideful achievement.

This aberration can be easily observed in many modern yoga classes which appeal to the error of
separate self, lack, scarcity, possessiveness -- in short the false identification with the limited self
(ego). Chronically such people seek comparative advantage or otherwise suffer from lack of self
worth, low self esteem, and other diseases which result from their disconnect from wholeness.
The question is thus raised, rather in attempting to reach these people does the so called yoga
teacher reinforce "the reality" of this split from union, or on the other hand does the yoga teacher
functionally attempt to heal its rend amplifying the non-dual truth of yoga? Catering to manas
(the ordinary fragmented and dualistic mind made up of will power, intellect, and ego) is a very
different approach from amplifying wisdom, light, and union which comes from the
transpersonal innate wisdom (prajna or vijnana) or the higher/larger Mind.

In mechanical approaches people may experience the impulse to move out of a pose out of
unconsciousness (tamas), boredom, deadness, disinterest, or discomfort. Then in this mechanical
willful framework, the teacher may advocate “work harder” or “use more force” but that
approach can lead to injury and a thus produce an even greater association with the pain body
(versus the light body). All of which are simply indicators that the entire practice lacks bhava,
loving intention, or wisdom.

Boredom and mechanical approaches are evidence of a disconnect—a closing off of the nadis
(psychic channels). An obstruction of the natural healthy flow of prana, the intensity, the union,
and the positive flow of that yoga is supposed to effect. If one does exercises mechanically or in
boredom it isn't yoga as described in the yoga tradition. To eliminate this, one must become
more sensitive to the life energy calling out for affirmation/acknowledgement -- to be. Our
practice must be to honor and respect it.

Even the term "hold" augments a dualistic framework and adds to the idea of rigidity. I suggest
that the duration of the pose not be governed only when the prana or the breath starts to run
out, or when the juices dry up, but rather as a passionate search for prana, shakti, as a bhakti
practice where one is actively seeking, communing, and integrating consciously with the
greater whole. In that sense it is more of a release of rigidity, of striving, and of a goal oriented
future object; and hence a let go, an acceptance of the innate pre-prescient eternal NOW, a
surrender, isvara pranidhana, and a delirious ecstatic dance that occurs in sacred presence.

Thus a functional hatha yoga teacher emphasizes the love, devotion (bhakti), energy, and joy
of the practice as the foremost vector that teaches. When it is brought into our practice, then it
teaches by itself as it has awesome powerful innate intelligence.
Difficulty In Creating a Personal Practice

People in that situation often have difficulty in creating their own personal practice. One reason
is because they are not used to residing inside their own innate authority/empowerment, but
rather have become dependent upon an external system (of intellect and willpower of which is
owned by the teacher or the teacher’s tradition or some other outside external authoritarian
system). The second reason why personal practice fails is related to this first reason. What is
called boredom is really a disconnect from direct meaning, a blockage of the nadis. It is a
statement of the deadness or absence of divine passion and energy.

In mechanical object oriented (read future/goal oriented) practices the Sacred Eternal NOW is
sacrificed, and along with it one abandons the feeling of being well, wholeness, presence, and
connectedness. This is where a functional yoga practice can help us re-establish these deep,
primal, and innate connections between the mind and body, between crown and root, between
spirit and nature, pingala and ida, or siva/shakti which is the non-dual and transpersonal
synergistic synchronicity and unity which functional hatha yoga bequeaths.

Here one does not simply relinquish strife, holding, forcing, or individual will power, but rather
affirms harmony, strength, peace, and a deepening sense of well being. Here one does not only
simply hold the pose until the strength, energy, breath, or ability runs out or becomes fatigued,
but rather HERE one abides in communion with the pose as the sacred vehicle synchronized as
the inner mandala – as a yantra in synch with all of Reality – aligned with the entire cosmos.
Here one does not attempt to overcome or transcend their feelings but rather become more in
touch with them. HERE one becomes accustomed through functional hatha yoga practice to be
present, not by doing, but by listening, by being attentive to the transpersonal and intelligent
evolutionary life energy present within our own body as it is in all of nature – as All our
Relations. This way a gradual deprogramming (of the conditioned pain body) is achieved simply
by creating “space” for that inner dance to unfold – and by trusting that innate wisdom – that
great intelligence to lead us.

How it Works: Aligning up with Siva/Shakti

So very simply at first one can utilize the breath as an indicator of the prana and energy body.
Consistent practice will create inner awareness and with that will reveal the workings of the
energy body and the wisdom body. So at first the movements depend on listening more than
“doing”. Listening and feeling what the breath tells me and then moving in harmony with that.
The breath is an indicator of the energy. The receptivity is an essential element in awareness or
consciousness. So then eventually this movement directed by the breath awareness, turns into
movement directed by energy awareness. We are learning an energy dance.

In Sanskrit this is called utilizing the cit-prana or cit-shakti where cit is consciousness and prana
or shakti is the energy or activity that is married to consciousness. Here we see that the entire
body is conscious. Intelligent, and made up of energy. Here also we will find that disease is
where the consciousness and energy is blocked, deadened or distorted (out of balance). The
poses move us into these areas of the body and reveal to us where the energy and consciousness
is blocked/diseased and thus we are consciously able to move the energy, re-align, reintegrate,
and make positive change. Simply put the asana session is a search and destroy mission,
searching out the pain, disease, blocked energy, obstructions, deadness, darkness poisons, and
pain and releasing it. Thus yoga creates lightness (prakash). Simply we go inside and listen to
the breath – to the energy and use that as the rudder that moves in synch with that greater
whole – as an activity of active wholeness – as an act of kriya shakti.— an activity of
kundalini shakti, the evolutionary energy inherent in all life.

This is thus a very conscious practice, but at the same time it is not willful. As we become more
receptive and listen more we sometimes move into a dead/blocked area. When cit-prana is
allowed to irrigate that area, the stress, tension, dis-ease, and pain in that area is released.
The blockage in the nadis decrease, and the overall energy flow increases. Gradually over time
our nadis become more accustomed to holding a greater love/wisdom and healing energy charge.
We thus act as light channels for this love energy increasingly in daily life as we become more
capable of holding this energy charge or rather knowing how to align a, connect up, and
recharge.

Pain, Resistance, and Emotional Pain in Authentic Practice

Sometimes when we move into a pre-existing blockage, dead, and/or painful spot, we will
feel resistance. It may be experienced as fear or feel uncomfortable emotionally like an old scar,
wound, embarrassment, shame, guilt, trauma and feelings of disgust, sadness, anger, resentment,
hatred, jealousy, shame, lust, or such might arise. This is actually good as it is an indicator that
an old samskara (past trauma which has become imprinted on a cellular level as well
neurologically is being woken up/activated and asking to be recognized and released. This
discovery of a pre-existing armoring, contraction, or deadness should be distinguished from
creating new stress, pain or harm. Here attention, and focus to this resistance is called for. It
often is the result of a pre-existing unresolved trauma where one was overwhelmed and became
numb. Here one releases the numbness, withdrawal, and dissociation with the painful imprint or
memory which has become transferred into and is reflected by this visceral/neurological reflex
component in a physical area filling it with consciousness and prana (cit-prana) with life. Here
one could use any one of many breathing techniques that breathe a white light and
consciousness into the area creating space for the surrounding area to dance, sing, and
reconnect. One could visualize the light coming in from the crown chakra with the breath and
focus it into any such area or feeling flushing it of any pain or deadness.

Likewise these energy techniques utilizing awareness and the cit-prana may be useful in
any other circumstances where stubborn area is stuck, where the vibrations and energy of
the area is slowed down or dense, where there is tension, contraction, tightness, armoring,
stress, disease, confusion, or strife.

As the energy body expands and become activated the outward gross corrupting propensities no
longer are fed and as such authentic and natural hatha yoga when combined with authentic
meditation practices yields positive results.
The Physical Body (sthula sharira), Light and Energy Body
(sukshma sharira), and Wisdom or Causal Body (karana
sharira)

In relationship to the three kayas and the Five Sheaths (koshas) this relationship can be broken
down into:

1) The manifestation body, the gross body, sthula sharira, annamaya kosha, and nirmana
kaya vehicle of the Buddhas). Basically this is what the 5 senses observe as objects of the
mind.

2) The energy body, the subtle body, the light body of form, sukshma sharira, the
pranamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, vijnanamaya kosha (wisdom or light sheath), and the
sambhogakaya vehicle of the Buddhas. This includes the entire ream of form

3) The Universal Soul Body, Divine Body, God's Body, the anandamaya kosha, the causal
body (karana sharira), vajra body, rainbow light body, the seed body, diamond heart, and
the Dharmakaya vehicle of the Buddhas. Herein we will place the Divine Body, the
Hiranyagarbha kosha, the Golden seed body, the tathagatagarbha the womb of all Buddha.

Through authentic hatha yoga practice with the physical body (sthula sharira) , the energy or
subtle body (sukshma sharira) is discovered. Through more hatha yoga practice this subtle body
is energized more fully integrating the energetic patterns of the body, the mind and emotions
(manas), and eventually producing light and wisdom (vijnana).

By utilizing this increased energy body awareness, both the physical body, mental, and
emotional bodies are re-aligned and healed. By fully understanding the energy body all veils
existing within the subtle realm of form itself can be dissolved and hence the wisdom body or
body of clear light which is formless is realized (the vijnanamaya kosha is purified).

Here one breaks through anandamaya kosha (kosha means sheath) where the causal body (non-
dual transpersonal universal soul resides (the karana sharira). This universal soul body which
contains all and nothing can be said to have two aspects formless and with form. The formless
eternal aspect is reached via the hiranyagarbha kosha (the Golden seed body). It is the
tathagatagarbha; the womb of all Buddhas and the seed potential of our innate buddha nature; it
is the param purusha; isvara; mahesvara (siva as pure consciousness), pure spirit.

It’s form nature is the All and Everything, shakti, sacred world of tantra, the divine creatrix, or
mother nature. In the Integrity of Reality these two form and formlessness, spirit and nature is
permeated with pure consciousness and energy everywhere. Here siva and shakti are one. Only
where this integrity is obscured denied, can we say that God or love doesn't’t exist.

The point here is that hatha yoga practice discloses these innate inter-relationships (call them by
other names if one wishes). It opens up and reveals the conscious energetic pathways between all
of nature, the physical body, the breath, the vital energy, the mind, emotions, instinct, intuition,
nervous system, wisdom, divine intelligence, and beginningless Source. Hatha yoga is not an end
in itself, but rather a practice that leads to the end of striving in the end.

For more detail visit:

http://www.rainbowbody.com/newarticles/energybody.htm

My History

I began my study of yoga in 1965 via studying the Yoga Sutras, Eastern philosophy, and other
mostly philosophical pursuits at the University level at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
In 1966 I met Haridas Chaudhuri, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, who introduced me to
Aurobindo’s works and much more. I pursued study (jnana yoga) alongside a rather inconsistent
meditation practice until I found hatha yoga in 1971. In that same year I met Swami
Satchidananda, Dr. Mishra (Sri Brahmananda, Lama Tarthang Tulku, Hari Das Baba,
and Lama Kunga Thartse Tulku. Asana practice was a great turning point for me as it
awakens the inner teacher and restored my faith in nature and life. Since then my practice has
accelerated greatly and has been consistent and “Self” motivated. I started teaching hatha yoga in
1972 both in Nepal and in the US.

The natural spontaneous type of hatha yoga was called by Swami Kripaluananda, sahaj yoga. I
studied with Yogeshwar Muni, a student of Swami Kripaluananda, and taught at his Berkeley
centers. There the poses were taught by Babuji or rather by shakti herself, where I was simply
the hands and feet of Shakti -- to be moved by her Grace; where the very idea of a dualistic
practitioner governing the motion of the physical body was antithetical to the teaching (if not
reinforcing a dangerous delusion of separate self or ego).

Amrit Desai tried to teach a similar spontaneous flow method (it is not easy to teach he found) at
the Kripalu Centers on the East Coast. At that time he eventually decided that most people were
not ready for it, so then the hatha yoga practice at Kripalu became so “modified”. Just another
"way" to God perhaps? Many ways exist.

Shakti is found inside all living beings. It is self existent and always present, so why not get it
directly or at least use your time and energy wisely in a practice that moves us to more directly
connect, commune, integrate and participate as love in creation – creating love! In this sense
practice is less than effortless – it is uplifting, empowering, healing, and pure joy!

JAI MA!

The Energy Body, the Five Koshas, and Three Kayas

Chakra Purification Meditation

Chakra and Energy Body Healing


Swara Yoga: Utilizing the Energy Valves at the Nares (swaras) as a Liberation technique

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras; Pada III (Vibhuti Pada), Sutras III.41-46. Also see III.31 commentary on
the Kurma Nadi

"Nature's Finer Forces and the Science of Breath (Pranayama Yoga)" was originally published
in Sanskrit as "Science of the Breath and the Philosophy of the Tatwas"), by Rama Prasad, is
available here in PDF format,

Swara Yoga (according to the Bihar School of Yoga). Much excellent data about Swara Yoga at
http://www.swarayoga.org

Bhuta Shuddhi (presented by Swami Rama)

Presentation of Bhuta Shuddhi by Swami Satyasangananada Saraswati

The Variety of Hatha Yoga Teachings/Teachers: How to Contact Your Inner Teacher

HeartMind Portal Specific to Hatha Yoga Practices

The Authentic Context of Hatha Yoga Practice: An Overview

List of Articles at Rainbowbody

HeartMind Yoga

The Stages of Life: Birth, Youth, Old Age, Sickness and Death

The Long Body: Portal to Earth Based Spirituality (includes "TWO TREES" by W. B. Yeats)

Tree Legends Myths, the Central Column, Chakras, and Wisdom Tails

The Tree of Life/Cabala: as related to the yoga chakra system


http://www.rainbowbody.com/asana/bandha.htm

Hatha Yoga Bandhas

Contents

Introduction

Part One: The Classical Bandhas

Mula Bandha: Muladhara Chakra (Brahma Loka)

Uddiyana Bandha: Manipura Chakra (Vishnu Loka)

Jalandhara Bandha: Vishuddha Chakra (Rudra Loka)

Traya Bandha (maha bandha)

Utilizing the Three Basic Bandhas with the Breath, Pranayama and Advanced Mudra
Practice

Part Two; Adjunctive Bandhas

Jivha Bandha, Khechari Mudra and Talu Chakra

Ajna Bandha

Swadhi Bandha

Nabhi Bandha

Hri Bandha

Conclusion: Paramananda Bandha

Introduction
There are three classic bandhas; mula, uddiyana, and jalandhara bandha. When
practiced together they are called tri-bandha. They are practiced together or
individually at specific times during kriya, asana, pranayama, mudra, visualization,
dharana (concentration), and meditation (dhyana) practice. They also occur
spontaneously especially in children, but also in yogis who allow themselves to be
moved by the evolutionary transformational intelligent force, the kundalini.

When the vital life force is not wasted or dissipated into neurotic compensatory
pursuits of fragmentary existence, but rather remains in synergistic harmony with all
of creation and creator, then friction, imbalance, and effortful force is replaced by the
innate effortless and powerful force aligned with natural law. May that force always
be known, respected, honored, listened to, and guide our way. It would be a very rare
human being who has no outward flows (in these areas where the bandhas are
configured by one's innate wholesomeness wholistically), therefore they would not
need to practice hatha yoga bandhas, or if they did, there would be little effect.

What the Bandhas do

Bandhas thus direct the energy flow (prana) inside the body so that blockages of
dammed up and repressed energy are alleviated, areas starved of prana are nourished,
and the life force energy (prana) which leak out because of dissipative habits are
harmonized, activated, and integrated. Bandhas thus bound/bind back the dissipative
energy and as such they are the embodied aspect of pratyhara (restraining the
dissipating outward flow of prana while bringing it back to be redistributed from the
core center in order to achieve union and harmony (in the core center). At first
bandhas are learned as a coarse physical procedure utilizing muscles and physical
movement. Eventually the yogi becomes aware of the underlying neurophysiological,
mental, and energetic patterns behind the physical, hence the bandhas are effected by
awareness and mental alertness in the intermediate state. Eventually they are
effected spontaneously and naturally (sahaj) and continuously (not only in
daytime sadhana, but in sleep) -- in All Our Relations).

The underlying fifth limb in ashtanga yoga, pratyhara in turn acts similarly as a
powerful vehicle for tapas (increasing the spiritual fire) and is its energetic counterpart
(energy patterns) as our energy patterns are no longer dissipated nor distracted into
dualistic externalizations or pursuits (mentally, physically, or energetically). As such,
pratyhara is the general operating principle while the specific bandhas work at specific
energy circuits. It is cogent that pratyhara is not merely the withdrawal of the senses
from the sense objects, but the withdrawal from dualistic subject/object foolishness.
One aspect of pratyhara and bandhas may look like a withdrawal, but the complete
bandha and pratyhara manifests as a re-direction from the true nature of mind, the
Divine purusa where we become instruments (hands fet, and all the organs) of the
infinite fountainhead of love and delight. The activation of the bandhas which will be
shown later, not only affect the body and the energy, but thus also the mind and
spiritual centers because the mind rides on the horse of wind (prana), just as the winds
(prana) are affected by the mind. Hence through the bandhas as an integrated practice,
the yogi learns how the mind affects the body and prana, as well as how the body and
pranic circuits affect the mind. Philosophers might be skeptical the the latter
statement, but it is common knowledge that being drunk, taking drugs, not having
good sleep, food, lack of exercise, and organic disease most often negatively affect the
normal person's mental and/o emotional ablatives and function. So too do positive
physical activities positively affect the mind, mental abilities, and emotions.

The practice of pratyhara thus reverses the outward flow of mind that is often sucked
into illusory world patterns where the data from the senses misinterpret the true
meaning of their "objects" -- where objects appear dualistically as separate from self,
i.e., the limited egoic world of I and it. Because the mind cannot move without prana,
bandhas are utilized to efficiently and quickly reverse the outward flow while
activating inner evolutionary flow and thus bandhas (wisely applied) have the ability
to quickly establish the objectless meditative state and inner supportive energy flows
necessary to create synchrony with natural evolution and thus propel the yogi into
turiya or samadhi.

Bandhas are the internal energy valves which thus when activated allow the energy to
flow through the area activating the dormant potential of spirit while embodied.
another way of saying this is that the rigidity of a chronic spiritual disconnect can be
disrupted through bandhas, pranayama, and pratyhara quickly providing the pathway
for the spiritual reconnect. Although commonly called locks, bandhas act as such only
in so far that they prevent the outward flow (dissipation) of the energy, but a better
translation would be valves because they direct the internal energy flow to irrigate the
nadis and activate the energy body. The reason why we will try to avoid the
translation of bandha as "lock", is because it reinforces the forceful approach where
injury or disease is more likely to occur. For example instead of approaching bandhas
as containing, locking in, or damming up the internal energy, it may be wiser to
approach it as moving energy through -- irrigating the thirsty soil or opening up
obstructed veins, channels (nadis), and circuits (chakras). Eventually the
implementation of bandha has to be effortless and natural. We assume that this
wisdom is innate,has but simply become obscured, hidden, and forgotten through
many generations of institutionalized ignorance and disempowerment which
distracted human beings from their natural powers and their true relationship with
shiva/shakti. Bandhas used in synergistic conjunction with asana, pranayama, mudra,
visualization (dharana), and meditation (dhyana) practice act as a powerful synergistic
aids.

Just as it easy to view pratyhara or vairaga only in its withdrawal aspect (rather than
as a descent of grace), so too it is more valuable to view the implementation of the
bandhas as much more than a withdrawal, but a redirection of energy which has an
innate intelligence at its ultimate Source. Yogic processes are always moving us
closer in alignment and synchronicity with this Source energy. Thus bandhas activate
and catalyze the healing energy vortexes within the body/mind which have previously
become abandoned or obscured. Bandhas can be implemented consciously through a
conscious hatha, kundalini, or laya yoga practice, but are also often performed
naturally and spontaneously through grace ( as a result of fortuitous action or karma).
Bandhas then can be the spontaneous co-arising intrinsic result of the creative and
evolutionary activity which acts both endogenously as well as throughout all of nature
(see maha ananda bandha at the last section). .

Although at first bandhas are most commonly described in anatomic terms in


relationship to certain body parts, muscles, glands, and organs, bandhas it is far more
valuable to approach them as essentially an internal energy re-configuration,
which in turn creates the template or energy pattern/grid which aligns and
activates a corresponding physical, emotional, psychic, and spiritual constellation
and circuitry. As such it not only restrains or binds/bounds the dissipation of energy
outward or often downward, but rather redirects and provides the feed in a healing and
energizing direction -- tuning and aligning the body/mind with the evolutionary
energy of the back body, energy body, vajra body, light body, or rainbow body
potential -- as a whole system constellation, moving the energy non-dually -
destroying superficiality while bringing the practitioner into deeply meaningful
dharmic coursings

For the average neurotic it will first be a withdrawal from the "external sense world"
and appear to move inward and upward activating and catalyzing the inner alchemical
transformative processes associated with the chakras, the central core channel
sushumna (the central channel), and the core energy (kundalini), so that we may abide
in our natural pure intrinsic state (swarupa). In this respect the bandhas are also
associated with the evolutionary progression through the granthis (knots) and lokas
(spiritual realms) which will be discussed later. This is part of the process of
reclaiming our innate inheritance and power which has become repressed through
many years of negative conditioning. But in order to maintain context and perspective
and to avoid becoming stuck in the preliminary process (where many rules supercede
awareness), it also must be kept in mind that ultimately the energy direction is
neither exclusively inward nor outward, neither just upward nor downward, left or
right, but rather non-dual as in a pulsation (spanda). It is a going out to Source
and flowing back from Source through creation simultaneously. Through witness
(purusa) consciousness we may have perspective to see our actions, our mind streams,
our situation in mindfulness and self awareness, but at the same time even though it is
a broader context of awareness, it is still limited vision. But who is that purusa (silent
witness) who is watching in pure open awareness? Here the terms outer and inner lose
their meaning in universal awareness.

Bandhas, thus bind and redirect the energy from leaking out, but it thus should never
be viewed as a muscle contraction. So here the definition of bandha will be effectively
used in terms of an interlock (to lock in and interconnect inner systems) rather than as
the more common definition of a lock, which carries with it a negative connotation of
locking out, damming up, restraining, constraining, forcing, excluding, repressing, etc.
It thus should be made clear that the bandhas are not physical locks, but energy locks
which connects and harmonizes one's vital energy with the inner constellations, the
outer constellations, and the universal eternal source of all energy. In order to learn
about this activation and harmonization, we have to learn about the subtle energy,
inside, outside, and non-dual unborn Source (the inherent potential energy within all
things). But like asana practice, also in bandha practice we most often must first learn
about the subtle internal energy, by first performing the physical, coarse, and external
aspect (coarse energy). Then later once we become aware of the presence of the
internal and more subtle energetics, we can forgo the coarse, gross, physical learning
tools.

The bandhas are mastered by awareness. This awareness is gained through the
practice of mindfulness and vairagya implemented simultaneously. When the bandhas
are mastered, free flowing progress in realizing the intent behind asana, pranayama,
mudra, and meditation are greatly accelerated with the result allowing us to abide in
the heart of samadhi faster, easier, longer, and more completely. The bandhas are
associated with the three granthis (knots) and as such provide the motive power to
unlock spiritual dimensions or lokas as well (Brahma Loka, Vishnu Loka, and Rudra
Loka or Nirmana Kaya, Sambhoga Kaya, and Dharma Kaya). Thus the three classic
bandhas of mulabandha uddiyana bandha, and jalandhara bandha, can be said to
provide the keys to unlocking these three granthis, respectively.

The following description is coincident with the esoteric tradition of hatha yoga (three
bandhas). Here will be introduced the idea that there are many bandhas, each one
capable of moving the energy upward (or restraining its downward motion) to the next
chakra. When yogis enter sahaj samadhi these bandhas occur naturally and are
mutually synergistic. The mulabandha connects us with the earth energy, grounds us,
moves the earth energy up from the muladhara chakra to the swadhistana (or
otherwise prevent it leaking out the muladhara) while moving the sky and sun energy
down to connect with the earth. A non-dual synergistic co-mingling (or
synchronization) is realized between body and mind, between sky and earth, crown
and root. For the fortunate, duality is destroyed
Likewise swadhi bandha connects the energy from the swadhistana chakra up to the
manipura chakra and down to the muladhara chakra. Uddiyana bandha moves the
energy up to the heart (anahat) chakra and down to the swadhistana connecting these
regions. Hri bandha moves the energy up from the heart to the throat chakra and
down to the manipura. Jalandhara bandha moves the energy up to the third eye from
the vishuddi (throat) chakra and down to the heart (anahata chakra) or air center. The
ajna bandha moves the energy up from the ajna chakra to the crown (sahasrara) and
down to throat (vishuddi).

Swadhi, hri, and ajna bandhas have not been previously detailed in classical hatha
yoga literature as such, but none-the-less their discussion will also be presented. In
one sense there exist a myriad of bandhas in the human body as well as throughout the
universe. In the body minor bandhas can be said to exist at each synapse, cell,
vein, ganglion, organelle, etc. Together they form bioenergetic and biopsychic
circuits. Their synchronistic efficacy need only be explored and experienced by
anyone pursuing authentic hatha yoga sadhana. For most practitioners the bandhas are
most efficacious when practiced from the bottom up, having formed a firm base at the
root (base) chakra – the muladhara first.

Mulabandha: Muladhara Chakra and Brahma


Granthi
The root (mula) lock moves the earth energy up through the muladhara chakra
system connecting above it to the water chakra (swadhistana) and further upward to
beyond the sky, while also serving as the valve connecting sky energy or spirit
below it to the center of the earth. This is more than a non-dual two way street, but
we will not get into the profound hatha yoga alchemical theory in detail here, other
than to present the techniques and general theory.

Mula bandha keeps the energy flowing between the body and the earth in a non-dual
direction (neither only up, nor exclusively down). When the apana (the downward
moving cooling and purifying energy) that normally moves within the ida nadis
(psychic nerve channel) is synchronized with the prana (the upward moving
energizing and activating energy) that normally moves through the pingala nadi
(psychic nerve) then the unification/integration which connects the earth energy of
embodied existence (at the muladhara) with the unborn formless realm of sky (at the
crown of the head) occurs in the sushumna nadi (psychic nerve).
The muladhara chakra is the most important chakra in hatha, kundalini, and tantric
yoga as well as the most mysterious. It is where our dormant potential and animal
power resides and it is from here the kundalini becomes activated and enters into the
central channel (sushumna) connecting with and activating the super-conscious
network for the organism. The lights go on, so to speak! This is not some archaic
myth or fantasy, and should not be ignored nor demeaned, but rather its knowledge is
essential to success in authentic hatha yoga. Mulabandha is designed to keep this
energy flowing in this region. Indeed when the mulabandha is lost, our grounded
feeling of centeredness and vitality is also lost or distorted.

Here it is noteworthy that in yogic literature, the goddess kundalini is pictured as lying
dormant in the muladhara chakra in the form of a serpent coiled three and a half times
around a lingam. The symbol for this chakra is a downward facing triangle
normally, but when the chakra is activated (by an activated kundalini) the
triangle reverses upward pointing!

Mulabandha is used in conjunction with the rest of the bandhas, in asana practice,
pranayama, mudra, pratyhara, dharana, and dhyana practice. It occurs naturally in
samadhi.

Preparation: The best preparation for mulabandha is aswini mudra in order to tone
up the nerves, glands, and muscles of the area. Unlike aswini mudra, the
anus/rectum is not activated/contracted but rather is allowed to follow the lead
direction of the perineum. For the male it is the upward turning (like a triangle) of
the space about one inch above the perineum. The perineal space can actually become
indented, domed, or sucked in and up creating empty space for the front of the pubic
bone and sacrum to move toward each other. It is similar for the female except that
the center of the action occurs higher up near the cervix being drawn up and in.

This is not a pelvic tilt (anterior or posterior rotation of the pelvis) which occurs
between the humerus and pelvis and/or between the trunk and pelvis, but rather
mulabandha occurs deep within the moveable elements and energetic dynamics of the
pelvic girdle itself. It is an energy dynamic more than a muscle movement which
aligns the front of the anus (perineum with the lowest reaches of the spinal cord (the
cauda equina) and then allows the further alignment with the crown chakra. .

It might be sufficient to point out that aswini, vajroli, and sthula basti are only
preparations to get in touch with and move the energy in the pelvic and urogenital
diaphragms (root chakra and water chakra areas). In other words these practices are
only there to help us get in touch with locked and stagnant energy, rigidity, and then
to activate this very important center. In that sense these are kriyas (preparatory
purification exercises).
Hence the actual bandha does not require strength in the pubo-coccygeal muscles
(PC muscles of the famous Kegel exercises), nor does it require strength in the
levator ani muscles. More correctly it requires awareness, conscious relaxation of
the region, the removal of impurities, irritants, toxins, and energy blocks in the
region -- a balanced tonification in the nerves of the area, and a gentle energetic
initiation of a movement in the direction explained in more detail below. In the
latter regard, the coarse, gross, physical, and external practices of aswini mudra,
vajroli mudra, and sthula basti may help at first, but this is so only that we become
aware of the more subtle, less coarse, and inner energy dynamics that are involved --
so that the energy can move through this area unimpeded and that the region is strong
enough to withstand an increased energy flow such as is demanded in kundalini yoga
-- so it is truly balanced, functional, and tonified. In a real sense we are energizing and
strengthening the nadis of the region as well as the neurophysiology, and only
secondarily the organs, muscles, and glands of the region also become energized,
powerful, and capable of vital and healthy support.

Mulabandha occurring above the perineum depends upon the energetic relationship
between the sacrum/tailbone complex and the pubic bone. If we are able to align the
pubic bone with the sacrum/tail bone in every movement (whether sitting, standing,
lying down, or walking) then we would have a stable and vital foundation in which to
develop.

To be more exact it is the area in front of the pubic bone (perineum which is kept in
energetic relationship with cauda equina This area is usually not very conscious and
filled with cit prana in the average person, so besides the preliminary exercises of
aswini mudra and vajroli mudra, take a clean finger and press the area directly
in front of the anus and directly in back of the scrotum or lips of the vagina
inward/upward (after bathing). See that there is no tension or tightness in this region.
Learn to feel and sense this area. From an early age these areas become associated
with being unclean, undiscussed, and unconscious. Later on this same negative
dissociation occurs with the genitals. So here we are also clearing out any childhood
negative programming around the earth or water chakras.

Mulabandha will simultaneously draw the pelvis down from the torso (front) and the
spine (back) while balancing left and right wings of the ileum while the pelvic
diaphragm area is drawn upward. As it was taught to me, the perineal fascia do not
contract but rather relax and are drawn upward. If that area is made stiff,
contracted or hard, it can not be drawn up. Indeed it is so subtle that it is usually
"reached" at first through the practices of aswini and vajroli mudras which are
practiced first in their coarse aspect and later in their subtle/energetic aspects. Thus
the practice naturally goes increasingly from the coarse to the more subtle. When one
is naturally in a great space, mulabandha is entirely spontaneous.

As taught in this way the bandhas are energy valves as much as locks, not muscle
contractions. They are locks in such that they prevent the energy from being
dissipated or distracted at various key energy centers. They are more valves in the
sense that they redirect these energies from being dissipated into activating the inner
circuitries at these centers and breaking up the knots (granthis). As such many hatha
yogis teach the bandhas as the means to breaking through the granthis which in
themselves operate not only in the body/mind/energy fields, but in the more subtle
realms of vijnanamaya (higher transpersonal non-dual wisdom) and anandamaya
koshas (the spiritual reams).

In hatha yoga and pranayama the bandhas should be taught first, being the basis for
the correct positioning of the postures. The bandhas correct the asana, while the
asanas refine the practice of the bandhas. Even though the beginner will have to
approximate their understanding of it, in this way their energy awareness will grow
and injury will be prevented through learning how to acknowledge, respect and honor
prana (vital energy).

As we progress in this awareness or energy wisdom (awareness of the cit-prana), the


more subtle internal energetic forms are naturally integrated and put to use, while their
coarse, gross, and external form are then no longer needed. Some people do not need
to go through the coarse form ( for example through grace, karma, natural propensity
these mudras, bandhas, and kriyas manifest naturally (sahaj). Thus the yoga kriyas can
act as a powerful synergist to break up previous negative programming (samskaras)
imbedded in both the psychic and cellular tissue.

So this is explained in http://www.rainbowbody.net/Purity/Kriya.htm and elsewhere.


The vajroli in the energetic state affects the opening of the swadhistana chakra so that
no energy gets stuck there. It is very valuable that we do not approach vajroli
mudra nor mulabandha (the latter occurs in the muladhara chakra) as muscle
contractions (at least in the West) in order to avoid tension, blockage, stress, or
rigidity. Of course "most" movement involves the activation of some muscles (except
movements that take the advantage of the force of gravity) or relaxation of a previous
tense/spastic muscle. ALL MOVEMENT (isotonic activity) involves a corresponding
relaxation of the holding muscle (called the antagonist muscle). For most of us, it is
this relaxation (and resultant activation of the parasympathetic nervous system)
that is key to mulabandha and vajroli. This allows the energy to flow through
this area, irrigating it with chit-shakti. THEN it no longer feels trapped nor is there
a need for it to flow out and discharge its energy once the charge gets dammed up.
This is what gives us "the lift" in mulabandha (at least in part).
Since we are addressing specifically mulabandha, the two main points to consider
then, are the sacrum/tailbone complex in the posterior of the body and the pubic bone
in the front. Through observation one may notice that most adults move their pelvis
and sacrum all at once i.e., there is no independent motion of the sacrum and pubic
bone from the rest of the pelvis (the innominate bones of the ilea and ischium). Yet
closer anatomical study shows that the healthy sacrum is not fused with the pelvis, but
forms a joint (the SI joint). Also the pubic rami (left and right) forms a joint at the
pubic symphysis. So what happens is that the sacrum/tailbone complex moves down
and forward at the same time the pubic bone moves down and forward. These two
movements toward each other form the subtle SCOOP of mulabandha. More subtly
it is the perineal area moving up as the cauda equina moves down and forward. That
gives us the lift.

More over the two pelvic wings (os coxae) are designed to move independently from
each other. Thus much of the asanas, kriyas, and mudras are designed to break up the
stagnant energy and negative conditioning that unfortunately occurs in the muladhara
region. All together a conscious mulabandha informs our asana, pranayama, mudra,
and dhyana practices.

Here we can identify at least twelve independent muscles in ten muscle groups that
connect at the sacrum and run across the ileum, ischium, the back, to the legs, the
pubis, and to the tailbone. On the posterior surface of the sacrum are attached the
iliocostalis, longissimus, multifidus, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, longus and brevis
rotatores. On the lateral surface of the sacrum, the gluteus maximus attaches, while at
the anterior surface of the sacrum we find the levator ani group, piriformis, and
coccygeus groups. It is valuable to note that the latissimus for example attaches all the
way up into the upper arm. It is not important to break out your anatomy books to see
all the various attachment points, but rather to be able to feel the effects that the
sacral/coccygeal complex has upon the whole body and especially upon the spine.

Mulabandha thus mobilizes the previously stagnant energy and repositions places it
into its rightful energetic and aligned place. The correct application connects the
front and back of the body, the left and right, the ida/pingala -- it aligns the spine as
well. Although the bandhas are ENERGY valves, this is too subtle for most, thus the
energy is first gotten in touch with through the physical form of physical movement.
So if you follow this so far, then you will be utilizing your asana practice to go deeper
inside -- feel the energy and especially to feel the synergistic and mutually electro-
magnetic relationship between the pubic bone and tailbone. This is subtle at first.
If one hasn't experienced it, then of course one may not even entertain its possibility,
but that is how we grow -- entertaining the possibility -- moving from coarse/gross
and outer to the more subtle, energetic and inner. This is very much like pranayama
where the coarse breath leads us to the energy (prana) awareness and then to
communion the implicate integrating intelligence at the Source of this energy.

So too in mulabandha the tailbone and pubic bone no longer move with the rest of the
pelvis but rather form the base of the pelvis and the spine where the physical body
moves around that root foundation. Here the tailbone and sacrum drop at the same
time the pubic symphysis drops down -- they both move toward each other
INDEPENDENTLY of the rest of the ileum and ischium (heresy that this may be).
Here the sacrum moves away from occiput and the entire spine becomes long-- in
traction while at the same time the torso is lifted away from the chest and armpits. We
don't have to know the anatomical terms to know the energy of mulabandha, but yes it
has an anatomical relationship as well. This mulabandha makes backbends,
forward bends, twists, sidebends, contralateral poses, etc. all work in a functional
and energetic alignment, and in turn these poses should make the energy of
mulabandha work -- they are mutually synergistic and thus an energetic partnership
is thus engaged and is able to become fulfilled in the practice -- all of which is self
instructing if one balances and harmonizes these energetics with this awareness in
mind.

In other words Mulabandha should be found in all poses (unless one rounds the
back). When mulabandha occurs there is less effort and more energy so it is not a
contraction. Physically the fascia (pelvic diaphragm) in the perineum lose tension and
hardness and are able to dome upward but rather a lift up creating space for the
tailbone and pubic bone to move inward toward each other. As this diaphragm domes
upward, the sacrum and pubis drops downward to meet the earth (if you are standing).
So there co-exists both an upward motion and a downward motion simultaneously
occurring. Physically the pubic bone and tail bone no longer move glued to the rest of
the pelvis. Freeing up this motion is the subject of much "technique" in the kundalini
and hatha yoga literature.

A practical example of using mulabandha in a backbend, try cobra (bhujangasana).


Laying on your abdomen and front thighs, become conscious of the pubic bone and
sacrum. Do not allow the sacrum to lift toward the lumbar, or at the same time do not
allow the pubic bone to lift toward the armpits. Both the pubic bone and sacrum do
not shift but rather scoop together at the mula (perineum) creating an inner lift,
forming the stable base from which the front and and the back lift from the center.

The dysfunctional tendency is to move one (pubic or tailbone) toward the other
(tailbone or pubis) but "normally" the other bone will move away because the fascia
in the pelvis is frozen and rigid. How can you lift the spine and the torso long off the
mula base without arching or tilting the pelvis? That will make the spine long. That
mutual synergy of the front and the back of the body moving from the center is
the physical implementation of mulabandha. One does not consciously think to
contract any muscles whatsoever in the perineum, but rather allow for the lift,
elongation, and intelligent innate energy to lead.

Similarly in standing forward bend, like uttanasana, bending forward the pubic bone
into the front groin crease toward the sacrum. Simultaneously the sit bones (ischial
tuberosities) rise up toward the sky away from the knees, but also simultaneously the
sacrum/tailbone complex sinks down toward the knees moving in to connect with the
pubic bone giving lengthening the spine and the legs also simultaneously. Here let the
perineum move in and up internally, then draw it posterior toward the cauda equina.

Especially in surya namaskar (sun salutations) mulabandha is joyously "found",


held, searched for -- throughout, maintained, and leads (rather than being "held". Yes,
instead of a tension it is the release of tension -- it is a synergistic feeling -- there is a
lift. Your experience of it will change in time as your energy body changes. For me
the quality of a lift-- lightness -- ease -- effortlessness, balance, strength, and harmony
are experienced. With vajroli there is a qualitatively different experience than with
mulabandha.

Also mulabandha sets the base for the completion of uddiyana bandha, but one can
not say that to do mulabandha one must apply uddiyana bandha first, although it is
true that a good uddiyana bandha improves and completes mulabandha. If one looks at
the motive force of uddiyana bandha to be the expiratory breath, allowing the breath
(or rather the prana) to suck in and lift the belly, then the pelvic diaphragm will lift as
well in mulabandha. So mulabandha and uddiyana bandha are mutually
synergistic, but can say that mulabandha should "always" be first -- it is the
foundation, the root, and the basis. Some people teach that the ENERGY of the
three bandhas should be maintained in all poses, but physically there may not visible
movement.

The conscious use of bandhas as a conscious and joyous benefit can be found in
all asanas -- all the time - standing, on abdomen, on side, on back, sleeping,
twisting, working, etc. -- as part of the practice of communion. The relationship
between the perineum region configured in mulabandha to that of the other parts of
the body such as the lumbar, the spine, the occiput, the shoulders, the armpit chest, the
heart, etc. is an education in itself.

Maybe it is best to say that each bandha completes the other and that they work
synergistically very well simultaneously (see traya bandha below). The energetic
form of these bandhas can occur in antar (inner) or bahya (external) kumbhaka
(stoppage of breath) and/or throughout the day time and dream time practices, while it
is true that the coarse form of uddiyana bandha is performed only upon external
retention of the breath (bahya kumbhaka). Also see Tri-Bandha Below)

Other links are available at http://www.rainbowbody.net/Hathayoga/ , but especially


follow the link at the bottom entitled "Hatha Yoga Cleansing Exercises" and check out
aswini mudra, vajroli mudra, and sthula basti.

Yes, more detail can be given for each pose (there is always MORE in this regard),
but at the same time it is counterproductive to feed the illusion that it is in increasing
specifics that yoga is realized but rather in unification -- in balancing, harmonizing --
dancing and celebrating creation/creator.

Traditionally, mulabandha is practiced selectively and sometimes in combination with


other bandhas at certain stages of pranayama, asana, mudra, meditation, and tantric
practice. Some modern schools recommend a light mulabandha throughout the entire
asana practice. It is one of the three bandhas in tri-bandha (together with uddiyana and
jalandhara bandha), used in most pranayama retention cycles. Classically there exist
many nadis that may have obstructions to be opened, but only three granthis of which
their location is not always agreed upon, but which some hatha/kundalini yoga
schools suggest that the three bandhas serve as their remediation. Here mulabandha
opens up the Brahma Granthi providing knowledge of Brahma Loka.

However at the same time there exist numerous nadis which may be obstructed and of
which most hatha/kundalini schools suggest that one of the major functions of a
functional asana practice with the use of bandhas is to open these up -- remove their
blockages so that the samskaras get cleared out, the distorted energetics cleared away,
and the dormant creative/evolutionary energy circuits become activated moving us
into manifesting our greater creative evolutionary potential.

Procedures:

The area between the tailbone and the pubic bone is brought together in a
healthy trans-integrity or phase of synergistic equilibrium.

In order to tonify this region and get in touch with its energies please see the practice
of aswini mudra in the kriya and shat karma section. The practice of mulabandha is
very different however from aswini mudra. Following is first a discussion on the
practice with hip flexion (anterior tilt of the pelvis). Then we will follow with a
discussion of what mulabandha looks like in hip extension (posterior tilt of the pelvis).
In forward bends occurring at the hip joint (between the pelvis and humerus) the
ASIS (Anterior Superior Iliac Spine) normally tends to tilt forward (anteversion) over
the toward the top of the thighs while the pubic bone tilts downward and backward
(posterior). Thus in normal hip flexion (forward bend at the hip) the sit bones move
back, out, and away from the back of the thighs (the bulk of the hamstrings) -- the sit
bones lifting up off the back of the thighs while the front of the pelvis at the ASIS
moves toward the front of the thighs. Normally the sacrum and tailbone follows the
movement of the pelvis, but in mulabandha the tailbone actually is moved in trans-
integrity toward the pubic bone (as the pubic bone moves toward the tailbone, the
tailbone and sacrum moves toward the pubic bone attempting to meet it) at the
perineal space. Thus one may say that the sacral/coccygeal complex drops down away
from the lumbar toward the pubic bone, creating a narrowing of the space at the
perineum between the tailbone and pubic bone in a healthy dynamic energy vortex.
This movement affects both the pelvic diaphragm and the uro-genital diaphragm.

So for example in downward facing dog, the pubic bone is tucking down, around, and
under as the pelvis tilts forward (in anteversion) while the sit bones raise upward
toward the sky and backwards toward the wall behind, but the sacrum and tailbone do
not move up and back, but come around to meet/welcome the pubis at the perineum.
That is mulabandha in hip flexion.

The only way that this movement can happen is that space is created for it in the
pelvic floor (near the pelvic diaphragm). If that region remains hard and rigid, nothing
can move there, but rather if it is relaxed and softened, then the floor of the pelvic
diaphragm can dome upwards creating more space for the tailbone to move
toward the pubic bone. If it's tight, it won't budge in this way. However when the
perineum domes or lifts upward, the trans-integrity between the two form a stable
base for the spine (which rests on top of the sacrum) and hence the rest of the body.
Connecting to the sacrum are no less than 10 separate muscle groups which attach to
the back, the legs, to the other parts of pelvis (such as the pubic bone, ischium, and
ileum).

Similarly in a backward bend occurring at the hip joint as in hip extension the ASIS
tends to tilt back away from the front of the thighs in retroversion or posterior tilt,
tending to tuck the tailbone and sit bones under, around, and up toward the pubic
bone, but if we allow for the posterior tilt of the sacrum to occur, simultaneously
bring the pubic bone back to meet the tailbone, we have mulabandha. Here the front
of the thighs remain long from the ASIS, but the pubic bone does not raise up toward
the navel as it moves away from the front of the thighs. Here the sacrum does not raise
up toward the lumbar spine even if the pubic bone heads away from the navel, but
rather the sacrum drops as the tailbone attempts to meet the pubic bone.
As in the example above in cobra (bhujangasana) keeping both the pubic bone and the
sacrum long from the head toward the feet, while the feet remain in traction out and
away from the hip socket. Many directions can be given to the body to help effect
mulabandha, but in the end it is an energy lock that can be heart felt and attended to.
Perhaps the main direction would be to allow check in often at the perineal space
(especially in contralateral poses) and then effect flow and balance there. Check in at
the tailbone (coccyx) to see that it the fascia in the area is relaxed and that the bone
can move (it can even move independently from the sacrum). Line up the tailbone
with the spine if you can.

Hints: Let the energy lead the breath, let the breath lift the diaphragm, let the the
energy and breath then suck in and up the abdomen, let the energy and breath then
suck up the perineum.

Benefits: Mulabandha occurs at the bottom axis or central connection point of the
body connecting the front and back, left and right, and bottom with top (through the
connection with the spine). Mulabandha forms the stable support of the entire torso
and spine. It can provide traction on the spine. It forms the stable base for uddiyana
bandha and vajroli mudra as well as the other asanas and is essential to traya bandha,
which in turn is essential to effective pranayama practice. It forms the basis for mudra
and long meditation sits by keeping the energy flowing in that region and taking any
strain off the lumbar and SI joints.

It activates Brahma granthi and allows us to enter Brahma Loka (or Nirmanakaya). It
tonifies, purifies, balances, and energizes, the pelvic and urogenital region (see vajroli
mudra for more specific results at the urogenital diaphragm).

Cautions: If one tends toward constipation, constriction. tightness of the lower


abdomen, hips, pelvis, legs, and lower limbs, then the perineal region may already
be constricted and domed up already too much. Since mulabandha balances the
energy front and back, left/right, ida/pingala and allows flow to occur, sometimes in
order for this activation to occur, the area needs to be relaxed and even drawn down
slightly in order to balance and synchronize the apana (the downward energy) and
prana (upward flowing energy).

Likewise hemorrhoids are a physical symptom caused by a disturbance/distortion or


imbalanced tension of the apana and prana in the muladhara region which in turn may
be aggravated by harsh, spicy, coarse, and irritating foods as well as by harsh, lustful,
and irritating thoughts forming the precursory energetic vectors, which influence the
physical characteristics in the region, as regards to disease or its remediation. So in
this case, mulabandha is applied to alleviate the dis-ease, distress, and ill-feelings in
the muladhara, while increasing flow, well being, ease, balance, harmony, and
synchronicity.

Check in often with mulabandha to make sure that the tailbone area is relaxed and the
tailbone is free to move. It IS grounding. Make sure that the perineum does not tighten
and it feels that energy is flowing through this energy valve -- allow it to increase and
support you. After you are able to wag the tailbone and feel it move freely, then check
in with it to see that by aligning it with the rest of the spine, the spine becomes long,
as the tailbone aligns up with the spine, the perineum, the and pubic bone in order to
catalyze synchronization and to prevent distortion. Here both the back body (spine)
and front of the body) are aligned through their mutually synergistic alignment at the
base which is directed by non-dual synchronized energy in the central channel (see
above).

In functional mulabandha the pelvis is neither in classic retroversion or anteversion,


but rather it rests in synergistic synchrony as the sacrum/coccygeal complex and pubic
rami forms a trans-integrity stable base between the pelvis and the back and the pelvis
and the thighs. What really happens is that the area in front of the anus (perineal
space) moves straight upward and is drawn toward the cauda equina. Thus the pelvis
is perfectly balanced and there is no strain in the spine or the groins. Here
mulabandha can occur spontaneously through shakti's grace, yet at the same time we
can consciously utilize it as a means of embracing her.

Uddiyana Bandha: Works on the Manipura


Chakra and Vishnu Granthi
Uddiyana means flying upward energy lock. It is the bandha that moves the energy
upward from the earth, water, and fire centers into the heart (air) chakra strongly
influencing the efficacy of the lower bandhas by "making room" on top. It helps
accomplish the perfection of the rest of the bandhas (see traya bandha below) and thus
accomplishes pratyhara sucking the energy into the middlemost column (sushumna).
It prevents accumulated tensions, toxins, or stagnation to develop or accumulate in the
navel region. Although cleansing, through its power to remove stagnant energy stuck
at the navel center, e it allows stuck or distracted energy to move through this region
into the heart chakra up through the sushumna which is its natural uncorrupted path,
hence it helps to purify and energize not only this region, the organs in the front of the
lower spine, but also the entire body. As it moves energy stuck at the navel center it
connects the energy at the swadhistana chakra (water center), moves it through the
navel, and merges it in the heart. Thus it opens stuck energy and allows it to flow into
the Heart Center (opening the Vishnu Granthi) from below.

Procedure/Technique: To be succinct simply, stand with the feet approximately hip


width apart. Bend the knees slightly and rotate the pelvis forward (anteversion or
also called dog arch). With the hands placed on top of the front thighs above the
knee exhale all the breath out rapidly. Raise the rib cage and then concave the area
below the navel upward and inward back toward the spine. Draw in and up the
lower belly inwards toward the spine allowing the lower back to gently round
while the pelvis spontaneously tucks under (in retroversion of the pelvis). Hold
the breath out, pressing the entire lower belly inward back toward the spine without
rounding the upper back nor hunching the shoulders forward. That is uddiyana
bandha, simple.

Preparation: Although uddiyana means flying upward, this refers to the energy, not
the physical navel point which remains drawn downward and posterior (back
toward the spine). What is drawn up is the very lower belly (especially for those
with belly sag). In a simplified coarse way, uddiyana bandha can at first be described
as the drawing in of the entire navel region into the belly button as the belly
button is drawn in toward the spine. One is best reminded from the very beginning
that the bandha is designed as an energy valve (to prevent dissipation at the navel
center) --as an opening and energization of the fire chakra (manipura). In this latter
sense it withdraws distractive or dissipating energy back into the core thus fueling
spiritual evolution or sadhana.

For best results and especially to first learn its effects, it is at first performed
standing with the feet approximately shoulder width apart or wider (toes facing
forward or only slightly to the side). First take up mula, swadhi, and nabhi bandha if
you know them (described elsewhere) and hold them throughout uddiyana. If you do
not know these other allied bandhas, do not worry. You will do very well at first just
learning uddiyana bandha by itself or uddiyana may spontaneously and synergistically
trigger the other bandhas.

Now take some time to feel (in sensate awareness) four finger widths below the navel.
Connect energetically (the hara or lower tan tien/dan dien) in sensate awareness
consciously and then visualize that area being drawn in toward the spine and
lifted.

1) Bend the knees slightly

2) Tilt the top of the pelvis slightly forward (anterior rotation in dog arch)
3) Place the hands on the top front of the thighs above the knees with the fingers
pointing slightly inward and gently lengthening the torso off the pelvis (this creates
more space in the abdomen) with elbows bent. Allow the top of collarbones to raise
up in front while the medial spine of the scapula sinks toward the sacrum. Do not
hunch the shoulders, collapse the chest, nor round the upper back, but rather let the
sacrum ground (in mulabandha) while creating space in the abdomen and chest
by raising the chest toward the chin (in jalandhara bandha).

4) Rapidly exhale all the breath through the nose.

5) Allow the abdomen to form a hollow concavity sucking the lower belly region in
toward the back leaving a deep concave space between the xiphoid process and
pubic bone. You are creating more space in the belly (between the sternum and the
pelvis).

6) Allow this motion to lengthen the lumbar spine and move the pelvis moves into a
slight cat tilt (retroversion) with the effect of further raising the lower belly inward
and upward. This last phase is accomplished at the pelvis by releasing the dog arch
(anteversion) but it is motivated through the action centered at four finger widths
below the navel (lower dan dien or hara). Allow this motion to enhance the
mulabandha while keeping the chest/chin in jalandhara bandha.

Hold and release before there is any feeling of strain (before the energy starts to
dissipate). The concentration is at the lower dan dien below the navel (closer to the
pubic bone than the bottom of the sternum at the xiphoid process in front). Instead of
sinking the chest, rounding the upper back, or shoulders forward at all, rather raise
the sternum actively up (superior) while the lower ribs remain back in toward
the spine. As the rib cage rises up to the chin in jalandhara bandha, then more space
between the pubic bone and the sternum is created. Hold the breath out as long as
the feeling of emptying and tonification in the abdomen is not compromised or
strained. Find the natural impulse to suck it back and in thus massaging the internal
organs while simultaneously drawing in and lifting up the space above the perineum.
Release the jalandhara bandha and breathe normally. Repeat at least three times.
That is uddiyana bandha.

Detailed Performance: At first learn uddiyana standing. Later one can apply it in
other poses such as lotus etc. So as above while standing, place the feet at shoulder
width or wider. Bending the knees slightly, place the hands on the inside of the lower
thighs above the knees with the fingers pointing slightly inward (medially) and
slightly toward the knees. the elbows are slightly bent. Do not place undue weight on
the hands, arms, or shoulders nor torque the knees or legs, nor round the shoulders,
nor collapse the upper torso or upper back. Rather use the hands to help lift up the
chest creating space in the belly. Let the top medial spine of the scapula sink
away from the ears towards the sacrum as the front top of the ribs and collar
bones raise up and around toward the back. Keep the ribs lifted off the pelvis so
that the space in the abdomen is maximized.

From there place the pelvis in forward rotation (dog arch) which is the anatomic
anteversion position of the pelvis. Find mulabandha by allowing the sacrum and
tailbone to passively drop and establish energetic flow with the pubic bone. Resist any
tendency to round the upper or middle back but rather find the lift of the shoulder
girdle upward toward the chin in front and around downward toward the
sacrum in back. This lifts the ribcage up off the pelvis maximizing the empty space
in the abdomen. Raise the chest to the chin in jalandhara bandha after rapidly
exhaling all the breath outward.

Simultaneously while maintaining the feeling of empty space in the abdomen, allow
the abdomen to concave in front so that the area about four finger widths below
the navel is drawn backward and upward. This initiates the movement. Then
allow the rest of the abdomen to concave and follow. Relax completely the dog arch
(anteversion of the pelvis) by allowing the pelvis to move into a natural cat tilt
(retroversion of the pelvis) as the concavity unfolds. As a result of this slight
retroversion the lower belly in front is further lifted and mulabandha is more greatly
effected as well. Later after one understands mulabandha, then one understands that a
successful mulabandha completes uddiyana bandha and visa versa (a successful
uddiyana bandha completes mulabandha). Eventually one experiences all three
bandhas as more than complementary. Here you will feel the entire abdomen as empty
and spacious.

Work in the Bandha:

Keep the heart and upper chest forward and lifted throughout, yet anchor the lower
ribs back toward the spine. Allow the collar bones to stay lifted and back. This
will create more open space between the sternum and the bottom of the pubic bone in
the abdomen. Implementing jalandhara bandha, creates space in the entire torso by
raising the upper chest upward toward the chin (jalandhara bandha) while using the
arms to help lift the chest while pressing the medial edges of the scapula down toward
the sacrum. This will prevent rounding the upper back and/or collapsing the upper
torso, but rather keep the entire trunk long off the pelvis. Even though the breath
leaves the chest and rib case as the diaphragm is drawn up into the pleural cavity upon
the exhale, the energy of the pose is shaped by keeping the back and torso long,
thus naturally creating the space for the navel to move back and inward toward
the spine binding and concentrating the energy between the navel and the
lumbar spine. Although it is best to start uddiyana in dog arch (anteversion of the
pelvis) allow the pelvis to wiggle back and forth to find the optimal position which
maximizes uddiyana bandha.

Exhaling all the breath out as above, retain the external retention (bahya kumbhaka)
and bring sensate and energetic awareness to the other two bandhas (mulabandha and
jalandhara bandha) in order to increase the energetic effect of uddiyana. Let the
outgoing breath create the space in the abdomen. Allow the navel to be drawn in
toward the lumbar spine naturally and spontaneously by allowing the hardness in the
abdomen to soften. Experiment in this manner kinesthetically exploring the energy of
the bandha, and release before there arises any need to gasp.

Release before any strain and allow the breath to come back to normal. Repeat two
more times from the beginning (above) or check the step by step description given at
the end of this section. Immediately afterwards straighten the knees and let the
arms raise over the head with a slight extension of the hip and back on an
inhalation as a nice counterpose stretch.

Ideally the neck should remain free without compression or strain and the throat
relaxed, keeping the throat, jaw, and eyes, soft and relaxed, the neck long, and the
chin inward in jalandhara bandha. Advanced practitioners should remember to
precede uddiyana bandha with mulabandha and swadhi bandha, then maintain them
throughout. For beginners it will be easier to implement the jalandhara bandha at the
end of the exhalation to further raise the chest off the pelvis creating even more space
in the abdomen, then release jalandhara before the in-breath and release of the
uddiyana bandha. Mulabandha can be held throughout or else released after the
uddiyana is released and the air is inhaled.

Before there is any sensation of stress, tension, or strain felt anywhere, please release
all the bandhas fully, inhale, and straighten the back and scan the body taking
energetic inventory.

Hints and Kinks:

It may be valuable for some to raise the chest up while beginning the
implementation of uddiyana bandha visualizing the prana being sucked up from the
lower chakras (swadhistana and muladhara), through the navel region (manipura
chakra), and up to the heart chakra (anahata). The diaphragm has to get out of the way
so the abdomen can move back toward the spine, so it is allowed to be drawn up into
the pleural cavity expelling the last of the air from the lungs. This is done without
efforting at the diaphragm, rather the diaphragm is lifted up by the energy and space
created by the outgoing breath, through the action of the navel striking back toward
the spine, and the jalandhara bandha. The diaphragm should feel at all times
unstressed and relaxed. This is all accomplished by allowing the muscles at the
center of of the diaphragm to relax and be sucked up while the muscles at the bottom
sides of the diaphragm are allowed to relax (compress) inward. Remember the
diaphragm relaxes on the exhalation.

It is noteworthy that in normal respiration, the diaphragm muscles are


activated/engaged during the normal inhalation process and are relaxed
passively in normal exhalation. However in uddiyana bandha we utilize a
forced/active exhalation forcing the air out of the lungs rapidly through the
above described action at the abdomen (drawing back the navel point as in
kapalabhati or agni sara). note worthy also is that the diaphragm forms a dome
shape on exhalation (the top of the dome is toward the head) while the bottom of
the dome is anchored at the spine and lower ribs. Thus even the lateral edges of
the diaphragm also compress inward toward the core center.

Instead of lifting the organs of the upper abdomen up out of the way, this lift of the
diaphragm created by the energy of the outgoing breath creates the requisite
space in the abdomen that permits the energetic compaction and embrace which
encloses and supports the entire abdominal region. As the navel folds back in
toward the spine the outward dissipation of energy at the fire chakra is bound back for
alchemical internal usage. Even the sides of the abdomen are drawn inward toward the
center. This contributes to the tapas (spiritual energetic effect) or pratyhara of the
bandha.

The Vishnu Granthi (knot) can be broken through in this manner so that Vishnu Loka
is revealed. Here the energy moves up from mula and swadhistana chakras through
manipura chakra, drawn into the heart region, thus the blockages between the water
chakra and the air chakras are remediated. With the change in energy, there is realized
a corresponding change in mental, emotional, and spiritual energetics.

Later one understands that this more subtle energetic relational matrix of the suksma
sharira and the mental matrix are more causal to the physical matrix of the gross body
(sthula sharira) so that this can all be done by the mind, but at first most of us have to
learn this more subtle relationship by working with the coarse body (sthula
sharira)The coarse benefit of the lifting up of the diaphragm upon exhalation
(rechaka) allows the diaphragmatic muscles to fully relax and creates space for the
unobstructed and natural ability for the navel to strike backward toward the spine
forming a natural concavity in the abdomen below the sternum, stomach, liver, and
pancreas. As the diaphragm is relaxed, it then rests and is restored. Then
implementing uddiyana bandha at the end of the inhalation) puraka) an added benefit
then is to move the air and prana into the lungs and heart chakra -- to expand the
heart. Greater still is the mental/spiritual opening of the Vishnu Granthi into the the
Vishnu Loka.

There is no breathing in and out during the classical coarse implementation of


uddiyana bandha, but rather the breath is held out throughout in rechaka kumbhaka
(also called bahya kumbhaka). Try keeping the lower back lengthened between the
iliac crests and the back ribs without tucking the pubic bone up toward the navel. Here
mulabandha keeps both the front and the back long and prevents collapse. The spine
moves toward the navel as much as the navel moves toward the spine. Where they
come together is where the energy of the bandha creates the fire. As the navel area is
drawn inward toward the spine, the lower back is drawn into a retroversion
(backwards tilt of the upper pelvis), but this retroversion of the pelvis is completely
dictated by the motion at the belly. In other words a forced retroversion should not be
implemented.

In the coarse action at first it is best to release jalandhara bandha first, then release
uddiyana bandha before there is any strain so that you do not gasp for breath, cough,
feel strained or out of breath afterward. Any shuddering or palpitations of the heart
means you should stop immediately. Remember we are strengthening and softening
the abdomen region simultaneously, removing tension, and stress. At the same time,
we are activating/stimulating the navel center. We are moving energy. It should be
pleasant and energetic so please start very slowly, kinesthetically, softly, but
energetically. Later when you enjoy it naturally you will want to do it longer and more
often when it is needed.

After the complete exhalation (rechaka) and while holding the external retention
(bahya kumbhaka), more experienced students familiar with the energy of
mulabandha may try making a fake inhalation (go through the muscular motions of
inhaling without actually inhaling) while still in the bahya kumbhaka. This will lift the
diaphragm slightly more, but it is extremely important not to cause stress to the
glottis, the diaphragm region, or lungs. This reverse drawing up on the diaphragm is a
very subtle movement and is best not tried by beginners unless they have an
experienced teacher monitoring. If you have suffered or suffer from hiatal hernia be
very careful with this last instruction or simply forgo such. If you are able to isolate
the diaphragm muscles from the stomach and esophagus then this may help remediate
hiatal hernia. However one must be careful not to stress that area (the top of the
stomach and middle bottom of the diaphragm area.)

If there is stress or pressure in the throat. larynx, chest, or throat probably the
diaphragm is being activated rather than relaxed. In general relax the neck, throat,
glottis, and diaphragm allowing the chin to fall into the sternal notch in jalandhara
bandha if it is impelled. There should be no stress, but rather a feeling of energy, fire,
lengthening, and opening in the middle region. As you exhale, the sternum will
naturally want to drop and the chest collapse, while the upper back and shoulders will
want to round and hunch, but preventing that occurrence is of greater benefit. Again
there is no gain in lengthening the duration of uddiyana bandha if it is prolonged to
the point where its release finds us coughing or gasping for breath at the end, but
rather find a happy and pleasurable point to end the practice before any discomfort.

Uddiyana is best preceded and used simultaneously with mulabandha which is


maintained during uddiyana. Try jalandhara bandha here also after uddiyana is
implemented paying attention to release jalandhara immediately before the uddiyana
or the pressure and stress will be created at the larynx and glottis. (See tri-bandha
below for more on the implementation and interaction of the three major bandhas).

Normally uddiyana bandha is used with external breath retention (bahya kumbhaka),
but contrary to some beliefs, uddiyana bandha can be used with great benefit with
internal breath retention (antar kumbhaka) as well after it is mastered with external
retention (bahya kumbhaka).

This is used in many pranayama and mudra practices. the above describes the
physical, coarse or gross form of uddiyana bandha. As an energy lock once this
dynamic is learned with the coarse form, it can be performed entirely energetically
(without the use of muscles or physical movement).

Benefits: Uddiyana is used in vamana dhauti kriya, nauli kriya, agni sara kriya, tri-
bandha, advanced mudras, pranayama, meditation, and also while in yoga poses
(especially in forward bends). It increases the tone of the abdomen and gastric fire
stimulating the entire fire chakra area. Thus the powers of digestion,
assimilation, and immunization are naturally augmented. It opens up blockages
in the manipura chakra and thus connects the water center (swadhistana chakra) and
muladhara with the air center (anahata chakra). It helps unties the Vishnu Granthi
and thus opens up into Vishnu Granthi. It is very purifying and forms the basis for
nauli kriya (see hatha yoga kriya section).

It completes/accomplishes mulabandha as a synergist as it helps lift the perineum.


Although usually done in its coarse form during and after an exhalation, when it is
done on an inhalation it completes jalandhara bandha and is often used as such in
intermediate and advanced pranayama and mudra practice. It often occurs
spontaneously in those whose natural vital energetics are active (have not become
repressed). When practiced in mudra, pranayama, and meditation it is usually done
sitting in lotus, siddhasana, vajrasana, or similar sitting poses. For the beginner
learning the the deep coarse form, it is first learned standing. It is a great purifier of
the entire abdomen by itself or when used as an element of nauli or agni sara.
The above coarse form of uddiyana bandha as classically described is to be performed
after the complete exhale (rechaka) with external retention (kumbhaka) because this
facilitates the most complete ability of the navel area abdominal fascia to move
inward toward the spine because the organs of the upper abdomen are drawn upward
and out of the way by allowing the diaphragm to release and lift. This is the standard
and classical uddiyana bandha.

A more subtle aspect of uddiyana is devoid of the actual physical motion of the navel
region being sucked in. Rather it is entirely an energy lock. Thus there exist mudras,
asanas, and sometimes in tri-bandha that also ask for uddiyana bandha while we are
engaged in the breathing process and/or also upon the internal in-breath (puraka)
retention (kumbhaka). In the latter case (inhalation) because the diaphragm is not
raised, this internal kumbhaka form of uddiyana bandha is less deep and gentle
physically (owing to fact that the diaphragm is lowered while the lung is full) thus
resisting the ability of the abdomen to contract. Here the point is not to try to
reproduce the coarse effect of the full traditional uddiyana bandha, but rather
the benefit from its ability to invigorate, open, and energize the back, spine,
pelvis, and chest drawing the energy up and in. Uddiyana when applied after in-
breath retention without strain can elicit a powerful if not more subtle effect especially
if we practice it with advanced techniques of reverse breathing, wavelike breathing,
and spine breathing with the chest elevated. Thus it greatly facilitates jalandhara
bandha as does jalandhara bandha mutually aids uddiyana bandha.

Advanced or Subtle Energetic (Sukshma Sharira) Practice:

Another application of uddiyana bandha that is nontraditional, yet very palatable is to


apply uddiyana bandha at the end of deep inhalation (puraka) drawing the energy into
the heart/lung area. Of course the application after the inhalation will be less deep
than in the traditional application on the exhalation. Uddiyana bandha is is very
helpful in pranayama and mudra practice while performing either internal and external
kumbhaka (retention of breath) and in many practices it is implemented continuously.
In both cases mulabandha, swadhi bandha (and in most cases jalandhara bandha)
should be performed at the same time. The applications of uddiyana bandha after the
retention of the full in-breath (antar kumbhaka) should be practiced only after
proficiency is established of the more traditional type of uddiyana bandha (which is
done with holding the breath out at the end of the exhalation in bahya kumbhaka.

After the manipura chakra is washed thoroughly and opened (after nauli kriya and
agnisara dhauti are mastered) then the pranayama practices are easily accomplished.
Uddiyana bandha greatly facilitates jalandhara bandha and vice versa, especially when
done after the in-breath retention with the diaphragm lifted. It raises the energy inward
and then upward, and it is curative to disorders of the small intestines, colon, lower
back, kidneys, and adrenals. Mulabandha greatly completes uddiyana bandha and is
essential to it. Coincidentally uddiyana bandha also completes mulabandha, i.e., they
are mutually synergistic and performed best simultaneously and spontaneously. All
three major bandhas are indeed mutually synergistic. Later one learns how to perform
these energy transforms without any motor/muscular movement. It is done by the
mind. Later this is done naturally and spontaneously the doer being the divine Self
through prana shakti, kriya shakti, chit shakti, or kundalini shakti.

Caution: Avoid any tension in the larynx, glottis, diaphragm, and throat. Avoid
the compression of the upper abdomen organs that normally lie in the solar plexus
area directly below the sternum such as the pancreas, liver, stomach area. The major
fault is the creation of tension in the area which is to be avoided. The second major
fault is to round the back (also to be avoided). The back and torso rather should be
kept elongated through the intelligent application of mulabandha In other words, the
pelvis does not tilt in retroversion, rather the pubic bone keeps its distance from the
navel. The heart remains lifted up off the abdomen, rather than collapse or fold into it.
In other words, we want SPACE and energy created in the abdomen as the navel
goes toward the spine. While the diaphragm rises up into the pleural cavity, the
abdomen should not collapse, thus creating the space for the navel to fold back and in
toward the spine forming a concavity of the abdomen. This creation of spaciousness
of the abdomen and lift of the heart region, while the back remains long feels like a
lift and hence the name uddiyana bandha Thus for the coarse uddiyana bandha the
sequence or rhythm of the flow in one fell swoop is:

1) Stand with the feet shoulder wide or wider.

2) Mulabandha

3) Bend the knees with the feet shoulder width apart.

4) Check the mulabandha so that the sacrum and tailbone drop down away from the
navel keeping the torso and back long.

5) Bend forward slightly at the pelvis (anteversion or dog arch) so that the lower
back does not round at first and the torso remains long.

6) Place the hands above the knees with the fingers pointing inward, elbows slightly
bent, and utilize the arms to help raise the chest even more off the pelvis creating
space in the belly. Feel the openness and length of the torso in front.

7) Exhale rapidly all the breath through the nose drawing inward and upward
from the lower dan dien (hara) while releasing the anteversion of the pelvis (or
lumbar arch). Allow a deep cavern to form in the belly. Here jalandhara bandha
helps lift the ribs up and off of the pelvis helping creating spaciousness in the belly.
A feeling of lightness, emptiness, and roominess is created lengthwise in the
abdomen. This is called "making room".

8) Hold the breath out in external retention (bahya kumbhaka) as a prayer.

9) Retain the bahya kumbhaka. Here the bahya kumbhaka and the uddiyana bandha,
mulabandha, and jalandhara bandha act as one.

10) Release the bandhas before there is a strong feeling to gasp air -- and before
any sensation of stress or strain allowing the air to be sucked back into the lungs. The
bandhas are slowly released as the air slowly comes back in while the diaphragm
comes back down into the torso, and the navel comes back forward (further allowing
the diaphragm to come further down while a deeper inhalation is allow, Keep the back
and torso long while maintaining mulabandha.

11) Let the breath come back to normal and then repeat as above.

12) Finish by standing straight, inhaling raising the arms over head, looking
upward with the gaze, and leaning backwards in slight extension while the pelvis
is allowed to slightly move into cat tilt (retroversion).

This gross physical form of uddiyana bandha practiced daily for three or four
rounds on an empty stomach can be mastered in a couple of weeks (plus or
minus). Agni sara kriya, nauli and lauliki kriya are then easily accomplished acting as
synergists with uddiyana bandha.

Jalandhara Bandha: Vishuddi (Throat) Chakra


and Rudra Granthi
This is the throat energy valve preventing the energy from being lost through the
throat chakra and redirecting it inward and up. It connects the head with the rest of
the body via the throat chakra as the sternal notch and chin appear to move
together (connect) hence the misnomer, called the chin lock. Please notice most
anybody can force the chin to touch the sternum, but that is not jalandhara bandha.
Such attempts will most likely be counterproductive, creating unwanted tension,
blockage, or pressure in the throat, neck, head, or chest. The best sign of effective
bandha practice is to ascertain whether or not the energy is freely moving throughout
the region (above and below it). That knowledge requires subtle awareness which in
turn is effected through ever increasingly more subtle practice. That means that the
awareness becomes more subtle as the experience deepens.

Physically the fascia at the back of the neck elongates creating magical or open
space. Simultaneously the front of the throat softens as the back of the neck
elongates. The jaw sinks. Simultaneously the back of the occiput moves back as
the heart moves toward the chin and the forehead moves forward. The pivot
point is the top center of the palate The scapula is allowed to sink toward the
pelvis while front of the shoulders and armpits raise spirally. The entire back
elongates..

No tension at all should be created in the throat or neck, rather stress, tension, rigidity
and hardness in these regions should be released. A buoyant sensitivity should be a
positive indicator. When the tension/blockage is released, then the energy is
liberated, transmitted, and made available. Energetically the nadis (energy channels
unknot and open allowing for heart consciousness to expand. Here the outward
dissipative flow of the throat chakra in terms of misdirected or dammed up energy
ceases and re-channeled inwardly. A natural expression of this bandha is mouna
(silence), fasting, a quiescence of the monkey-mind chattering - a quiescence,
fulfillment, and the activation of moral courage devoid of blame or hatred.

The key to the physical motion which introduces us to its energetic, emotional, and
spiritual components is the motion is that where the tip of the jaw is allowed to drop
toward the rising ribs, as the top end of the throat below the jaw at the hyoid bone
is sucked upward and backward (posterior and superior) towards the occiput as the
occiput simultaneously raises and moves posterior. The crown moves upward as the
top cervical vertebra lengthen and reestablishes it natural curve. The top of the scapula
as well as the seventh cervical vertebra do not lift but rather remain down (inferior)
conjoined with the thoracic vertebra.

An unfortunate tendency is to rush the bandha by allowing the back of the skull to fall
forward, rather please let the back of the skull remain back (posterior) allowing
for its rotation/pivot in the center of the upper soft palate The mid scapulae stay
down toward the pelvis at all times, but the very front top of the shoulders (attached
to the collar bone) should raise (especially for those who are kyphotic (chronically
hunched forward). Thus the entire chest to head interconnected fascia and energetic
patterns are affected.

General Discussion: The center of the action is thus a rotation/pivot at the palate, a
rotation at the hyoid bone (but most people have yet to become conscious of this
bone), as well as the posterior and upward movement at the root of the tongue. Since
many of these are inner and subtle, we will mainly describe jalandhara bandha in
coarse but common terms and landmarks like chin, chest, occiput, and so forth.
Although this movement can be broken down and learned at first sequentially, it all
moves as an interconnected and unitive free flow-- as an un-spiraling motion.

The neck and throat area are normally jammed packed with many vital nerves,
veins, arteries, glands, passageways, organs, (such as the thyroid, voice box,
trachea, vertebra column, etc.) providing not only nerve signals to and from from the
rest of the body, but also oxygen, liquid, and food from the nose and mouth to the
lungs and abdomen as well. Specifically the larynx, pharynx, voice box, cervical
spinal vertebrae, spinal cord, thyroid, and many other nerves and glands share this
small and often busy throat/neck region. It is the task of the yogi not to create tension,
blockages, imbalances, stress, or more rigidity, but rather release such, creating space
for natural evolutionary and harmonious flow to occur. Here we are creating open
space and energy flow. Other wise such activity will further aggravate or interfere
with the free flowing energy exchange which characterizes this vital region on a
physical level and the mental/emotional energetics on the more subtle energetic levels.
Jalandhara bandha insures this energetic harmonious free flow and at the same time
prevents its dissipation.

This is the seat of verbal (voice vibration) and articulate expression (through the
connection via the collarbones, arms, and shoulders, arms, and hands). This the chakra
where thought communicates with the rest of the body via speech and action. This
bandha connects the energy to the head (ajna chakra) .

General Directions: If you are sitting, the direction of the movement is such that
the leading subtle focus should be at the center of the top palate The subtle
indicators are that occiput moves back and slightly up (back and up, back and up), the
neck gets long as a result but natural curves are not stressed), The parietal and
sphenoid bones rote accordingly as base of the occiput is moving back) and the chin
(front tip of the mandible) is moving in toward the sternal notch, while the collar
bones and FRONT TOP of the shoulders and humerus (at the glenohumeral joint)
move upward and backwards simultaneously. At the same time the mid-scapulae
move downward toward the pelvis. The most common mistake is that a beginner
thinks that the chin must move down. No, rather just let the jaw drop open, and
let the rest of these parts move. Eventually if all the resisting fascia become
released, the chin will rest on the sternal notch by itself while the directive force
comes from an opening at the heart, neck, and cranium.

In order to prevent the chin from moving away from the sternal notch (as the sternal
notch is moving up toward the chin), try to expand your inner awareness to include
the back of the neck and occiput. The occiput should not move downward toward the
shoulders, but rather the scapula and BACK middle of the shoulders remain rotated
down (away from the occiput). This maintains a long distance from the ears the top of
the scapula. Thus the motion is curved like a spiral from the top front of the
shoulder girdle upward, and around bank down toward the tail bone. This motion will
also relax and elongate the posterior muscles of the neck. As the sternal notch raises
toward the chin, the back of lower neck moves posterior and caudad (toward the
tailbone). The jaw once dropped is then sucked back toward the spine as the top end
of the throat below the jaw at the hyoid bone, moves backward and upwards (posterior
and superior) towards the top of the cervical vertebrae. The yogi will notice that as the
jaw drops by itself, the cranium actually rises upward in regard to the torso.

To go over this movement again from a different angle, one is encouraged to loosen
up the shoulder girdle by allowing the head of the humerus to lift back and spiral in
the glenohumeral socket simultaneously as the front top of the shoulders at the
glenohumeral joint rotate upward and backward taking the head of the humerus
actively along with it. The ribs also simultaneously raise up off the abdomen in synch
with the lift of the front top of the shoulders at the glenohumeral joint and sternal
notch. This way the front of the cervical vertebrae do not become contracted. Also the
fascia of the throat is not engaged (it is relaxed), but rather it is the shoulder girdle that
is in motion in relation to the chin (the chin remains fixed). So contrary to some
common beliefs the throat does not flex, at least in the important beginning stages. In
order to prevent tension or resistance here, allow the chin to lift up and fall back down
in yes/no motions as the bandha proceeds. Also allow the chin to move left and right
as well as front and back and/or tilt and spiral.

As a preparation simply observe the bobbing motion of the head and neck while
performing three part or yogic breathing especially observing the effect of the
natural effortless rising upward of the chest as the top ribs raise upward upon the
filling of the upper chest with air. Does Jalandhara bandha occur on the inhale as the
ribs and heart rise and released on the exhale naturally?

To begin then one may first make sure that the fascia of the neck and throat are
relaxed by raising up the occiput and the chin simultaneously. this is just a way to be
sure that the neck and throat are well lengthened and the joints distracted removing
tension in both the front of the throat and the back of the neck.

It is also cogent that neither the chin nor the occiput move "forward" overall as they
eventually wind up raising skybound (or cephalic) in this distraction. If anything the
chin moves inward (toward the center of the body) as it is allowed to relax and
thus seemingly drop. Therefore it is important to allow the chin to curve inward and
then upward toward the upper cervical spine)) without sinking the occiput down and
conversely a simultaneous lift of the occiput without sinking the chin downward
(toward the feet) or forward. Thus the occiput raises up off the shoulders while the
front of the throat elongates at the same time. The root of the tongue at the top of
the throat actually moves up and away from sternal notch! Check the jaw, cheek,
tongue, ears, eyebrows, and eye balls and relax them as well.

This is the first and most important stage that is preparatory to jalandhara bandha
proper. This move is analogous to forward bends like uttanasana or
paschimottanasana where the flexion is at the hip not the back. In the second step after
we have become conscious of the free flowing energy of the throat and neck by
lengthening the fascia and releasing all tension and constriction, then we can allow the
aforesaid motion of guiding the curving of the front of the upper chest, the sternal
notch, glenohumeral joint, etc., upward, around and then back down toward the
tailbone in the aforesaid spiral motion actively moving the head of the humerus back
in the glenohumeral socket and upward allowing the sternal notch to eventually move
to meet the chin. This will open up the upper back, neck and throat, not close it down
or contract it (also in this regard see Hri bandha below).

As an adjunct inflating the top front ribs raising them upwards simultaneously
preventing the chin from fleeing and the back of the shoulders from rising. So the
chest rises to meet the chin, the chin does not need to drop to meet the sternal arch.
Because this movement is not linear, but rather sequentially curved and spiral,
describing it in words is necessarily non-linear. So again the occiput remains long
from the back of the shoulders throughout (thus preventing the back of the shoulders
from rising in relation), while simultaneously the back of the scapula rest downward
toward the sacrum.

The top of the humerus (upper arms) acts as an important synergist as it first moves
backward (posterior) in the gleno-humeral socket and then upward along with the
front of the shoulder girdle moves upward. Again we do NOT hunch the BACK of the
shoulders forward to get the chin to rest on the sternum, but rather we hunch up and
then sequentially move back (lift) the FRONT of the upper shoulder girdle (upper
ribs, upper sternum, collar bone, gleno-humeral joints, and humerus). This naturally
also increases our capacity to ingest more air as well. Taking a deep breath here while
inflating the top ribs adds to the lift.

So again let us avoid the common, but mistaken, conceptualization of jalandhara


bandha as bringing the chin in toward the sternal arch. Rather it is far more
efficacious to visualize it as bringing the sternal arch (along with it the front
upper shoulder girdle) upward to meet the chin as the chin curves inward and
upward, the back of the lower neck moves back while the root of the tongue moves
cephalic (up) away from the chin. The jaw is drawn back toward the spine as the top
end of the throat below the jaw at the hyoid bone as well as the root of the tongue
move backward and upwards (posterior and superior) towards the occiput as the
occiput itself moves upward and posterior. More subtly the corresponding spiral at the
sphenoid, parietal, temporal, and other cranial bones are also balanced and brought
into alignment.

This also ensures that the heart moves forward unobstructed (See Hri bandha),
sinking the back of scapula, and floating the back kidney points at T12 backward
and upward (as the upper ribs raise off the torso). This occurs by allowing the
upper thoracic column and ribs to elongate and extend while the center of the sternum
opens, thus relaxing and elongating any pre-existing tightness in the shoulder girdle,
chest, and neck muscles. Since chronic tight and tense neck, throat, chest, and upper
back muscles are the normal property of the average person, attempting to force
jalandhara bandha without adequate relaxation first may be counterproductive
aggravating neck, throat, shoulder, or upper back tension or strain. But if one
visualizes jalandhara as a relaxation, lengthening, an action that creates extra space--
as a process of softening into the jalandhara bandha while seeking out and augmenting
the energy flow and openness in this important chakra, then only benefit will ensue.

In such asanas such as halasana (plough), shoulder stand (sarvangasana), and bridge
(setu bandhu), a chin lock may be inadvertently forced as the chin is mistakenly
jutted into the sternum while the neck may be stretched too long or flattened. Such is
is not desirable. Here it is not only valuable to keep in mind the action of jalandhara
bandha keeping the chest open by lifting the sternal notch (top of the sternum) toward
the chin (not the chin toward the sternum) while also the entire sternum lifts up at the
same while allowing the front top of the shoulders and humerus to move up and
around and to the back in a circular type motion at the same time. This motion of
jalandhara bandha should be active (actively engaged) throughout such poses. In these
poses (shoulderstand, plough, and bridge), the tendency then is to jut the chin too far
forward and toward the sternum. That tendency must be avoided by allowing the
back of the neck from C6 through the occiput to lengthen, focusing on
maintaining the lift at the sternal notch upward toward the pelvis in this inverted
situation so that the chin rests superior to the sternal notch not on the sternum
itself. Again the key here is that the top end of the throat below the jaw at the hyoid
bone, moves backward and upwards (posterior and superior) in forward flexion and
posterior/superior motion of the hyoid. For this to work there should be freedom at the
atlas occiput junction.

It is likewise useful while practicing backward bends such as cobra with jalandhara
bandha, which work on expanding the chest, to bring the collarbone/upper sternum up
toward the chin and with it the front of the upper humerus raises and moves back into
the gleno-humeral socket, helping to extend the upper thoracic vertebra while
activating jalandhara bandha here as well. In these poses we should emphasize that
the chin does not raise upward lifting up away from the sternal notch by
jamming the back of the neck, but lifts up only when C7 and the posterior
scapula remain long off the ears and occiput. So in jalandhara bandha the heart
never collapses or sinks -- the posterior scapula never raises, and the upper front
humerus never moves in anterior and medially. here the hyoid and the occiput meet
and hence jalandhara bandha is similar to mulabandha where the pubis and tailbone
do not move apart as well. Again the key here is that the top end of the throat below
the jaw at the hyoid bone, moves backward and upwards (posterior and superior). This
is similar to the skull loop taught by John friend's anusara yoga.

Shoulder openers, arm grabs in back, chest openers, and the like also effect the action
of jalandhara bandha. Similarly the correct action of jalandhara bandha is a synergist
that makes such chest opening effortless, easy, joyous, and natural without
compromising any other part of the body.

In other words entirely avoid the common mistake of trying to force the chin down
onto an already restricted chest area or of straining the muscles of an already flattened
neck, rather allow for the neck's natural "S" shaped curve for maximum function
while allowing for the subtle release at the atlas/axis and the occiput.

Jalandhara connects the head with the heart basically allowing the energy to flow by
opening up the connecting throat chakra. It thus helps lift stuck energy from the
lower chakras through the throat and especially into the talu chakra (in the back
brain) and also to the ajna (third eye) region. This region is bordered at the lower
end by the thyroid and thymus glands and at the upper end by the hypothalamus,
medulla oblongata, CV4, and the entire back brain. Connecting the heartmind it
balances the autonomic and central nervous systems allowing body/mind harmony to
flow freely in all directions. Thus the tensions between the body and the mind are
ameliorated. Because of the chronic dysfunctional nature of the separation between
head and heart a preexisting chronic tension is slowly remediated (it can not be
successfully rushed or forced) through the efficacy of a practice that creates increased
energy flow synchronizing the respiration and sinus heart rhythms, while neuro-
muscularly lifting the heart forward as the upper chest moves upward. Like all
bandhas it reestablishes inward flow through the subtle, but causal energy body.

As the root of the tongue (hyoid) raises away from the chin, the space above the
crown should always be visualized as open, unobstructed, and clear as well. This
ensures that the energy from the crown to the heart stays open. There is no strain to
the neck but rather the distance between C7 and the occiput lengthens
considerably. There should not be any tug/stretch of the fascia below C6. This is
similar to saying that the top posterior scapula remains caudad. The energy remains
free flowing.

Another point of observation is that the center of the armpits will raise up and move
backwards in a spiral motion as the front of the upper shoulder girdle rises up and
around, while the backside of the upper scapula remains caudal or depressed (down
toward the tailbone). The upper humerus at the ball of the humerus rises in front and
moves backward in the shoulder socket (posterior), rather than being hunched forward
or medial. The lower ribs behind the kidneys do not sink or roll back but rather
lift straight up toward the skull as the ribs fill. The space in the pectoral region
releases tension and becomes alive. The full benefits of jalandhara bandha are
realized in pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, and mudra practice where the these
motions are completed.

In pranayama practice, jalandhara bandha is normally activated immediately


preceding a full inhalation (antar kumbhaka where the breath is held in) and/or at the
end of a full exhalation (called bahya kumbhaka where the breath is held outside the
body). In the bahya kumbhaka, jalandhara bandha is less pronounced because the
additional lift of the upper ribs provided by inhalation is not present. However
kumbhaka pranayama (stopping the breath willfully) is not advised until all the
preliminary pranayama practices have become mastered. If you have developed a
degree of sensitivity to the energy body, you can hold the breath only if it feels natural
and spontaneous. Do not perform pranayama with retention (kumbhaka) if you
are suffering from the residual effects of whiplash, otherwise it is an excellent
exercise for the entire body/mind. As a preparation simply observe the bobbing
motion of the head and neck while performing three part or yogic breathing especially
observing the effect of the rising chest as the top ribs raise upward upon the filling of
the upper chest with air. To get its energetic effects this bobbing motion can be done
very subtly almost unperceivable to an observer, but yet containing the necessary
energy.

As mentioned elsewhere some teachers teach the use of jalandhara bandha as the
major operating mechanism in kumbhaka (retaining the flow of the breath
(prana) so that the epiglottis is closed by jalandhara bandha preventing any air
from escaping or entering the top of the trachea). Others state that it is performed by
pressing the esophagus against the larynx thus closing off the wind passageways this
way. Using jalandhara bandha in this way may cause unnecessary strain and is not
recommended (unless your personal teacher has instructed you to do so and your
practice is being monitored by a master). The simple act of swallowing will also close
off the glottis preventing the breath to pass through the lungs. Try doing this
(swallowing after an inhalation) while holding the breath inside after a full inhalation.
Then direct the diaphragm top press further down into the belly while keeping the
chest raised in jalandhara bandha. Feel that effect and relax.

Some pressure may be felt in the lungs. If the diaphragm is simultaneously allowed to
press down into the abdomen indeed oxygen may be more easily utilized, but again it
is far safer not to create any pressure at all anywhere in the body without an
experienced teacher or without a highly developed sensitivity to the the life energy
(prana).

Rather it is safer and very effective to not use jalandhara bandha to close off the
respiration at the glottis, but rather allow the breath to raise upper pharynx
behind the nasal septum upward to create light pressure under the third eye
region. Imagine light and prana moving into the third eye. The nasal passages
themselves are often closed off utilizing khechari mudra or Vishnu mudra, but here
again be cautious that the closing of the vayu (winds) not be held at the nose, but
directed behind the nasal passages and superior toward the skull, where the
khechari mudra normally is directed. If the tongue does not lift the underside of
skull behind the third eye, let the breath give it rise. In advanced pranayama this
direction of the energy (prana) are performed through non-physical mentation and
energy techniques (through the breath, the nadis, and visualization).

One may also be aware that the energy of jalandhara (as in allowing the energy
of the heart and body to connect with the head) may be called forth in almost any
pose. A common remedial effect is that it prevents the jutting upward of the chin, the
resultant pinching/compression at the back of the neck, the opening of the upper
thoracic spine, and elimination of the mental/emotional tendency to raise the chin and
nose up in arrogance, avoidance, pride, or fear. Coincidnetally it prevents chronic
sunken chin as it tones and balances the entire throat region. Thus jalandhara bandha
can be utilized in most asanas while breathing continuously in order to relax the
throat, lengthen the back of neck, and open and facilitate the energy flow lifting it
through the throat chakra. Jalandhara, consciously implemented, balances the energy
preventing sjunken chests and jaws whiel preventing haughtiness and arrogance.

It is certain that the scalene muscle (running from the back of the cervical
vertebrae to the front of the top two ribs) as well as the sterno-cleido-mastoid
(SCM), and upper trapezius muscles, the pectoral muscles, teres, pectoral, and
other muscle groups which are involved helping to open up the apex of the lungs
and allow more prana to penetrate into the system and perhaps at the same time
allowing the chest to raise further up. The pectorals muscles release while the teres
muscles may become activated to aid in the entire inhalation process. Such comes into
fruition through effective pranayama (see traya bandha below).

Like the other bandhas, jalandhara bandha is an energy valve (blocking the outward
dissipating flow of energy while redirecting the life force back inward to regenerate
and irrigate the internal nadis and circuits), which we at first get in touch with by
experientially exploring through gross physical movements. This has physical,
energetic, and mental/emotional positive effects upon the entire psycho-
neurophysiology. After practice has matured, such is best allowed to occur naturally
and spontaneously once we clear out the obstructions in the body/mind, opening up
the nadis, forming new positive neuro-physiological tendencies, while reclaiming
sensitivity, awareness, and intelligence in these dynamics, so that it becomes a
spontaneous expression of the natural continuous eternal process of integration/union
of shakti/shiva.

Jalandhara bandha is also associated with untying the Vishnu Granthi and thus
opening up the Vishnu Loka or the Sambhogakaya by helping raise the energy
from the lower chakras connecting into the heart as it works very well with
mulabandha and uddiyana bandha in this respect. As such Jalandhara bandha helps
draw the energy upward through the heart and throat. It also allows the bindu
(neuro-endocrine substances at the brain) to melt down through the throat to the
herat and rest of the body. However Jalandhara is associated specifically with
opening the Rudra Loka at the third eye (ajna chakra) as it frees the energy
blockages at the throat allowing it to enter talu chakra and ajna chakra and upward
through the upper Brahmarandhra (hole at crown of the head) where Siva resides.

Picture shows the bregma fontanelle in front and the lambda fontanelle in back.
Performance: One may well visualize that center
of rotation for jalandhara involves the lifting of the
heart toward the head as the hyoid bone located at
the top front of the throat moves upward (superior)
and back (posterior). The head of the humerus
helps lift the glenohumeral joint upward and
backward along with the rising of the sternal notch
upper ribs, collar bones, and armpit chest which all
move upward and backward, while the posterior
scapula rests downwards (caudad). The chin
relaxes downward and inward, but that motion does
not come from a rounding of the mid-cervical
(hence the "S" curve of the neck is not reversed.
The sternal notch is brought up toward the hyoid
but the hyoid is moving to the crown. The chin
simply relaxes inward and upward in relation to the
throat. The scapula remains resting downward
lengthening away from the ears and the occiput. The back of the lower neck is brought
further backward and and prevented from moving upward while the root of the tongue
(near the hyoid) raises upward away from the sternal notch.

As the upper front shoulder girdle is raised upward and then revolved backward (in a
spiral motion) toward the back of the occiput, the heart moves forward (hri bandha) as
the armpit chest spirals upward toward the occiput. Relax the throat and lengthen the
neck so the chin can naturally go down and in. The distance between the occiput stays
long in relation to the top back of the shoulders. Think heart lift rather than neck
stretch.
Hint: Create space at the back of the occiput throughout both the throat and neck.
Allow for spirals, tilts, and eccentric motion as the neck realigns and releases. The
chest should feel more open while the top back of the scapula moves inferior (caudad)
and anterior in as the back of the occiput raises and moves back (posterior and
superior). Simultaneously the heart is lifted as it is moved forward, the back of the
lower ribs lift upward (kidney's lift) as the front of the floating ribs move posterior
and tilt. See to it that the jaw, cheeks, tongue, throat, are not tense or clenched and all
the other subtle joints of the cranium neck, throat and chest can relax through this
motion. Many people have chronic TMJ problems which jalandhara bandha may
correct over time, but who may may experience strange sensations in jalandhara
bandha until the jaw unwinds.

One may visualize that the entire back of the skull is being lifted toward the stars
from a string attached at the lambda point (the topmost point where the parietal
bone and occiput meet) and then from there rotated forward. There are many very
subtle motions in jalandhara bandha (especially difficult for those who have chronic
neck tension). A subtle but salient point is in allowing the rotation and spiraling of
the back of the skull without allowing the occiput (the cranial base) to move forward.
Rather the occiput remains back (posterior) and up (superior). The hyoid bone as it
rotates in forward flexion lifting inward and upward the upper front throat area which
abides near the root of the tongue. (See diagram number ???)

In yogic diaphragmatic three part breathing the head bobs up slightly as the entire
chest area as well as the top of the chest is filled with prana. If we allow this natural
motion of the chest filling with prana to continue to move upward we activate the
natural motion of jalandhara bandha spontaneously. In classic breath retention, the
jalandhara bandha is implemented after the breath has been stilled (last) . In classic
pranayama, mulabandha is implemented first. Most of the time uddiyana is performed
in between. Thus jalandhara bandha is applied to cap off the retention of the breath
classically. It is normally released before the breath is resumed. Classically on
exhalation we release jalandhara first, implement uddiyana bandha, and release
mulabandha last. Classically on inhalation uddiyana bandha is completely relaxed,
mulabandha contains the prana at the lower centers (implemented next) and then at
the top of the inhalation the jalandhara bandha is implemented. However as energy
valves the bandhas can be implemented all the time. The synchronization of
jalandhara bandha in relation to the other bandhas and the breath is described in detail
below in the section on the three bandhas (traya- bandha).

The above bone/muscle presentation of jalandhara bandha describes the outside


mechanical form. Internally during breath pauses (kumbhaka) it i soften
recommended to close the glottis so no air can go in and out of the lungs. When the
glottis is relaxed the throat (pharynx) opens to the lungs facilitating breathing, but
when we swallow food and drink the glottis is closed thus closing the common
passageway of the pharynx off from the lungs (larynx) and opens the pharynx to the
esophagus and hence the stomach instead. This is the process of glutination. Hence we
can become more aware of the full process of jalandhara bandha by observing the
swallowing process, thus exercising and strengthening the glottis allowing the air to
pause without any tightness or constriction. This can be best observed after a full three
part diaphragmatic yogic breath inhalation, retention (kumbhaka), and then
swallowing implementing jalandhara bandha and consequently pressing down the
diaphragm into the belly. This has a corresponding nervous system action which tones
the vagus nerve. Whether or not jalandhara bandha is preformed with a closed glottis
or not, mentally and emotionally both the powerful breathing and eating dynamics and
their equally powerful emotions are affected by jalandhara bandha. (See diagram
number ???) That is the classic description, however one may desire to experiment
not closing off the glottis or creating any pressure at all in that region but rather
frill the entire windpipe to the area behind the nasal cavity pressing gently in
back of the third eye with uplifting prana pressing upwards. On the exhalation
one can feel the wind press gently against the third eye opening behind the nasal
cavity utilizing ujjayi pranayama.

Cautions: Do not create stress in the neck, throat, jaw, face, eyes, palate,
shoulders, or anywhere else. Let it find a groove. Especially avoid allowing the chin
to drop forward and down or the top of the neck or skull comes forward. Rather keep
the top of the neck below the occiput within its natural "S" shaped curve, backward
(posterior), and long, allowing the back of the occiput (above the atlas) to swivel up as
the chin moves down (rather than forward). Avoid collapsing the upper thoracic
vertebrae as well. It is suggested to breathe fully when doing bridge, shoulder stand,
halasana, knee to ear pose, and other asanas that force an extreme jalandhara bandha,
but always avoid any constrictions/tightness of the throat as well as the breath. If you
already have a flat neck (less than 10% of the population), then make an effort that the
normal "S" shaped curve of the neck is achieved by making an effort to bring C1 and
C2 posterior as the chin moves down and inward. The latter will correct a flat neck at
the upper cervical spine.
Benefits: Jalandhara bandha tonifies the throat chakra, neck, shoulder, and arm
regions. Jalandhara bandha is a great aid in pranayama which in turn is a great boost
to pratyhara and meditation practice.

It can release and tone all the fascia running through the neck, chest and head
including the scalene muscle (running from the back of the cervical vertebrae to the
front of the top two ribs) as well as the sterno-cleido-mastoid (SCM), upper trapezius
muscles, the pectoral muscles, teres, and others. It can correct TMJ and flat neck
problems when performed with sensitivity and awareness. Jalandhara bandha helps
pump the energy through the throat chakra into the crown and keeps the energy that
has risen to the crown, third eye, and talu chakras from sinking down, leaking, or
being dissipated, so it may continue to circulate in the chakra system. Like most
bandhas it accomplishes pratyhara (here at throat chakra) bringing cleansing the
corrupted energy in the throat area and arms and integrating it by bringing it back into
the central channel. It remediates the tendency to jut up of the chin with resultant and
cervical vertebral compression. It relieves pressure at the cervical spine and relaxes
tension at the throat region. In yoga therapy it is specifically recommended in treating
cases of high blood pressure. It aligns the cranial bones by adjusting the sphenoid
bone (which rests on the cranial base inside the occiput. It frees the atlas/axis
alignment and movement. It affects thyroid function and enhances the voice. It helps
open the chest and heart and relaxes the shoulders. Thus it is beneficial to any adverse
conditions that effect the upper torso, neck, and head. It counteracts arrogance,
snottiness, uppitiness, and other such affectations of pride and ignorance. It lifts the
heart and brings forth divine will, its expresion, and hence moral courage is one
effect.

The Asterion (In Greek, Ruler of the Stars). In medicine, the craniometric point
behind the ear where the parietal, temporal, and occipital bones meet
Spiritual and Mental Effects:

Jalandhara bandha is an essential aid in pranayama, pratyhara, and dharana practices.


It keeps physical and pranic circulation open between expressive/manifestation center
(throat and heart) as well as between the ajna chakra (third eye) and throat, hence it is
the connection between heart and mind -- body and soul. It is synergistic in
conjunction with mulabandha and uddiyana bandha as tri-bandha at anytime,
especially in pranayama, and very helpful before and during meditation in order to
draw the attention and concentration back into the central column and energy body,
thus facilitating pranayama, pratyhara, and dharana simultaneously. As the connector
between the head and heart, practice can be expedited by understanding the function
of kurma nadi and the akasha (ether). See Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (chapter III) for
more. Jalandhara bandha not only opens and activates the vishuddha chakra which is
associated with the expression of Divine will and hence moral courage, while
completing the conjunction of anahata chakra (heart) and ajna chakra (third eye) fully
activating the ajna opening, but jalandhara also unties the knot at the Rudra Granthi
thus providing the gateway into the formless Rudra Loka (realm of Siva/Maheshvara)
or Dharmakaya (the primordial formless Buddha) hooking the energy through the last
great granthi (knot) into the crown center (sahasrara).

The Sphenoid Bone: Wings of Hermes

Traya (Three fold) Bandha (sometimes called


Maha Bandha)
General warnings about pranayama and bandha practice:

1) Never feel forced. Yoga should be gentle and healing


2) Stop the practice immediately if a headache, pain in the heart region, or
dizziness occurs.

Pranayama is very powerful and causal. it links the autonomic nervous system
with the conscious central nervous system and is capable of achieving far
reaching body/mind results. Being powerful, it can not be approached
mechanically, unfeelingly, and without sensitivity without bringing forth
disaster, just as a match should not be played with by a child.

Classically tri-banda or bandhas three (traya-bandha) is the utilization of the three


major bandhas of mulabandha, uddiyana bandha, and jalandhara bandha within an
overall conjointly sequenced order. Classically mulabandha is usually activated
first, then uddiyana, then lastly jalandhara, but as we will see all three can
happen as a spontaneous and mutually synergistic wavelike motion.

Most often we release jalandhara first and mulabandha last (the reverse order of
application). This is a good rule to learn at first, with the foreknowledge that all
these rules are artificial, they are to be broken as one advances and authentic
wisdom through functional and effective practice supplants mere rules of thumb. Also
the advanced student should realize that there exist many variations of the bandhas in
conjunction with the various pranayama, mudra and visualization techniques. For
example we have already previously stated that an energetic mulabandha can and
should be implemented all the time (the tailbone and legs grounded), but in the
beginning the bandhas are learned in their coarse external form and in a sequential
order. Indeed it assumed that the beginner has already learned the hatha yoga kriyas,
especially aswini mudra, vajroli mudra, sthula basti, agni sara, and nauli kriya before
traya bandha is presented.

At the end of this chapter we have introduced additional adjunctive bandhas, so while
utilizing these additional bandhas a rule of thumb is to apply the bandhas from the
bottom up, and release them from the top down. Thus first mula, swadhi, nabhi,
uddiyana, hri, jalandhara, and ajna bandhas -- in this case the order is usually best
initiated from a firm base upward. If performed energetically the bandhas need not be
a strain at all and can be held indefinitely, however such a presentation is not the
classical written presentation (which is the gross and external). Especially jalandhara
bandha is only given during kumbhaka (retention) and never held while the breath is
moving i.e., it is released at the end of retention before the breath starts to move. In
this section we will discuss

Here we will limit our discussion to the various implementations of tri-bandha which
is a very valuable application for pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, mudra, and
meditation practice. It cures both a wandering mind and a sleepy mind (both diseases
of either rajas or tamas). Try doing all the bandhas all together in the following
sequence, not only during meditation, asana, and pranayama practice, but even during
the day while walking, sitting, and working.

Again the general rule of thumb is to activae mulabandha first. Most of the time
activate uddiyana second or as a adjunct with mulabandha. Then jalandhara
lastly. It is a practical rule to release jalandhara first and mulabandha last. As
we reiterate often the subtle form of mulabandha can be done anytime/all the time (in
other words we do not release mulabandha at all). It doesn't ever have to be released
as it forms the base of the pelvis. In pranayama proper it contains the energy atthe
base so that it is diercted into teh central channel.

Likewise in classical pranayama jalandhara is usually not recommended while the


breath is moving. It is only applied during retention (kumbhaka) as it designed there
to move the energy between the head and the feet again utilziing breath retention. So
we necessarily distingusih between using the bandhas conjointky with breath retention
and utilizng the bandhas in asana, pranayama (without breath retention), dharana, and
everyday life.

When not doing formal breath retention the preceding energetic approach to apply the
bandhas 24/7 is excellent advice as this will prevent any restriction of the breath,
energy, movement, or consciousness at any of the energetic centers.

So here we to point out the existence of a more subtle and energetic jalandhara bandha
(as well as the other bandhas), which also can be applied anywhere/all the time. For
example, the subtle motion of jalandhara bandha can be applied in any asana so
that one who may have the tendency to jut out their too far forward and upward
(which causes an undesirable compression at the back of the neck) will benefit by
bringing the chin inward and down toward the throat and at tech same time creating
more space between the occiput and the top of the shoulders. This movement of
jalandhara bandha can be used to alleviate neck tension when done with a soft throat,
but if one already has a flat neck, a reversed curvature at the neck, or other
abnormalities of the s like curve at the cervical region, then more customized
directions are suitable, thus the above can only be stated as a general rule of thumb.
For example many people tend to compress the back of their neck in backward bends,
but not all while some people may overly flatten the back of their necks in
sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and halasana (plough pose), but their are many
exceptions. In this regard a a "good" teacher may be a reasonable substitute until the
lacking "self knowledge" is attained. This is true for all kriya, asana, bandha,
pranayama, and mudra practice.
Tribandha taken conjointly is very valuable for mudra, pranayama, pratyhara,
dharana, and meditation practice. As mentioned above, tribandha not only cures both
a wandering mind and a sleepy mind (both diseases of rajas or tamas) and thus is
excellent as a counteractive remedy in meditation practice, but it goes further in
balancing the doshas and winds, balancing prana and apana -- the ha and the tha of
hatha yoga. It increases rajas energy if it is lacking and moves it through the system if
it has accumulated to excess in any one spot and been blocked. Bandhas help to move
the energy through all the energy centers and as mentioned above can be said to pierce
the three psycho/physical knots (granthis) which block the three realms of existence.
Tri-bandha or trayabandha specifically draws the energy into the the muladhara
chakra and from there into the sushumna (central column) and it is thus the forerunner
of the advanced pranamaya practice of vase breathing and the mudra practice of
tummo heat. As such the practice of the bandhas are often called a fire practice.
Indeed it is closely related to tapas (turning up the heat) in many respects.

As indicated throughout this book. Traya (traya means the three) bandha in its subtle
energetic form can be implemented throughout asana practice and throughout the day
and night. They also occur spontaneously when one is naturally aligned with Source
or as Grace. Traditionally the three bandhas (Traya bandha) as used in pranayama
practice is as follows. Very Simple traditional tribandha (trayabandha)

• Exhale all the breath out applying mulabandha, uddiyana


bandha, and cap it off with jalandhara bandha in that order.
Play with accentuating mula and uddiyana bandha here. Hold
the breath out while the torso and spine remains long.
• Release jalandhara first, then uddiyana, then mulabandha, as
you inhale drawing the air down into the lower abdomen as the
diaphragm and abdomen expands.
• At the end of the inhale apply mulabandha first and then cap it
off with jalandhara bandha (binding the prana inside) while
lifting the spine and torso (crown raises up toward the
heavens).
• Increase this inner "lift" and feeling of internal space playing
with mulabandha and jalandhara bandha while holding the
breath in (antar kumbhaka) without any strain.
• Before any tension or stress (or when the lift has peaked), then
release the jalandhara bandha first, then the breath and
mulabandha, while implementing uddiyana bandha slowly until
all the air has been expelled.
• Repeat as in 1 above 10 times.
• Be gentle and go for the vital healing energy.
Sequence of traya bandha with antar kumbhaka (internal retention) utilizing
mulabandha throughout:

1. Exhale all the breath out applying mulabandha, uddiyana


bandha, and cap it off with jalandhara bandha in that order.
Play with accentuating mula and uddiyana bandha here. Hold
the breath out while the torso and spine remains long. This is
called external retention (bahya kumbhaka or sometimes
rechaka kumbhaka).
2. Release jalandhara first, then uddiyana as you inhale.
3. At the cap of the inhale, bind it with jalandhara bandha and lift
the spine and torso up off the pelvis even more with an
uddiyana bandha and gentle accentuation of mulabandha. This
is called internal retention (antar kumbhaka sometimes called
puraka kumbhaka).
4. Release the cap of jalandhara bandha first, then the breath
5. Repeat as in 1 above

Pranayama with retention (kumbhaka) is not recommended without expert


guidance. Especially forced external kumbhaka (bahya kumbhaka) can have
quite serious consequences as it can cause negative pressure in the lungs and
stress to other components. It is is cooling activity.

Another way to perform tri-bandha is to hold the jalandhara bandha all the time (never
unlocking it). Just make sure that the glottis is open and the throat and neck muscles
are not tight, tense, nor stressed. In other words both jalandhara and mulabandha
are implemented throughout and the practice becomes more of a pranayama
practice. Some schools teach jalandhara bandha to include the forced closing of the
glottis, but in this specific version there is no tension or holding at the throat or glottis,
but merely the chin comes in toward the sternal notch while the back of the neck
elongates.

The following is a simple version that I like to give in a mixed class: Here
mulabandha is implemented throughout, but jalandhara is manipulated, while
uddiyana bandha changes from a subtle implementation (on the inhalation) to a more
physical coarse implementation on the exhalation:

1. Inhale through the nose while visualizing the prana coming in


from Infinite Source through the crown of the head through the
entire body down into the muladhara in a subtle wavelike
motion.
2. After the full inhalation is complete apply mulabandha and
then top off the short and light retention of breath with
jalandhara bandha to hold the breath inside (antar kumbhaka).
3. Then smoothly release the jalandhara bandha first, while
spontaneously starting a gradual uddiyana bandha to expel all
the air out moving the apana in an upward motion starting in
the lower abdomen, through the torso, to the top of the head
melting any hardness and purifying any poisons.
4. Inhale again as in one and repeat this tribandha visualization
practice 10 times

Hints:

Since uddiyana bandha is always best implemented in conjunction with mulabandha,


the above did not recommend releasing mulabandha before the exhalation (after
releasing jalandhara bandha), but please note that many schools advocate releasing the
mulabandha during exhalation (right after jalandhara bandha is released). It is
advantageous to keep the spine long throughout as if the crown were raising
toward the heavens while the pelvic diaphragm simultaneously merges/connects
with the center of the earth. The active motion is at the navel connecting to the
spine, not at the diaphragm which should be relaxed as it is allowed to move
upward. On the inspiration eventually visualize the muladhara chakra sucking in the
cosmic prana through the implementation of mulabandha while on the expiration the
apana returns upward to Source through the a very fine channel approximating the
spinal spinal column. If you like establish conscious rapport with the self supporting
pillar (lingam) that exists between heaven and earth.

Advanced Practice:

1. At the end of the inhale compound the muladhara region


allowing for a more reflexive, efficient, and spontaneous
simultaneous implementation of both mulabandha and
uddiyana bandha and extend the antar kumbhaka (internal
inhalation). The belly slightly expands during the inhalation,
but at the end of the inspiration the lower belly goes inward
toward the sacrum as the floor of the pelvic diaphragm
spontaneous lifts through mulabandha, and the spine
lengthens. This is the beginning of classic vase breathing
(discussed in the pranamaya section).
2. Optionally, after the exhalation when one visualizes the apana
rising through the very thin central threadlike channel which
ends at the brahmarandhra (hole of brahma at the vertex) one
can practice external retention of the air (bahya kumbhaka).
This is the hole where the spirit in the form of vital life
supporting prana leaves the body at death and is part of more
advanced practice called Phowa in Tibetan. It should NOT be
practiced by beginners (external retention) and focus at the
crown because of the danger of premature death.

In general, if you have not learned the subtle practice of mulabandha (see above in the
mulabandha section), then it is best to make sure that you release mulabandha before
the exhalation. Make sure that after the practice any tension in the pelvic and
urogential diaphragm regions are released. However if you have learned the energetic
aspect of mulabandha without contraction, then it is better to hold mulabandha in that
way throughout the pranayama practice never releasing it. The practice itself puts us
"in touch" with the energy and it is this pure awareness that continues to instruct.
Without this awareness we resort to general rules of thumb (which are merely
temporarily compensatory in nature. In more advanced practice occurs when the
energy no longer leaks outside (bound inside activating the subtle energy body) -- all
three bandhas as energy valves directing the energy into the evolutionary body is
simultaneously occurring continuously -- all the time.

The ordinary use of the three bandhas are highly advantageous specifically in
pranayama practice and especially, especially so in kumbhaka. So as we become
more at ease in pranayama practice and more aware of the energetics we not
only apply the mulabandha all the time, but actually we can apply the subtle
energetic uddiyana bandha after the jalandhara bandha at the end of the
INHALE. as well. This creates space in the torso and lengthens the spine facilitating
traction and extension (ayama). Although this is learned sequentially at first, later the
bandhas are practiced so that they are not applied mechanically, but rather gradually
and softly and all together in a wave like or spiral motion in coordination with the
lungs, ribs, spine, torso, head, and pelvis.

There exist external "rules" for beginners, but eventually they ALL have to be
thrown away as we learn from the prana itself -- as we form a living response-able
partnership with the life energy. . Indeed progress means change and there are many
planes and transitions/transformations to ALLOW for. How can this occur if we are
tightly holding onto the past a authoritative, lawful, or "right"? Indeed how can we
allow our sacred cows (false limiting beliefs) to fall away?

Jai Durga!
Utilizing the Three Basic Bandhas with the Breath,
Pranayama and Advanced Mudra Practice
The process is like a wave on the ocean -- it is neither sharp angled nor flat -- it is not
even three dimensional -- It happens fully when we drop the individual mind and will
altogether and allow for it (through authentic isvara pranidhana). Thus the motions do
not happen sequentially, but rather in mutual synchronicity. They are mutually
synergistic. As practice increases the activity becomes ever more refined and subtle.

To avoid energetic and physical problems the bandhas are taught first. Then asana,
then pranayama proper, then mudra (with asana, bandha, visualization, and breath).
Utilizing traya bandha thus in pranayama assumes that we have done at least the
preparations.

1) Thus in pranayama at first we teach beginning yoga students diaphragmatic breath


(to be aware of moving the diaphragm while breathing). This is shown by the belly
rising on the inhale and sinking on the exhale. Later once this awareness and ability is
integrated we teach them three part breath (yogic breathing). First the belly inflates,
rises, and widens; then the ribs, and then the apex of the lungs while upon exhalation
the reverse occurs. One should notice how the ribs attach to the sternum in front and
the spine to the back and how the breath thus lengthens the spine and moves the heart.
This is as far as the majority of the yoga students go, but it is only a preliminary
only.

2) Then alternate nostril breathing (nadis shuddhi), agni sara, kapalabhati, ujjayi,
sitkari, sitali, and their variations are usually taught with their variations are taught.
These are all very safe (as they are done without retention). Again we are assuming
that the basic bandhas (mula, uddiyana, and jalandhara) are already familiar. In this
regard the hatha yoga shat karmas (kriyas) are most synergistic. Likewise the
bandhas are essential for the kriyas.

For example, traditional jal basti, vamana dhauti, nauli kriya, and agni sara kriya can
not be done without first mastering uddiyana bandha. Thus these kriyas (along with
the rest of the shat karmas) are taught at the very beginning of any traditional hatha
yoga training. Unfortunately, it is not well known in the West that all the bandhas may
be used very effectively during asana practice as well as well as pranayama and as a
preparation for meditation.

The average students in the West are not interested beyond these preliminary stages.
Only when there is sincere spiritual interest or passion (tapas) the more advanced
pranayamas are taught which involve kumbhaka (retention) as the next step.
Always as we start to address"developmental"stages, there will arise contradictions as
to the "rules" set out for the beginner. In other words the beginner is taught to perform
nadis shuddhi (alternate nostril breathing) incorporating the three part breath noticing
the duration and qualities of the breath. This is very instructive and beneficial -- not a
phase to be skipped. Later nadi shuddhi is developed further to sukha purvaka where
one applies mulabandha at the end of the inhale then jalandhara bandha (holding two
bandhas). Then to exhale, release jalandhara bandha first, then implement uddiyana
bandha, and lastly at the end of the exhalation the beginner is often taught to release
mulabandha. Although some schools teach to hold mulabandha throughout, it is
generally thought to beneficial for the beginner to alternately let go and
implement mulabandha with awareness frequently, especially at first.

This same sequence can be used for internal (antar) retention (kumbhaka) after
bhastrika or kapalabhati as well or any antar kumbhaka for that matter, but it is only
preliminary and should not be held onto as if these bandhas were actually "performed"
sequentially, linearly, or rigidly but rather more so smoothly, with kinesthetic
feedback, energetically, wavelike, and naturally.

Likewise for external (bahya) retention (kumbhaka), say at the end of bhastrika,
we implement mulabandha, exhale all the air out with a strong uddiyana bandha.
While maintaining mula bandha and uddiyana bandha we cap it off with jalandhara
bandha, but instead of these being performed one at a time (sequentially) they can be
done all in a gradual wavelike spiral movement and energetically. Then to inhale, we
release jalandhara bandha first, then uddiyana, then mulabandha and engage in
another round of bhastrika.

Of course it is best to have an experienced teacher observe and suggest, but they are
rare, while the inner teacher of innate awareness is always available according to
our passion and ability to apply sensitivity and awareness to our practice. But because
pranayama is indeed a very powerful force, it is recommended that an experienced
teacher be consulted (at least for pranayama practices that call for kumbhaka).
Remember that the point is not to hold the breath as long as you can (in goal
orientation, control, or will power -- as that can be injurious), but rather attain
that state where breathing is no longer called for (Kaivalya).

The above "guidelines" exist for the intermediate beginner and further practice
REQUIRES that we eventually give up these guidelines as well. This is called
authentic PROGRESS or spiritual evolution. So there exist then further advanced
practices which will contradict the above as we become more finer attuned to the ever
present teaching/teacher -- as we learn to listen in pure awareness and consciousness.
It is my hope that the above will be sufficient to begin the journey of inner
exploration, as it is not desired to add confusion nor rush the practice. It is very
powerful at first to become aware of the breath and activate certain energy circuits.
One learns to activate the breath and energy. When the nadis are open and the
requisite awareness of the energy body is achieved , then most likely the inner
wisdom and evolutionary consciousness so activated will lead the sincere seeker
further by itself -- we become breathed by that Source and know it directly.

As mentioned, these practices involve utilizing the energy of uddiyana bandha even
on the in- breath so that instead of having the belly inflate, the back and pelvis fills
while the torso and spine remain elongated. . This is also called back breathing and
is the beginning of vase breathing (of the Maha Siddhas) which is a requisite
preliminary to Tummo (Kundalini practice) and Phowa, which is itself a preliminary
to the more advanced inner/outer tantric practices of aligning and synchronizing the
inner constellations with the outer.

Thus it is best to start off with the clear understanding that all the bandhas are
ENERGY locks on the subtle level, not necessarily muscle contractions (although
their energetic movement may as a result shorten the spaces between two bones).
For instance in mula bandha the perineal space must soften to be allowed to draw up
(if it is drawn too far down), and thus with the softening of the area the space between
the pubic bone and tail bone shortens. If we suffer from a lack of apana, then the
perineum may already be drawn up too much in spasm and must be allowed to relax.
The point being (see aswini mudra and mulabandha discussion), the bandhas are not
done through normal muscle contraction as in the outer/gross form of aswini mudra or
vajroli mudra.

With all bandhas we establish flow and remove stasis and thus there is an absence of
effort and force -- it MUST become more than effortless -- it must energize,
balance apana/prana, and give us energy! This is being reiterated because it is the
most common misconception. Thus the bandhas create flow through and between
the chakras, rather than restrict it. They loosen the knots, not worsen them. Thus
they redirect dormant energize while liberating our higher embodied potential and
evolutionary circuitries. What they do restrict is the outward dissipation of energy
at the very chakras thus stopping the outflow and in this sense they are the energetic
and physical correspondent to pratyhara and vairaga in these regions their ultimate
purpose is to stop outward flow and dissipation while activating the evolutionary
energy in the central nadis (sushumna) called kundalini (i.e., the purpose of hatha
yoga).

All the above can be invited to happen naturally -- all the bandhas and breath can
be implemented a little at a time simultaneously -- all a little at once -- synergistically,
without rigidity, as the spine moves in a wavelike spiraling manner, rather than one
at a time sequentially. When the inner teacher takes over -- all this happens not
through the agency of the will or the intellect, but rather by shakti's grace -
spontaneously.

More elaborate or sophisticated techniques are not always better. The main thing is
that the divine passion/longing is still beckoning us strongly, and we are moving in
that direction through our yoga practices. Extensive techniques may be obtained in
books or by external teachers, but the inner wisdom energy must lead. Authentic
practice is based upon getting the inner guide activated and very much involved
-- know him/her as no other than the Self. All instruction is available in turiya. We
can share some specifics, but such should not be limited to linear, flat plane, willful,
external, or left brain dominated practice.

The best practice is one that is suited for our own unique constitution (which
necessarily varies for each individual). What thus works best is to emphasize
listening, observing, meditation, receptivity, receiving information (often in the
form of positive biofeedback loops) and then acting accordingly and while
augmenting innate "response-ability" until a direct positive feedback loop is
created -- self activated -- spontaneous while still observing, but here the individual
will and intellect is no longer the doer. In sahaj or natural yoga we are moved and
breathed by "THAT" --- that COMMUNION with nature in everyday life (as well as
in sleep) is what my practice attempts to deepen, make more continuous, and whole.
Thus it is very simple -- requires no books, computer, or props other than a good
blanket/mat or kusha grass, passion, and mother.Jai Ma!

Part Two: Less Common Adjunctive Bandhas


Following are some additional inner energetic bandhas that are often recommended
for various specific effects. They are advanced, but at the same time, not necessarily
better (as more is not always better). For example, mulabandha is generally
considered to be the most valuable bandha. If it is implemented "correctly" all
the other bandhas will come into place and for the most part, they may even
occur spontaneously. Likewise, for example, if mulabandha is perfect, then swadhi
bandha will not be called for in the first place.

Some of the following are modern non-traditional bandhas that have been
formulated through intensive hatha yoga practices, which may not be suitable for
every body. In addition, one may find more bandhas listed by modern yogins such as
hasta bandha and pada bandha that is described in Orit Sen-Gupta's and Dona
Holleman's book,. "Dancing the Body of Light: The Future of Yoga", Pegasus, 1999
and also by Tias Little in his excellent article in the November 2001 issue of "The
Yoga Journal".

For example, in pada bandha the natural arch in the foot allows for a unique
maximum flow of energy through the legs and foot which is a pivotal center
especially in standing poses, but pada bandha can be activated in most all poses
(sirsasana, sarvangasana, etc.). To get a feel of pada bandha try single leg balancing
poses such as ardha chandrasana, Nataraja, or especially warrior III where the foot
"cups" the earth. All the toes remain long and wide but a trans-integrity is formed
in that the tarsal bones (toes) press toward the heels as the heels stay engaged
with the toes, Thus the arch and entire foot is strengthened, balanced, and
energized. When we are able to strengthen the arch of the foot via pada bandha,
we then are able to utilize the lift at the arch to augment the lift of mulabandha.
One will experience this synergy with practice.

Likewise in hasta bandha this particular cupping configuration is applied to the


hands when they touch the earth. This trans-integrity within the nadis allows
synergistic efficacy especially for handstands, scorpion, plank, and the like. All arm
balances with the palms facing down can greatly benefit from the lift of hasta bandha.
Note that the base of the palm and the pads of the palm both remain on the earth, but
the center of the palm gently cups up the energy.

For example in handstand we are balancing on the hands, but how often does a
beginner actively accept the balance at the hands. Most people use their hands as
stable but dead blocks, but one must keep the hands alive and active providing not
only support and balance, but also the lift.

This is similar to utilizing pada bandha in warrior III realizing the essentiality of the
foot bandha (pada bandha) in supporting, balancing, and lifting the entire body. There
the foot grabs/cups the earth and the arch is strengthened and in hasta bandha the
same is done but with the hands instead. The same dynamics that happen in pada
bandha in Warrior III must also happen in handstand with hasta bandha, except that it
happens in the hands rather than the feet. Of course the feet should also be active in
handstand, but here the essential action and balance point is found through the activity
of the hands.

"... in hasta bandha the weight of the body has to be shifted from the wrists ... to
the central bones of the palms .... Then the center of the palms are sucked
upward in the same way as in pada bandha, thus trapping the energy in the
typical arch construction, and sending it upward through the arm and shoulder
joints. The fingers are kept long, and flat on the earth and they root together with the
wrists, forming the rim of the cyclone or bandha. This corresponds to in the action of
pada bandha, where the toes are elongated on the earth and root together with the heel
bones."

Pg 44. "Dancing the Body of Light", Dona Holleman and Orit Sen-Gupta, Pegasus,
1999.

Likewise one can find similar energy valves throughout the body. Here we will
discuss only a few that may be specially useful for meditation and/or asana practices.
Let it be noted that the bandhas as energy locks are meant to be utilized with
pranayama, asana, pratyhara, and visualization (dharana) in advanced hatha yoga
practices called mudras. Such mudras, bandhas, pratyhara, and pranayama, and asana
can also occur spontaneously as the activity of shakti (kriya shakti).

Jivha Bandha and the Talu Chakra


This is the placement of the tongue on to the front top of the hard palate at the
juncture with the teeth (the tip of the tongue actually touches the front teeth. In some
schools, just the tip touches, in other schools the front hollow of the tongue also
touches the hard palate, while in other schools the tongue is curved slightly backward
toward the soft palate. This is a common bandha used to seal any
dissipation/distraction of energy from the ajna chakra region and above. Like
jalandhara bandha it connects the throat chakra with the head, but more
specifically the talu chakra near the root of the tongue near the back brain and
the ajna chakra (3rd eye) region.

Relax the neck, throat, cheeks, jaw, back-brain area, bottom of the brain and the
forehead (and all inbetween). This serves the pathway function of the kurma nadi.

Cautions: Do not use hard physical pressure, rather RELAX the physical tongue and
especially the root. Instead of a physical touch at the upper palate, attempt to
energetically "Sense" and "touch" the top of the palate while establishing this
connection..

Discussion: Jivha bandha practice, although similar, should not be confused with
khechari mudra where the elongated physical tongue is brought back behind the soft
palate, behind the uvula, and up behind the backside of the nares (effecting alternate
swara closure by the tongue) and then ultimately up to the space behind the the
eyebrows. This physical or coarse form indeed bestows the energetic positive after
effects of Jivha Bandha, it is the great seal or king of the mudras extolled by the yogis.
The Jivha bandha as an energy lock as in the inner (antar) practice of khechari,
preventing the wavering of the dualistic mind, just as the gross form where the
physical tongue blocks the passage of the ida and pingala psychic nerves (nadis) and
shunts them into sushumna (the central nadi) joining the sahasrara (crown) with the
sushumna, and hence uniting it as one with the physical body effecting energetic and
psychic integration with the eternal divine. Here one rests in divine peace.

The symbolism of khechari mudra is discussed in the mudra section of this book, but
here we will simply discuss jivha bandha as a simple and easily attained position of
the tongue that completes the energy valve from the throat chakra, talu chakra and
upward to the third eye (ajna chakra). This method should remain soft but
conscious. It is used in meditation as well as pranayama in order to help accomplish
this subtle energy connection, while khechari mudra may be considered the big
brother of jivha bandha. Khechari mudra for those so gifted is used in pranayama and
meditation extensively.

Ajna Bandha: the Third eye or Ajna Chakra


Ajna Bandha: Not discussed in the classical hatha yoga literature except as a mudra. It
is the most subtle of all the bandhas moving the distilled energy of all the other
chakras in a fine line into crown (sahasrara). When it is done spontaneously, it is
characterized by the eyes moving up and back into the third eye, the eyelids lightly
quivering, the eyebrows slightly raising, the tongue spontaneously in khechari mudra,
the nostrils lightly flaring, the ears slightly elongating and raising, the condyles at the
back of the neck unwinding, the jaw naturally dropping long. In addition a
spontaneous puckered smile forms on the tightly closed lips and internally there is
perceived a translucent effulgent energy interface at the third eye sometimes
producing a slight external quivering at the forehead region.

In meditation and mudra practice ajna is usually activated lastly after all the other
bandhas are implemented, raising the energy up out of the lower and middle
sushumna, removing any blockages to the crown., and in this way it completes the
siva/shakti circle. It will help in pranayama as to complete the final journey of the
prana after the retention (kumbhaka), both after the inhalation (puraka) and
exhalation (rechaka). It should never be forced, but rather practiced as a cooperation
and allowance for these energy vectors to occur.

Ajna bandha energetically interlocks, inter-connects, and intelligently opens creative


dialogue between the throat chakra, talu chakra, third eye, and sahasrara
permitting the energy to synchronize and flow inward and upward re-forming the
sacred link between creation and creator in effulgent and trans-conceptional embodied
Love. With all the chakras energetically linked and interconnected through the
bandhas the crown and root are re-united, heaven and earth, the groom and bride, the
right and left, spirit and nature, Kether and Malkuth. Here we rest in the healing
eternal waters that bathe and nurture all.

Swadhi Bandha: Swadhistana Chakra


Swadhi bandha is also not discussed in classical hatha yoga treatises. It also utilizes
elements of the pelvis like mulabandha, but differs from mulabandha in that the trans-
integrity operates in a horizontal plane, while mulabandha operates more in front/back
and top/down planes. Swadhi bandha opens the energy in the swadhistana chakra
by balancing and integrating the energy in the middle and upper pelvis, thus it
connects the fire chakra with the earth chakra by opening up the knot at the water
chakra (swadhistana). It opens up the sacrum area in the back, the area below the
navel in front, the sides of the torso between the iliac crest and lower ribs, the space
between the sit bones, and the spaces between the two posterior superior iliac spines
(PSIS) while adjusting the sacro-lumbar junction (L5/S1).

The primary move of swadhi bandha can be described as the circular swiveling in
toward each other of the two iliac crests. This should not be approached as a
compression in that the two iliac crests do not move directly toward each other, but
rather first open out laterally and then curving inward. This action is hinged at the
pubic symphysis as the two sit bones simultaneously widen outward from each other
and posterior while the back of the sacrum is given more space to move between the
two coxal bones (os coxae or innominate bones). So one can also visualize the two
PSIS (posterior superior iliac spines) moving laterally (away from each other) at the
same time.

This movement is often described by some schools of yoga as the two ASIS
(anterior superior iliac spines) moving forward and in toward each other, but I
rather think that this characterization and imagery is not as helpful as the above. It
should be realized more as a spiral curve -- more adequately described so that iliac
crest hinges first outward and then around forward toward the front into the
indentation below the navel also creating space at SI (sacroiliac) joint so that the two
innominate bones of the pelvis move laterally away from the sacrum while the the
sacrum can slide down away from the lumbar providing more support in lengthening
the entire spine without rounding the lower back.

For those whose SI joints are compressed, this motion will appear as an outward
winging out from the iliac crest as well as from the sit bones (ischial tuberosities).
(For an illustration on how the sacrum moves within the pelvic bowl in this manner
see diagram #???. For a diagram on how the two ilea (or rather innominate or coxal
bones) move independently in this manner, see diagram # ???).

For a graphic representation visualize a top down (superior view of the pelvic bowl.
Visualize the half moon shapes of both innominate bones (os coxae) rotating as in an
inward arc toward the center line starting from the sides (the left bowl clockwise and
the right bowl counterclockwise). This motion occurs equally in the pelvic inlet as
well as the pelvic outlet i.e., both at the top of the sacrum and at the sit bones equally.
One could thus say that this is an abduction or decompression of the SI joint. Thus
one may visualize that the two coxal bones (os coxae or innominate) wing out from
the SI joint or abduct in a swirling so that the thighs appear to rotate inwardly (the
front of the knees rotate in toward each other) while the energy is spiraling in to
the swadhistana chakra (hara center) below the navel and in front of the sacrum.
Along these anatomically functional lines it should be noted that the five hip
adductors (adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis
also serve as hip medial rotators as well as hip flexors.

Some asanas can help create this motion through directed actions of the femur in the
hip socket (acetabulum) while directing these torques through the innominate bones
(os coxae). For example while standing the motion of internal rotation of the
hip/femur joint may also help this abduction at the SI joint, hence swadhi bandha is
accentuated. Likewise the external rotation of the hips may compress the SI joint and
reverse the swadhi bandha. Hence when engaged in positions of external hip
rotation it may be wise to maintain swadhi bandha in order not to compress the
SI joint unduly. Similarly adduction of the hips that is effected by such asanas
such as gomukhasana, matsyendrasana, marichiasana, and garudasana (most
adduction in general) as well as internal rotation of the hip joint will tend to help
effect decompression of the SI joint and swadhi bandha widening the two innominate
(coxal) bones at the SI (sacroiliac) joint in back away from the sacrum and thus
allowing the sacrum and coccyx to slide downward (effecting what is sometimes
called counternutation of the sacrum).

Although such hip joint movements can assist in swadhi bandha, as such we are not
speaking about the actual anatomical movement which occurs at the top of the femur
inside the acetabulum (ball and socket joint of the hip joint) as swadhi bandha per se,
but rather by swadhi bandha we are referring to the movement between the two
innominate (coxal) bones in the pelvis proper that is created by the femur as it
leverages the two wings of the pelvis outward -- as it widens the fascia (width
wise) across the back of the sacrum, pelvis, and thigh. In other words such motions
as adduction and internal rotation may help secondarily in aiding this motion at the SI
joint, while poses which normally abduct the hip and create exterior rotation may be
stabilized and prevented from compressing the SI joint through the implementation of
swadhi bandha (widening outward and forward of the iliac crests).

Here as the iliac crests ROTATE toward each other in a anterior (forward)
direction, while the sit bones move away from each while the back of the iliac
crests amy actually move outward (lateral) first and then around toward the
front. This is a spiral motion and no compression or tension in the pelvis is created,
rather the opposite an opening is felt, yet stability is reinforced simultaneously. Both
the pelvic inlet (the top of the pelvic bowl) and the pelvic outlet (the bottom of the
pelvic bowl) actually expand and open simultaneously.

Perhaps it is more valuable way to describe Swadhi bandha is as the movement that
expands the two sit bones and the two PSIS (Posterior Superior Iliac Spine)
points away from the midline allowing the sacrum to sink down off the lumbar
spine, however the front of the two iliac crests may appear to be rotating forward
and inwards toward each other, thus creating space at the back of the pelvis for
the sacrum to drop and thus lengthen from the lumbar spine.

This lateral opening at the back of the pelvis will take any pressure off the
sacrum (at the SI joint). Here we are looking not only for horizontal balance and
synergy at the front top of the pelvis (ASIS) but also at the iliac crests, sit bones, and
pubic bones. When this is explored and learned there is no imbalance at the sacrum
top or bottom, between the pubic bones, sit bones, or iliac crest. The entire front,
back, and top of the pelvis is in synergistic symmetry, equilibrium and alignment.
This creates stability in the pelvis and SI joint necessary for all twists and
asymmetrical asana practice.

In other words when the two ASIS protuberances and iliac crests rotate in toward each
other in front, the two sit bones (ischial tuberosities move away from each other, and
the two PSIS points also move away from each other in back, there then occurs an
intra-pelvic movement between the two pelvic bones which hinge upon the pubic
symphysis in front yet this joint does not proximate, but rather remains distracted or in
traction. Thus in swadhi bandha we can hinge the two iliac crest bones forward and
inward (in a circular motion) through a widening and opening action at the SI joint
where the sit bones move laterally away from each other and simultaneously the pubic
symphysis provides the front hinge without compaction. Thus not only does the SI
joint open, but the trans-integrity of the two pubic bones (rami), the two sit bones (the
bottom of the ischium at the ischial tuberosity), the two PSIS bones (at the back of the
pelvis), the sacrum, tailbone, and iliac crests all move in a characteristic balance,
alignment which eliminates stress and creates synergy and flow in the pelvic girdle.
The hinge that occurs at the pubic symphysis brings the energy into the lower belly
(ovary/prostate/hara region) or swadhistana chakra preventing dissipation. This is
swadhi bandha.

Here we go for the balance and energy flow using any or all of these anatomic
parts (ASIS, iliac crests, pubic bone, sit bones, PSIS) as landmarks so that the
entire pelvic bowl (consisting of the pelvic inlet and outlet) and all their connective
tissue, fascia, glands, organs, and nerves are able to release any stress or tension from
its wavelike spiral motion. As discussed in the earlier chapters even the action of the
humerus can exert many vectors upon the pelvis (for example through the action of
the latissimus dorsi which attaches from the arm to the pelvis), so here we can learn to
utilize all these inter-relationships with the sacrum synergistically especially in
standing poses but as well as in arm movements. At the same time this awareness
allows us to intuitively evaluate the correct placement of the legs and arms -- our
overall stance in life in relationship to its effects on mula and swadhi bandha.

Hint: Continue to move so that the coccyx continues to move forward while the
sacrum is able to slide downward (counternutation of the sacrum) creating an
awareness of the spine lengthening by opening the two iliac crests away from the
midline, while simultaneously separating the two sit bones and PSIS in back. Pay
attention to the top and bottom of sacrum so that balance is achieved at the
sacrum without tilting/distorting it in relationship to the spine. This movement
should allow the tailbone to elongate, drop, and move freely. Do this all
consciously (with sensitivity and awareness) and by all means do not create stress.
Perform mulabandha first.

Benefits: Like mulabandha, many of us may be tight, insensitive, or immobile in this


region at first and it will only be through constant practice and awareness that these
directions will gel making creating a subjective/objective living integration. Like all
the rest of the bandhas, first establish mulabandha, then find the synergistic
relationship between these two bandhas and the energy flow between their
corresponding chakras and the spine. In hip flexion, this movement is very helpful
in situations where the hamstrings are tight (as they attach to the sit bones) and thus
are pulling them together. Also on forward bends and adduction this also helps loosen
tight gluteals, tight abductor, and tight external rotators. Conversely swadhi bandha
helps in preventing stress at the SI joint in severe abduction and external rotation. It is
helpful in many poses but especially in standing contra-lateral poses such as warrior
(virabhadrasana), parsovottanasana, prariivrtta trikonasana, and similar. It works
similarly in ek pada kapotasana (one footed pigeon), marichiasana, and the like. In
urdva dhanurasana (chakrasana), setu bandhuasana (bridge), purvattoasana (east
facing pose) and the like, swadhi bandha (as SI pelvic abduction) helps prevent excess
lateral rotation of the hip and compression at the SI joint, while in other back bends, it
helps prevent the pelvis from hiking (at the iliac crest), compression at the SI joint,
and the sacrum from rising toward the lumbar maintaining healthy space between the
lumbar disks -- in short it helps stabilize the pelvis when used with mulabandha.

The motion of swadhi bandha is specific for opening up, alleviating compression, and
widening at the SI joint specifically but helps also in alleviating stress on the back,
stretching the hamstrings, abductors, and especially the deep muscles (lateral rotators)
of the pelvis. It opens up the pelvic inlet and outlet. It helps move the energy through
the water (swadhistana) chakra preventing outward dissipation. It helps stretch tight
abductor muscles and strengthen adductors. Swadhi bandha helps tonify the sacrum,
the ureters, bladder, genitals, hara, and swadhistana chakra. Its tonifying effect aids in
losing lower abdomen atony and fat.

Tightness at the upper pelvis and lower torso is relieved, more fire is created in the
manipura chakra increasing gastric fire, the benefits of twists (such as matsyendrasana
and marichiasana) are greatly accentuated.

Cautions: Consult a yoga therapist or avoid if the SI (sacroiliac) joint is unstable


or the ligaments are overly loose. As swadhi bandha helps to create space at the
SI joint, those who have overly loose ligaments in that area due to past injuries or
genetic factors do not need this motion. Also avoid tension or proximation at the
pubic symphysis, but rather traction so that flow and balance occurs also in front
at the pubic bone. The movement at the pelvis should mobilize the sacrum -- create
more space for the sacrum to independently move at the SI joint in a natural sliding
motion. Especially when working in asana the motion of the sacrum should be inward
and supportive both in forward and backward bends. The distance between the iliac
crest and the back ribs should stay long -- ditto for the sacrum and the lumbar spine.
One should not overly concentrate on swadhi bandha as a correct mulabandha
will take care of the entire pelvis. This is a bandha that corrects commonly found
displacements in the hips, pelvis, and SI joint and helps to prevent injury.

Nabhi Bandha: The Hara Region


Nabhi bandha is also not discussed in detail in classical hatha yoga traditions. It is
similar to uddiyana only in that it focuses similarly upon the region near the navel,
however nabhi bandha uniquely focuses four finger widths below it (half way
between the swadhistana and the manipura). In nabhi bandha the upper part of
the abdomen is not drawn in, but just the area below the navel.
Thus it can be described physically as the pulling in and back in the area of the
abdomen below the navel, energizing and purifying the upper part of the water
chakra and the lower part of the fire chakra -- as such it is the liquid fire center.
Although it can be performed in a physical, gross, coarse, and external manner
utilizing muscles, it also is best seen as a subtle and internal energetic process
where fire and energy is gathered together, stored, and then distributed to the
rest of the nadis (psychic centers). This is the region of the lower dan dien (tan
tien) or hara in Chinese and Japanese yoga systems.

Procedure: It can be learned at first through its physical gross form by first
implementing mula bandha and a light/subtle uddiyana bandha creating a lift in the
torso and the spine up off the pelvis. Then allow the lower abdomen below the navel
to move straight backwards toward the spine energizing the lower tan tien (hara). It
can be performed subtly like this throughout the day during walking, sitting, asana,
pranayama, mudra or meditation. It can also be done quickly like agni sara kriya (in
and out motions), but with the lower abdomen only. This is called nabhi kriya.

Also nabhi bandha differs from agni sara and uddiyana bandha, as it is more
stimulating when done with internal kumbhaka and reverse breath. Try nabhi
bandha as a subtle adjunct to swadhi bandha while simultaneously activating
mulabandha, uddiyana bandha, and vajroli mudra. Such an internal practice
synchronized after the incoming breath will move the energy through the lower
chakras. This bandha is especially useful in what is called bottle or vase breathing.

In the physical practice all the skin and fascia below the navel moves toward the
spine, but the pelvis, chest, and back do not move. Keep the scapula down toward the
sacrum and armpit chest rotated in its open and lifted position. This is the same breath
and bandha that we do with proper vase breathing. (See the chapter on pranayama)

Like uddiyana bandha, a proper mulabandha is necessary for an effective nabhi


bandha. The pelvis is neither in retroversion nor anteversion, but rather in trans-
integrity. In another sense nabhi bandha can be said to be a continuation of mula
and swadhi bandha as it dynamically occurs between the pelvis and the navel.
Although we say that nabhi bandha is found in trans-integrity of the pelvis, it is at first
most easily accessed and most pronounced during posterior tilts of the pelvis
(retroversion) with the torso fixed. One asana which will quickly give the reader a felt
sense of nabhi bandha would be to first lay on your back preparing for bridge pose
(setubandhu asana). Then retrovert the pelvis tucking the tailbone under and up
toward the pubic bone.The concavity in the bladder region so formed, mirrors the
physical configuration of nabhi bandha.
Benefits: One can imagine that with the combined effects of mulabandha and swadhi
bandha the lower energies are harmonized activated, concentrated . and
compounded below and behind the navel with great intensity . It creates energy
and heat at the lower belly (tan tien in Chinese and hara in Japanese). Nabhi bandha
stimulates, purifies, and balances the first three chakras especially balancing the
apana and prana. It is especially able to cure diseases of apana deficiency when
combined with effective mula, swadhi, and uddiyana bandhas. It is a specific tonic
for the water/fire region and especially so for the prostate/ovaries, adrenals,
assimilation (lower small intestines) , upper lumbar, and kidneys.

Like the other asanas and bandhas nabhi is most effective for those suffering from
specific imbalances such as excessive lordosis (swayback), tightness of the groins,
lack of hip extension, weak hip extensors, tight hip flexors, obesity, constipation,,
weak iliopsoas, tight quadratus lumborum, lack of energy, lower back problems, and
other maladies of that specific region.

As an energy lock, nabhi bandha can be implemented all the time, but it is most
actively implemented physically at the end of uddiyana bandha (at the end of a
full exhalation). After that is mastered, then advanced practitioners can actively
implement nabhi bandha after a full inhalation (like uddiyana bandha) to top off
an antar kumbhaka.

More commonly Nabhi bandha helps expel all the air out of the lungs when
implemented at the end of exhalation (after uddiyana bandha). Also utilizing nabhi
bandha (especially at the end of the inhalation) helps move the heart forward and
upward -- raising even the apex of the lungs, lengthening the spine, and providing the
action of compounding, churning, and compaction of the inner heat that melts the
hardness of the mind (such in the advanced practices of pranayama, tummo heat, and
mudras, utilizing vase breathing (see the chapter on pranayama and mudras for more).

Caution: Avoid any tension/tightness in the hara. Use nabhi bandha to soften the
deep fascia of the lower abdomen, and remove hardness. Do not allow nabhi
bandha to restrict the movement of the thoracic and thus not restrict the depth of
the incoming air. Rather allow the air and movement to completely penetrate all
the way into the muladhara even more so by the application of nabhi bandha.

Realize that when the breath and prana is coursing deeply through the
body/mind nabhi bandha happens by naturally itself, through grace. Thus it is
not necessary to consciously implement, nor should one strive to hold it. However as
an intentional conscious practice, when we explore and investigate the energy of
this bandha in asana, meditation, pranayama, mudra, and the like, we find that we can
also help alleviate obstruction, obscuration, energy stagnation, tension, imbalance,
while not only allowing the energy to freely move but also augment distant energy
centers as well as our overall energy, balance, and alignment.

Hri Bandha: Heart Chakra


This is the same motion described so much in asana practice to open the arm pit chest
complex and shoulder girdle while "raising the area of the back behind the kidneys
(raise the kidneys). It is a necessary motion for the facilitation of jalandhara bandha
(in order for the chin can rest upon the sternal notch the sternum/chest must raise to
meet it). It appears complicated to the intellect because it utilizes the rib attachments
both in front at the sternum and in back at the transverse processes in back
simultaneously. Since the ribs are connected with the back, neck, pelvis, and skull
either directly or through connective tissue (fascia) much is involved both in front and
in back, up and down, and laterally as well. For example the quadratus lumborum
attaches to the lower ribs and the pelvis. Thus implementing both mulabandha and hri
bandha simultaneously will stretch the QL as well as many other muscles of the back,
thus maintaining length, integrity, and space both front and back and to the sides of
the lower trunk. .

Hri bandha involves the oft times obscure internal relationship between the
sternum, ribs, spine, collarbones, scapula, humerus, pelvis, trochanter, and skull.
In order for this area centered at the heart to open energetically from the inside
out in all directions., the lower bandhas first have to be engaged and stable.

Hri meaning heart or core is the heart of the heart and ultimately refers to the
transpersonal heart of all hearts or central axis of the universe associated with the
deepest interconnection of the sahasrara chakra which cannot be described by the
author. But here in the human heart area our feelings and/or our ability to feel or
fear of feeling come into contact with the sea of our emotions as well as our ability to
express our feelings. It is here that we feebly and dysfunctionally try to hide from
our pain and fears. Conversely, hri bandha reverses this energetic close down of the
anahata chakra (feeling center).

Paradoxically some call the upper part of Hri Bandha, banker's pose, because of the
stereotype of the banker sticking his thumbs up and under the arm pits moving the
armpit chest forward and up in a spiral movement while the scapula sinks. Richard
Freeman is fond to remind us that banker's pose is open 24/7 -- all the time.

Moving the center of the sternum forward; the lower ribs and navel point down and
back (nabhi and uddiyana bandha) while the floating ribs spiral back toward the spine
(in front) and upwards (in back) which is called "raise the kidneys". The entire rib
cage opens up, expands and raises off the pelvis both in front and back.

Thus the front upper most ribs, collarbone, and top shoulder points tilt/spiral up,
around, back, and back down in a spiral motion; the top of the scapula moves caudad,
the bottom of the scapula pressing anterior (toward the sternum) and slightly up, the
medial sides of the scapula abduct and separate from each other (but not protract)
while moving anterior, the center of the armpits rotate up, around, and back, the
collarbone widening and lifting (usually with in-breath). This motion is very difficult
to visualize utilizing the three plane model, but it can be strongly felt with grace and
gratitude. (See illustration number ???)

Practice: Stand in mountain pose with palms together at the chest. From the bottom
up implement mulabandha and a light uddiyana bandha. Spiral the front floating
ribs toward the back and raise the points behind the kidneys in back. while
simultaneously lifting the entire chest and rib cage up off the pelvis (maintaining
mulabandha). This will create space in the abdomen. Allow the entire ribcage to
expand and lift while the center of the sternum moves forward and simultaneously
the armpits spiral from the front, upward, and around toward the back (appearing
counterclockwise if viewed from the right side or clockwise if viewed from the left
side).

Keep the center of the ears over the center of the thoracic cage and engage
jalandhara bandha.

Visualize the heart expanding and spiraling forward -- energetically as a


chakra/circle in all directions while you visualize interlocking the heart energy with
the lower chakras below and the throat chakra, ajna, and sahasrara chakras above, thus
connecting the manipura, swadhistana, and muladhara below with the upper chakras
through the heart center. Move with full feeling from this sensitive center in all
your relations. Never let it close down . This movement is essential for backward
bends of the torso, relieving congestion of the heart, relieving fear and anger,
expressing feelings, alleviating pulmonary congestion, certain digestive disturbances,
shoulder, neck ,and upper back problems, and other endemic problems of this region.

Benefits: Hri bandha opens the heart chakra and thoracic region connecting the throat
(akasha) with the belly (fire) through the air channel (anahata). It
accomplishes/completes jalandhara bandha by allowing it to be fully activated --
as the chin approaches the sternal notch, the sternal notch raises to meet the chin. This
is the motion that opens the chest, lungs, diaphragm, alleviates stress on the abdomen,
remediates kyphosis, and accomplishes/completes upper backward bends (back
extension) for example as in raj kapotasana (king pigeon), full locust (salabhasana),
matsyasana, urdva-dhanurasana, etc. It allows us to stay in touch with our deepest
feelings (anahata chakra), opens our heart, allows us to cope with sadness and
depression, counteracts sunken chest, depression, down trodden and burdensome
feelings, cowering, fear in general, low self esteem, obsequiousness, and so forth. Hri
bandha is very useful in abdominal, lung, chest, neck, throat, and shoulder
complaints.

Cautions: People with military chest or over extended thoracic curves (rare),
scoliosis, or flat backs should consult a yoga therapist.

Conclusion: Paramanandabandha
Many more bandhas exist as well. These all can be seen as configurations assembled
for the purpose of moving energy through the overall system and/or specific sub-
systems at crucial junctures such as sluices, valves, and such. As such they are closely
aligned with mudras, except that hatha yoga mudras combine asana, pranayama,
bandha, and visualization all together (See chapter on mudras).

All the bandhas have an energetic aspect which is causal/precursory to the


physical. Knowing what comes first, we are able to merge the annamaya kosha
(physical body) with the energy body (pranamaya kosha). Thus an energetic
practice entertains both the physical and the mental. A joyful practice embraces
it. The mind also rides the horse of the wind (prana) as nothing can move without
energetic direction. Thus the practice that focuses on awareness, breath, and
energy emotes (creates the bhava) the remedial wavelike motion that stills the
multiplit mind patterns-- bhavas of BHAVA -- light of LIGHT; so that the great
Light of Universal Infinite can blaze forth burning up all adhi/vyadhi, karma, klesha,
samskara, and vasana-- instantaneous flash of grace. We offer this burnt offering upon
shakti's healing altar.

Bandhas by binding the external dissipating flow of energy, binds the outflowing
of mental wanderings of attention (or the ordinary discursive mind). This is not a
repression of the mind nor the vital energy, but rather the activation of the vital non-
dissipative energy which reactivates repressed instinct, rekindles the intuition and
inner wisdom, activates the dormant circuitries and evolutionary wisdom centers of
the natural spontaneous all encompassing and non-distractive transpersonal non-dual
mind. In one sense, the ordinary mind rides upon the wind of the energy vectors (and
is thus considered distracted and dissipated because it has been brought outside of its
core/heart center and into a dualistic objectified and sterile materialistic world. Yet at
the same time, this ordinary mind can be trained to direct the energy, focus and
concentrate it through pratyhara, pranayama, dharana, and meditation of which
the bandhas are the physical representation. Thus it is a two way street where
the energy moves, so does the mind and likewise where the mind and attention
moves so does the energy. Here the practice of bandha with pranayama over a period
of time is very effective in revealing these subtle interrelationships and thus from this
wisdom allowing us to attain conscious freedom from such vrttis (disturbances) of
consciousness (citta). This is why it is emphasized that bandha practice as well as
pranayama practice should never be reduced to a mechanical science, but rather as an
awareness art -- a further exploration of swadhyaya and consciousness answering the
question: "who am I, what is life, what is reality, what is consciousness?"

If a partnership or meeting of mind and energy (cit prana or cit shakti) becomes united
-- inextricably bound together -- they reach through wisdom and method across the
ocean of suffering. Thus the practitioner does not try to master or control the winds,
nor does the practitioner become victim of the winds. Rather the authentic student
observes the winds through investigating them through pranayama, bandha, asana,
and mudra and then is instructed by the nature of prana (prana shakti) and follows this
to its limitless Source.

Thus the manomaya kosha aligns up with the pranamaya and annamaya koshas, and
they in turn destroy the veil of limiting beliefs and false identifications (of the
vijnanamaya kosha) completely. The single ambrosial taste of that exquisite alignment
meshes with the anandamaya kosha to produce the one taste of bliss. The Great All
Inclusive Yantra is enjoined together/completed.

All aligned, inner and outer -- and bound together in one ecstatic prayer dance. The
body and mind is part of the Great Yantra -- they complete it. Here the inner
constellations align up, they mesh with the outer constellations. One day exquisite
balance -- synchronicity -- is achieved, neither inner nor outer -- rather non-dual --
The energy residing in the central channel (sushumna) - weightless -- burdenless
devoid of sorrow -- Rainbow hued Mandala -- Rainbow body vision!Oh Greatest
Bandha beyond the bliss -- Oh Paramananda Bandha -- The front and the back, left
and right, top/bottom -- All Directions/Noh Directions -- at the Cross Roads of Love
-- at the Hridayam -- the Great Binding of Hearts within the HEART! All Our
Relations! All Life is inexorably bound together! Ho! It is Sacred!

Jai Bhagawan!

Back to Top
Back to Hatha Yoga Portal

Back to HeartMind Home

Bhakti Bandhas: The Bandhas as Opening the Flood Gates of Divine Love

Hatha Yoga Kriyas (Portal to many articles on the cleansing activities of hatha yoga)

Sat Karmas, and Cleansing activities (a large article on the most common kriyas).

Article Specifically on general Hatha Yoga practices

Beginners Hints on Hatha Asana Practice

Article on All Types of Yoga in General

Various Types of Teachings and Teachers and How to Find Our Inner Teacher (large article)

Chakra Purification Exercise

Chakra and Energy Healing including a discussion of the adhi/vyadh

Pranayama Practice (under construction)

Mudra Practice (under construction)

Asana Practice (under construction)


http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/583?print=1

From the Ground Up


Getting to know the mechanics of your feet and the pivotal role they play in yoga is the first step
to establishing a solid foundation in your practice.

By Tias Little

In the yoga tradition, the lowly foot paradoxically has an almost


transcendent status. Students touch or kiss the feet of beloved teachers as
an act of reverence. Similarly, the first phrase of the Ashtanga Vinyasa
Yoga invocation, vande gurunam charanaravinde ("I honor the lotus-
flower feet of all the gurus"), acknowledges that yoga teachings have
stepped down through time on the feet of the learned ones.

This veneration of the foot reflects its importance as the foundation of


the temple of the body. Just as the foundation of a temple must be level
to support all the structures above, so the feet must be balanced and
sturdy to support the legs, spine, arms, and head. If our base is tilted or
collapsed, it will be reflected up through the body as distortion or
misalignment. As Ida Rolf, the renowned bodyworker and founder of Structural Integration (aka
Rolfing), pointed out, "A man's tracks tell quite a true story. They inform quietly about ankles
and knees, but they shout the news about hips and pelvis. If one foot is consistently everted
[tilted onto its inner edge], the ankle, the knee, or, perhaps more likely, the entire pelvic basin is
rotated."

But our feet aren't just foundations. Unlike the stones that underlie a temple site, our feet are not
static. Our bodies are mobile temples, and our feet are required to be flexible and adjustable. At
the same time that they must be firm stabilizers, the feet are also wheels for the vehicle of the
body. Like tires on a car, when balanced and true, the feet provide a smooth ride, one without
disturbance or jarring. But when the foot collapses or distorts, the strain travels up into the hip
joints or lower back, and a strong pull or torque may develop, side to side or back to front.

Many people end up standing and walking for a lifetime on feet that have fallen or weakened
arches. This is akin to driving on semi-flat tires. Walking on "flat tire" feet leads to compression
in the axle joints (ankles), strain on the drive shaft (the spine), a collapsed and painful posture—
and low gas mileage!

The best way to check whether the "tires" of your body are true and balanced is to check
your treads. Look at the soles of your shoes. Does the inside or the outside of your heel wear
down? If there is excessive wear on one side, the foot is shifted off its central axis, likely
putting strain on the knee, hip, or lower back. When students consult with me about knee or
sacroiliac pain, I often look to their feet for the origins of the distortion.

The balanced wheel as a metaphor for proper posture and pleasant experience dates back to
ancient Sanskrit. In the Yoga Sutra, one of the two qualities Patanjali directs practitioners to
develop in asana is sukha. Usually translated as "ease," the word literally means "good space"
and once referred to the hub of a chariot wheel that was perfectly tuned and rolled smoothly.
Duhkha ("bad space" and, by extension, "suffering") is when the wheel hub is lopsided and the
wheel has a hitch each time it turns. In hatha yoga, when the body is light and spacious, there is
sukha; when the body is distorted and hurting, there is duhkha. I often encourage students to
"pump up" the arches of their feet, creating inner arches that have "good space" between the
bones and the floor.

Stand Like a Mountain


In hatha yoga, standing poses are the primary tools for building this "good space" and
stability in the feet, thereby energizing the legs to support proper posture. So it's no surprise
that the best known approaches to hatha yoga—including Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Vinyasa
Yoga, and Bikram Yoga—use standing poses as their starting place. Standing with equilibrium is
the first posture in all these systems. Whether it's referred to as Tadasana (Mountain Pose) or
Samastithi (Equal Standing), this pose is the foundation for all the postures because the
neutral standing position teaches us to be fully upright, connected to the ground yet reaching out
and up toward the sky.

The ease of our upright posture is determined mainly by alignment of the feet and, more
specifically, by "equal standing" through the inner and outer side of each ankle joint. In people
who have fallen arches or, as they are commonly called, flat feet, the lack of arch support causes
the inner ankle bone (the base of the tibia) to collapse in and down. Once the inner ankle drops,
the inner groin at the top of the inner leg often also collapses. In turn, the weakness of the inner
thighs leaves the lower back vulnerable to compression.

Students who tend toward flat feet may at first experience a great deal of difficulty in waking up
the feet and lifting the arches in standing poses. I know how difficult it can be to learn to do this,
so to help my students I often give them both guided imagery and anatomical information.

For students familiar with Mula Bandha (Root Lock), I suggest they think of the lift of the arch
as a "Pada Bandha" (pada means "foot" in Sanskrit). Although bandha is usually translated as
"lock," it also implies a "binding" or "harness" that can be used to draw energy upward. In Mula
Bandha, this is done by engaging the muscles of the pelvic floor and contracting them up, much
like Kegel exercises practiced during pregnancy to create strength and elasticity prior to labor.
But although a lifted arch feels similar to the lift of the pelvic floor in Mula Bandha, the
mechanism of the lift is different.

The complex design of the foot does not allow us to accomplish Pada Bandha simply with a
voluntary muscular lift. Instead, the key to creating strong arches is to extend the foot,
stretching and making space in the skin and in the muscles and connective tissues that join the
26 bones of each foot. To create malleability in the foot, we begin by stretching it lengthwise
and extending it out laterally. By making the foot more elastic, we build an effective
trampoline that springs the weight of the body upward.

To build this trampoline-like resiliency in the foot, we need to fully release and press our
weight into the bones that strike the ground when we stand and walk. The heel bone is
designed to root downward. By plugging down the front of the heel, the root of the little toe,
and the root of the big toe, we create a triangular base that vaults the inner arch of the foot
upward. In all standing postures in yoga, these complementary forces of descending weight and
rebound are at work.

Wake Up Your Legs


With all this information in mind, let's explore lifting the arches in Samastithi. Balancing the
weight evenly through the feet in this pose demands the subtlety of a watchmaker and the
rootedness of a redwood tree. Stand with your feet parallel to each other and hip width apart. To
make sure that you are on the center of your heel bones and not riding your inner or outer heels,
lift one heel at a time and carefully reset it. Try not to rest your weight back on your heels;
instead, pitch it slightly forward to the front of the heel bone, aligning the center of your pelvis
and the center of your cranium over the heel bones.

As you press down into the anterior heel, elongate your toes by grounding forward into the ball
of the foot, especially at the base of the big toe and the base of the little toe. This action forms a
triangular base for the foot and stretches the sole, much like stretching a skin to make the head of
a drum. As a drumhead must be stretched equally and with full extension in all directions to
create good resonance, the sole must also be fully stretched.

To fully "pump up" your arches, you also need to lift the muscles of the lower leg that attach to
the arch. Probably the most important of these is the tibialis anterior, which runs along the outer
edge of the shinbone, crosses to the inner front shin above the ankle, and attaches near the base
of the big toe. Combined with the lift of the other lower leg muscles, activating the tibialis
anterior is like pulling on a tightly fitted riding boot. This sensation of lift travels from your
inner arch along your outer shin up to the knee and then up the inner thigh, all the way up into
the pelvic floor. With all this muscular activity, you need to take care to keep your toes lightly
extended, instead of clenching them against the floor or flexing them up toward the ceiling.

Discover Your Foot Foes


Don't be surprised if lifting the arches doesn't come easily. It takes time to retrain the body, and
along with building new strength, you may need to undo many years of physical and
psychological tension. For one thing, confining footwear can lead to tense and foreshortened
feet. Living in New Mexico, I encounter students who torture their feet with cowboy boots all
day and then compound the crime with high heels at night. Other common foot foes are ski
boots, cleats, ballet point shoes, and rock-climbing shoes. Constrictive footwear limits the blood
flowing in and out of the foot and cramps the bones of the feet together, resulting in compacted
and clenched musculature not just in the foot but also on up the body.

In earlier times people usually walked barefoot or in footwear less reinforcing to the foot than
modern shoes. They also had to walk on much more uneven surfaces than concrete. These
conditions demanded that the foot be responsive: agile, adjustable, and articulate. In addition, the
microadjustments required of the foot when walking on uneven terrain promoted small
movements in the pelvis and spine that led to a pliability throughout the body.

Today, as people spend much more time sitting than walking and urban walking subjects us to
unvaried, hard surfaces, the small bones and ligaments in the foot are limited in their range of
motion. Walking on predictable, hard surfaces typically results in a clumping effect: The feet,
ankles, and lower back become solid and fixed instead of sensitive and minutely adjustable. This
rigidity and often painful foreshortening, especially in the back of our bodies, leave the feet,
pelvis, and lower back immobile and vulnerable to displacement.

Along with these physical challenges, emotional pain and psychological tension can become
embedded in our feet. These patterns of distortion that lead to instability often start when we are
very young. For instance, if we feel early in our lives that our environment does not support us
fully or that it is too burdensome, our feet may literally give in and collapse. Or if we resist our
early environment, feeling driven to run and escape, our foot and leg muscles can become
hypertonic, constantly full of tension.

Warm Up Your Feet


To counteract years of tension, some preliminary exercises can help your feet come alive and
respond more readily to the demands of standing poses. One good way to restore proper tone
to the sole of the foot is to step onto a tennis ball. After waking up your feet with the tennis
ball, it's a good idea to stretch both the sole and the top of the foot. A simple way to stretch the
underside of the foot is to kneel with the toes turned under. To stretch the top of the foot,
Virasana (Hero Pose) is invaluable.

After these warm-ups, it can be interesting to return to Samastithi to see how your pose has
changed. Can you feel the distribution of your weight with more sensitivity now? Do you find it
any easier to lift your arches and create Pada Bandha? Are you more able to sense how this
action reflects up through your body?

From Samastithi, you can begin to explore other standing poses. In yoga practice, much time is
devoted to releasing the back of our bodies, from the feet up through the calves, hamstrings,
buttocks, and along the spine to the base of the skull. In the first years of practice, the focus is
primarily on forward bends, both standing and seated, that free up the muscular, emotional, and
psychological blocks that become embedded in the back body.

In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, for example, the Primary Series is called yoga chikitsa (yoga
therapy) and consists mostly of forward bends to release the back body. Commonly, the back
body holds much of the charge of our personal history; literally, we store past stress and anxiety
behind us. Falsely assuming that what is out of sight is out of mind, we end up with a back body
full of tension: tight, unresponsive lower calves, hamstrings, lower back, shoulder blade area,
and neck.

A forward bend like Prasarita Padottanasana (Widespread Standing Forward Bend)


elongates and gradually breaks apart the accumulated tension in the back body, making available
an abundance of previously "shorted-out" energy. If the sole of the foot is elastic and open in
forward bends like this one, it can initiate a free flow of energy up the back of the legs, down the
spine, and out the back of the head.

In fact, though we may seldom think of them in this way, the soles of the feet are the beginning
of the back of the body. In four-legged animals—the dog, for instance—the anatomical
equivalent of our heel sits well up the hind portion of the leg. The equivalent of our sole faces
back, and the weight of its body is pitched up onto its toes. This arrangement allows tremendous
spring in a dog's limbs. If we were to imitate the dog, we would have to lurch up onto the base of
our toes and elevate our heels. Other four-legged beings, such as the horse or the deer, are
similarly pitched up onto their toes (hooves), with their "heels" elevated off the ground. Through
the years of evolutionary change leading up to bipedalism, the heel descended and the rear lower
limb became a planted foot.

We can apply this insight in all standing forward bends. Consider the position of the legs in
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), for instance. Students frequently moan that
their heels will never lower in Downward Dog and wish fervently for longer Achilles tendons
and calf muscles. But they often don't recognize that this stretch begins on the plantar surface
(sole) of the foot. Since the plantar fascia (connective tissue) connects with the Achilles through
fibrous bands that run under the heel, lengthening the plantar muscles and fascia is crucial to
downward extension of the heel.

Chakras in Your Feet


Every so often, it's a good idea to make your feet your primary focus through a whole yoga
practice. Almost every yoga pose engages the feet and reflects their actions up through the body
in a slightly different way. In Trikonasana (Triangle Pose, for example, the work of the foot
needs to be slightly different than in either Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) or Adho Mukha
Svanasana: The top of the forward foot must stretch much as in Virasana, while you also need to
be careful to distribute your weight evenly on that foot, instead of having all the weight bear on
the back of the heel.

But, in general, once you cultivate mobility and support in your foot—that is, once Pada
Bandha is active—you engage the foot this way throughout almost all postures. In forward
bends, twists, and backbends—even in inversions when the feet are both extending into space—
you sustain the same lifting action to pull life force in through the feet. Without Pada Bandha,
the thighs, hips, and low back lose the intelligence they need to stay active.

As Pada Bandha supports elevation in the ankles, knees, and inner groins, it also supports the lift
of the pelvic floor known as Mula Bandha. Although the first chakra of the torso, located at the
perineum in the pelvic floor, is traditionally called Muladhara (Root) Chakra, our feet provide
even deeper stabilizing root support for the upward moving trunks of our legs. In a sense, we
have two root supports, one located in the center of each foot, like a healthy tree in which the
root system bifurcates as it descends.

I often teach that the soles of the feet and the pelvic floor mirror each other. Elasticity and
postural tone in the feet help determine tone in the pelvic floor. Especially as we age and the
weight of the internal organs draws them down inside the abdominal compartment, building
good tone and lift in the feet helps tone the perineal muscles and prevent gravity from getting the
best of us.

Along with asana practice, we can take many simple lifestyle steps to improve the mobility
and strength of our feet. Inside our homes, it is valuable to walk barefoot whenever possible.
Both for the sake of a clean house and to develop a greater feel for the surfaces under our feet, it
is a good practice to leave shoes at the door. This Indian custom also draws an important
boundary between the impersonal traffic of the street and the intimacy of home life. When
barefoot at home, we can incorporate all sorts of foot yoga into our daily routines. I often
encourage students to practice lifting their arches and spreading their toes in the kitchen while
waiting for their morning toast to pop or their tea water to boil.

When people begin yoga, it is common for them to discover they have lost connection with their
feet. When I teach mechanics of the foot in class and have students stand so we can observe their
feet, they often become skittish and embarrassed. And I've frequently heard someone say, "I hate
the way my feet look." For many, their feet seem at the opposite end of their universe; no wonder
they feel foreign!

The practice of yoga postures can transform our relationship with our feet. Practicing barefoot,
we develop greater feel for the ground below. As we become more intimate with our feet, they
also become stronger and more mobile. Most yoga students can testify that their feet grow in
length over the course of a sustained practice. When we begin yoga, we have little idea how
confined and restrained our feet have been over the years. Distorted feet can have a negative
emotional impact on the body; as Ida Rolf observed, "The psychological effect of foot problems
of all kinds is remarkably consistent: a deep, unconscious feeling of insecurity." But healthy feet
have just the opposite effect. Enhanced poise through the feet leads to a sense of stability and
rootedness, so important in the unforgiving pace of today's culture.

As we free up our feet, we tap into a reservoir of potential energy. It is as if we are standing
on wellsprings of life force that have been blocked by years of constrictive footwear, lack of
use, and inhibition. We may be required to do a fair amount of "mining," breaking through the
calcified crystals that can form in impacted connective tissues in our feet. But this mining pays
off eventually by uncovering sources of energy that can keep us vital and fluid through years of
practice.

Tias Little lives and teaches in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He directs the YogaSource studio
there and travels throughout the United States leading Anatomy for Yoga workshops. He
can be reached through www.yogasource-santafe.com.

Return to http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/583
http://www.rainbowbody.net/Hathayoga/Swarayog.htm

Swara Yoga References

The Sanskrit word, swara, has many definitions and applications. In yoga, briefly stated, swara
pertains to the recognition of rhythm, pulsation, or wave of the universe tracing these wave
forms and patterns back to their source. Hence Swara Yoga discloses and informs us about both
the music of the Celestial spheres, but also all of creation, right down to our daily activities. .As
such it concerns itself with the subtle (and mostly invisible) finer forces which underlie the
contraction and expansion of the entire universe including the human body in all its aspects
(prana or winds (vayus) as well as thought processes..

Swara Yoga is an ancient spiritual science that deals with the various qualities of the flow of
Prana (the source of the life force) in the universe and as such in the body and mind. This Prana
Shakti (evolutionary energy) emanating from beginningless Source permeates all of creation as
well as the human form governing all aspects of life. By consciously knowing and working with
with these corresponding energetic forces in terms of the elements, the mind, and their psycho-
energetic relationships constitute tha basis of swara yoga. At first this relationship is developed
by getting in touch with the breath as it flows in both nostrils. Such a conscious relationship has
subatomic, atomic, cellular, creative/artistic, and healing modalities. It is at once has
evolutionary, practical, and spiritual purport.

The ancient Rishis believed that learning to read the breath and then attuning it in harmony with
nature's finer forces, that the yogi can learn to read the outer and inner universe (macrocosm and
microcosm) and in that way come into a profound harmony as well as in evolutionary function.
Swara yoga teachings can also act as an elaborate system of astrological prediction and guide
everyday tantric activities. In this sense pranayama is said to be a specific aspect of swara yoga.
Swara Yoga is thought to have been taught by Shiva to Shakti and in this way brought to the
human being.

The science then starts with observing that the breath has many subtle characteristics which can
be identified as to cause and effect revealing nature's deeper pulsations - thus forming a
conscious and direct relationship with the evolutionary power and intelligence. The assumption
is that, all else being equal, in a healthy person "normally"the dominant nostril will alternate
from one nostril to the other approximately every 90 minutes. The flow of the prana in the left
(ida) and right (pingala) nadis retain a correspondence in the left and right nostrils respectively.

There are many specific factors which influence this flow (swarodaya) including the lunar
cycles, the time of day, etc. Briefly, being conscious of what nostril is dominant gives us
information about the suitableness of certain activities. The left nostril dominance indicates ida
dominance and the right nostril the pingala. The central import of ida and pingala nadis are
found in any good hatha yoga book; so they won't be listed here.
An important awareness for the yogi is that when the nostrils are balanced, the energy can
flow into the sushumna nadis – being harmonized and synchronized, our latent non-dual
dynamics becomes activated. This is best for meditation and spiritual practices. These flows can
be easily observed and moved any time during the day or even while sleeping through the
application of awareness (cit prana) if when wisdom prompts.

Sleeping on the left side usually opens the right swara, while laying on the left side opens the
flow through the right swara. The swaras can also be opened through placing pressure on the
opposite armpits and other methods some of which can be purely mental.

This is only the rudiments of Swara Yoga which as stated is a vast subject, and is said to
encompass the whole science of pranayama. As pranayama is a technique within hatha yoga,
then in this sense, swara yoga techniques are also part of hatha yoga (at least those that lead to
spiritual liberation). Thus in the application of swara yoga to hatha yoga pay attention not only to
the quantity of the breath through each nostril, but its many more subtle qualities such as position
in the nostril, direction of swirl, degree of coarseness, and many other tell-tale characteristics.
This differentiation of the myriad qualities of the breath as it flows through the nostrils can be
taken to an extreme by shamans and worldly minded people in order to gain many kinds of
information and siddhi; but according to yogis the science is valuable for mukti – liberation, and
as such that is its best usage.

What is of value and can be learned very easily is to balance the breath in both nostrils evenly
before and during meditation (called sushumna breath). Rather than making this another chore to
do, perhaps it is best to phrase this as ALLOWING for the left and right breaths to become even.
Anyone can easily get in touch with which nostril is blocked by temporarily closing off the
opposite nostril one at a time. The nostril which makes the highest pitch sound is the one that is
most constricted. Unless we have a deviated septum or other physical illness we can consciously
learn to open up the clogged nostril simply through conscious intention once the awareness and
energy is focused (chit prana). When the breath is so balanced, then there is another shift in
consciousness that directly relates deeply to the core nervous system (cutting past the superficial
layering and filtering of the intellect) that creates a definitive ontological shift from dualistic
imbalance into simultaneous co-arising non-dual co-participation – into harmony and unity – in
short, into a subjective experiential appreciation of yoga that is in harmony with the natural
Mind. Such non-dual breath affects the mind profoundly; while the energy is said to move in the
central/non-dual nadi, the sushumna, rather than in the polar nadis of ida and pingala.

The consistent conscious application of chit prana, which obeys the principle that states "where
ever the mind goes so does one’s energy and vice versa" prevents our energy from becoming
imbalanced and dissipated (according to where our attention is focused and thought patterns).
Increasing our awareness of the subtle nuances of conscious awareness pertaining to life's subtle
energetics (cit-prana) has powerful positive benefits for humankind in all aspects of daily life as
well as in conscious sleep. It of course has tremendous value in order to set down a basic
framework and support base for meditation, as the mind becomes tamed and no longer wanders.
If the mind or energy begins to lose focus, dissipate or wander -- if it does become agitated, then
returning to the even and balanced breath (called sushumna breath) will again help dissolve the
citta-vrtti. Although very powerful for meditation, the sushumna breath is not at all difficult to
learn.

Reviews of eight recommended books on Swara Yoga translated into English follow.

1) "Swara Chintamani: Divination by Breath", translated S. Kannan, Sagar Publications, 18,


Indian Oil Bhawan, New Janpath Market, New Delhi, 1972.

The title translates literally as "The Wish Fulfilling Jewel (Chintamani) of the Swara". It is a
translation in English of the Swara Chintamani with appendices. The book takes on the form of a
dialogue between Siva and his wife, Parvati

2) "Swara Yoga: The Tantric Science of Brain Breathing" , Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati,
Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar, India, 1983.

This is the translation of the Shiva Swarodaya with an extensive introduction, analysis, and
commentary. It also takes on the format of a dialogue between Shiva and Parvati.

3) "Secret Power of Tantrik Breathing", Swami Sivapriyananda, Abhinav Publications, E-37


Hauz Khas. New Delhi -110016, 1996.

A small but excellent thorough explanation written with clarity.

4) "Nature's Finer Forces and the Science of Breath (Pranayama Yoga)"was originally
published in Sanskrit as "Science of the Breath and the Philosophy of the Tatwas"), written by
Rama Prasad and published by the Theosophical Publishing Society, London, 1890.

From the preface:

"There is a good deal in the book that can only be shown to be true by long and diligent
experiment. Those who are devoted to the pursuit of truth without prejudice will no doubt be
ready to wait before they form any opinion about such portions of the book. Others it is useless
to reason with."

5) Breath, Mind, and Consciousness, Harish Johari, Destiny Books, One Park St., Rochester,
VT., 1989.
The most available book in the West and a reasonable and practical introduction, but not an in
depth presentation.

6) "Science of Yoga- Chapter Four -- Pranayama Section- Sub-Chapter on Swara Yoga (pages
384-392, Swami Sivananda, The Divine Life Society, India.

This is one of my favorite all around books which is divided in three sections (Hatha Yoga,
Kundalini Yoga, and Pranayama). In the pranayama section, Swami Sivananda describes Swara
Yoga sufficiently. This is Volume Four in the Science of Yoga series which can be bought at any
Sivananda Yoga center or via the www.sivananda.org web site. I think IYI also carries this
series.

7) "The Path of Fire and Light -- Vol. 1" , Swami Rama, Himalayan Intl. Inst. Of Yoga Science,
RR 1, Box 400, Honesdale, PA., 18431, 1986

Perhaps Swami Rama's most advanced and still generally available book which contains a full
chapter on Swara Yoga.

8) "Swara Yoga" by Swami Sivananda, Divine Life Society, India, second but limited edition,
2000. This long out of print book is now again available.

Books 1, 2, 3, 4,and 8 are the most detailed, while 5, 6, and 7 are the most easily accessed.

The tatwas are the five modifications of the great Breath. Acting upon prakriti, this Great breath
throws it into five states, having distinct vibratory motions, and performing different functions.
The first outcome of the Evolutionary State of parabrahma is the akasa tatwa.

After this come in order the vayu, the tejas, the apas and the prithvi. They are variously known as
mahabhutas. The word, akasa, is generally translated into English by the word, ether....

It will be very interesting to trace the development of man and the development of the world
according to the theory of the tatwas.

The akasa is the most important of all the tatwas. It must, as a matter of course, precede and
follow every change of state on every plane of life. Without this there can be no manifestation or
cessation of forms. It is out of akasa that every form comes, and it is in akasa that every form
lives. The akasa is full of forms in their potential state. It intervenes between every two of the
five tatwas, and between every two of the five principles.
The evolution of the tatwas is always part of the evolution of a certain definite form. Thus the
manifestation of the primary tatwas is with the definite aim of giving what we may call a body, a
Prakritic form to the Iswara. In the bosom of the Infinite Parabrahma, there are hidden
unnumerable such centers. One center takes under its influence a certain portion of the Infinite,
and there we find first of all coming into existence the akasa tatwa. The extent of this akasa
limits the extent of the Universe, and out of it, the Iswara is to come....

The tatwas, as we have already seen, are the modifications of Swara. Regarding Swara, we find
in our book: “In the Swara are the Vedas and the shastras, and in the Swara is music. All the
world is in the Swara; Swara is the spirit itself.”.

Swara is “the current of the life-wave”. It is that wavy motion which is the cause of the evolution
of cosmic undifferentiated matter into the differentiated universe, and the involution of this into
the primary state of non-differentiation, and so on, in and out, forever and ever. From whence
does this motion come? This motion is the spirit itself. The word atma used in the book, itself
carries the idea of eternal motion, coming as it does from the root at, eternal motion; and it may
be significantly remarked, that the root at is connected with (and in fact is simply another form
of) the roots ah, breath, and as, being. All these roots have for their original the sound produced
by the breathing of animals.

In The Science of Breath the symbol for inspiration is sa, and for expiration ha. It is easy to see
how these symbols are connected with the roots as and ah. The current of life-wave spoken of
above is technically called Hansachasa, i.e., the motion of ha and sa. The word, Hansa, which is
taken to mean God, and is made so much of in many Sanskrit works, is only the symbolic
representation of the eternal processes of life – ha and sa.

The primeval current of life-wave is, then, the same which in man assumes the form of
inspiratory and expiratory motion of the lungs, and this is the all-pervading source of the
evolution and the involution of the universe.

The book goes on: “It is the Swara that has given form to the first accumulations of the divisions
of the universe; the Swara causes involution and evolution; the Swara is God Himself, or more
properly the great Power (Mahashwara).” The Swara is the manifestation of the impression on
matter of that power which in man is known to us as the power that knows itself. It is to be
understood that the action of this power never ceases. It is ever at work, and evolution and
involution are the very necessity of its unchangeable existence.

The Swara has two different states. The one is known on the physical plane as the sun breath, the
other as the moon-breath.

By Rama Prasad, from "Nature's Finer Forces and the Science of Breath (Pranayama Yoga)",
originally published in Sanskrit as "Science of the Breath and the Philosophy of the Tatwas").

Related Resources on the Web:


Patanjali's Yoga Sutras; Pada III (Vibhuti Pada), Sutras III.41-46. Also see III.31 commentary on
the Kurma Nadi

"Nature's Finer Forces and the Science of Breath (Pranayama Yoga)" was originally published
in Sanskrit as "Science of the Breath and the Philosophy of the Tatwas"), by Rama Prasad, is
available here in PDF format,

Swara Yoga (according to the Bihar School of Yoga). Much excellent data about Swara Yoga at
http://www.swarayoga.org

Swarodaya Vigjnan: A Scientific Analysis of the Nasal Cycle and its Applications, by
Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, International. Centre for Yoga Education and
Research, Pondicherry

Bhuta Shuddhi (presented by Swami Rama)

Presentation of Bhuta Shuddhi by Swami Satyasangananada Saraswati

Energy Bodies, Koshas, Kayas, and Sharira

Chakra Purification Meditation

Chakra and Energy Body Healing

An Energy Body Approach to Hatha Yoga Asana Practice

Hatha Yoga Topics Index

HeartMind Yoga Home

The Variety of Yoga Teachings and Teachers: How to Contact Your Inner Teacher (a large
document)

Hatha Yoga Purification Page Index

Bandhas in Hatha Yoga Practice

HeartMind Links Page containing links to many hatha yoga classical texts

Rai
http://www.rainbowbody.net/Ongwhehonwhe/cabchak.htm

The Cabala and the Chakras

Something comes through and the challenge is using words. But even though most of
us have been misled and overly externalized through the use of words and symbols
from the "real thing, words and intellect can also be placed in synergistic harmony (or
otherwise mesh) with non-dual Reality as long as balance, context or perspective is
maintained. Is that what wisdom is made from (or is it love)?

The teacher (authority) is inside and all authentic spiritual teachers reflect that and
help us realize it. They await us in the Heart (the Center of the Universe). We receive
good feelings and strength from those who speak and act from/in the Heart.

So here is a small dose of the Cabala (from Jewish mysticism), It closely parallels the
energy body system of yoga and attempts to remedy the patriarchal and earth negative
tendencies of orthodox Judeo-Christian thought.

It is difficult to find much nature positive stuff in that predominately patriarchal and
"alien god" oriented system, but yes if you know what you are searching for it is there,
especially it the marginalized traditions which were not "state" sanctioned. This was
true in both Judaism and Christianity. But like most religions, a corruption has
become institutionalized -- i.e., they have left the garden and no longer allow for
direct discourse with God.

In the Cabala there indeed seems to be a system of correspondences which parallels


closely this requisite dynamic inter-relationship between spirit and nature. It seems
over simplistic to solve the "problem" of embodiment (existence) by advocating
escape or withdrawal. The "trick", rather, seems to be how to live a creative, loving,
and fulfilling LIFE.

So the Cabala necessarily goes back to the feminine (Shekinah) in order to re-
establish balance and harmony and this relationship is facilitated between Kether and
Malkuth primarily.

The Kaballah is extraordinarily similar to the ancient Indian system. Although


originally an imbalanced patriarchal system, the kaballah attempts to achieve balance
through the emphasis placed upon the idea of the Shekinah or female mate of God.
This is similar to the placement of Nature in relationship to that of Spirit, the
differentiated as opposed to the undifferentiated, and/or the resolution of the apparent
dichotomy between earth and heaven through the Intermediator of the divine human
body, Adam Kadmon (Quadmon), which is considered by the kaballists to be the
energetic template of the spiritual man (or embodied spirit).

We will not go into the voluminous and specific teachings of the kaballah (written
mostly in Hebrew and Aramaic) and its most eloquent and "authoritative book, "the
Zohar", here other than to show how its chakra system (called the Tree of Life) relates
almost exactly to that of the Indian system.

The tree of life can be equivocated to that of the energy body connected by the
psychic channels (called nadis in Sanskrit). On top is Ayin -- nothingness -- the
unlimited, undifferentiated infinity. On the bottom is Shekinah, differentiated reality,
Divine immanence, or Everything. On the very top above the tree of life resides Ayin,
which is male, God, and Spirit while at the very bottom below the tree resides
Shekinah, which is female, earth, and great abundance. The template is the Uniter,
channel, temple, vehicle, and Intermediator,

On top of the tree of life proper is Kether (the crown) which lies directly below Ayin
and represents pure divine will. This is the equivalent to Sahasrara chakra.

Next is Hokmah, or the wisdom point, which is the equivalent to ajna chakra. Then
Binah (understanding) at the throat center or vishuddi chakra.

The heart chakra (anahat) is a combination of Gevurah or justice (symbolized by the


left arm and red in color) and Chessed (love and grace) symbolized by the right arm
and the color, white.

The manipura (jewelled center) chakra at the navel corresponds to Tifferet or


beauteous splendour which corresponds to the sun in kaballah and the fire element in
yoga.

Below Tifferet (splendour) is Yesod which is the generative, seminal, and sexual
center which is linked to Tifferet above both directly and through Hod and Netsah.

The root chakra (muladhara in Sanskrit) equates to Malkuth of the Kaballah where the
Shekinah can enter. It is said that the secret of fulfilling the mizvot (the epitome of all
good deeds) is the mending of all the worlds and drawing forth the emanation from
above thus balancing Shekinah with Ayin Soph.

To recapitulate the equivalencies:


Hebrew Sanskrit
Kether sahasrara chakra

Hokmah ajna chakra

Binah vishuddi chakra

Gevurah/Chessed anahat chakra

Tifferet manipura chakra

Yesod swadhistana chakra

Malkuth muladhara chakra

In addition the two cabalistic centers, Hod and Netsah, assist the connection between
the lower two chakras (Yesod and Malkuth) and Tifferet. The Kaballah and Zohar is a
rich literary source along this vein and this short introductory is by no means complete
other than to show a corresponding western tradition which found itself in a
patriarchal and sterile morass, but which freed itself through the formation of the idea
of balance through honoring the Shekinah.

The ten spiritual centers in Hebrew are called Sephirot instead of chakras and are
related to the major arcana of the tarot (a scan be found in many books on the subject).

BACK to Ongwhehonwhe Home

To Heartmind Yoga Pages

The Long Body: Portal to Earth Based Spirituality (includes "TWO TREES" by W. B.
Yeats)

Indigenous Legends of Sacred Trees and Dragons

The Sacred Tree by Brain Bates

Energy and Chakra Healing (primarily utilizing yogic, Chinese, shamanistic, and Huna
approaches)

http://www.rainbowbody.net/Ongwhehonwhe/Earthbase.htm
The Body of Yoga and the Long Body: Toward an Earth Based
Spirituality

Embodying Love: The Living Abode of Spirit

For clarity, It is valuable to start out by defining what is meant by "Earth Based" spirituality.
Simply it means that spirit/creator permeates all of creation, it underlies it, supports, it and is
integral to it. The Living God as the Great Integrity is all inclusive, indefinable, unlimited,
infinite, omnipresent, but it is clothed (as well as disclosed) through all her rich and varied
manifestations -- as the weavers fabric (nature). Thus within this dynamic everchanging evolving
weave, one discerns the work of the weaver. Conversely by studying the weave, the weaver can
be known. Indeed that is how man is woven.

Here the earth as well as man's body is a result of that weave. The earth as well as the sun and
heavens are all an intimate part of this evolutionary co-creative process (as well as all her
intimate parts). As such when we become aware of the causeless cause both within ourselves as
well as within all of creation, then thus are revealed key vital holographic multi-dimensional
living contact points with that sacred process. Abiding in this integrity we can trace back to
creator in the sacred present, i.e., that sacred presence radiates through all of creation. The rest is
corruptive or fragmented living.

Yes, most of humanity today have forgotten how to access this inherent "Reality". In "Reality"
our native innate abilities and higher creative potential have become repressed, shut down, and
deactivated through years of negative conditioning, desense, and dysfunctional programming to
the point which our "beliefs" of "self" and "reality" actually serve as the glue that holds our own
"self inflicted" bondage entrained. These layers of negative false belief systems and habits have
replaced the underlying Reality of ALL OUR RELATIONS -- of our Becoming whole and
holy. Such a life of Integrity is amoral. It is not in need of manual directives in order to live a
"righteous" or "good" life. Here the church is not external; the man of integrity has become the
abode of living spirit. Here we refer to the natural Integrity of spirit and nature, the mind and
body, siva and shakti, creator and creation, crown and root, heaven and earth... the alchemical
marriage complete and whole.

By ignoring our intimate connection to the creator through creation, we do not take advantage of
our direct intrinsic connection with unborn Source. Through this estrangement with implicate
Divine order in this body and in this world, we then suffer the negative consequents of spiritual
self alienation, estrangement, ignorance, fear, illusion, aversion, and neurotic craving for a
compensatory surrogate fulfillment which will never satisfy completely. But by affirming a
living and all pervading sacred presence here and now on earth and inside the body, we affirm
the sacredness of our own life, acknowledging its divine origin, as well as the divine origin and
innate magnificence of all of creation as well as its active expression in ALL OUR
RELATIONS.

All of phenomena is permeated with spirit. When the spiritual eyes are open, the spiritual man
sees the greater whole. Then we enter into our natural true abode, or rather best put the artificial
constructs of past negative conditioning fall away as illusions revealing the true nature of
Reality. <

At the same time this does not say that spirit exists exclusively on earth, on the sun, in the
pleiades system, elsewhere, or anywhere exclusively. Rather spirit is all encompassing -- all
inclusive. The only place it doesn't exist is inside man's ignorant mind. Although spirit naturally
wants to instruct and permeate man, man's ignorance fed by hubris, arrogance, pride, separate
sense of self, ignorance, fear, and confusion opposes it. Although spirit exists in man, all beings,
and all created phenomena, it is not dependent exclusively upon any of that, not dependent upon
the physical body or any temporal phenomena. However man's life and body is dependent upon
spirit and that connection which is formed between spirit and earth. The body like all of creation
is temporal -- always changing (on fire), but spirit is universal and absolute, not dependent upon
time or space. Universal Spirit is beginningless, deathless, immanent, numinous, omnipresent
and thus is present here and now.

A nature positive belief affirms that spirit is omnipresent as well as eternal, while life itself is
part of its sacred dance (although temporary).It affirms that nature is a sacred path which both
clothes and reveals spirit, as an living expression of divine spirit. As such man who lives in
INTEGRITY is inherently obligated to joyously treat ALL OUR RELATIONS intimately and
with respect or suffer the curse of brokenness, estrangement, alienation, and loneliness. Thus it is
said that the only place where spirit does not dwell is in man's illusions, delusions, fear, and
ignorance.

In this sense the earth as well as all of creation is the dance of eternal spirit (which does not
move), i.e., WE ARE ITS ARMS AND LEGS -- its voice and its song -- all that and more! WE
are its transpersonal abode. An earth based spirituality does not affirm attachment nor
dependence (which is in reality simply fear) upon the earth. It does not affirm that god is
exclusively earth based, but rather God is all encompassing and present. That as creator, God
created the earth and thus it is sacred to those who know its source intimately. As such Earth
Based spirituality is embodied love, it is an affirmation of Universal Source -- of the creator
which lives and breathes creation into being and as such the true one creator of man and nature
combined. So when I see that mountain, that wild herb, that frog or bird, and hear the whisper of
the winds I hear the song of that great intelligence sing in integrity all the way back to
beginningless Source. In that miracle I rejoice. Ho!

The man who knows spirit in creation, knows himself, knows the history of the earth and the
cosmos, knows the harmony and unity of the divine. having this divine wisdom, one need not
adopt foreign creation myths. Such a man walks the earth and lives his life in confidence, self
knowledge, and without fear nor artifice. He is home and knows all as kin -- as Self as ALL
OUR RELATIONS.

Such a man loves creation deeply as the beauty way; he knows life as sacred love; yet this not a
personal love with attachment or need to possess something external. As such all one's
relationships affirms this sacred meeting -- as an aloha and a recognition. It is a natural
expression of pure love -- who we are. With the expression, earth based spirituality, defined
above, we will continue to elaborate in celebration of eternal spirit right here and now. Here all
of nature are relatives -- It all makes sense within the divine scheme of the sacred teaching.

One may be able to successfully analyze mankind's conundrum as being a result of suffering
from spiritual alienation in everyday life and activities; but to live this truth in ALL OUR
RELATIONS, is to complete one's love in fullness -- in a life well lived. Simply put, mankind's
suffering is the result of man's heart being split between spirit and nature -- between the eternal
and formless on one hand and created form here and now -- between heaven/earth, or mind/body,
in his present situation.

Through man's split from his true nature -- from his alienation from nature, the larger Heart is
obviated and shutdown. When spirit is not defined as some far off distant future or existing in
some ancient primeval garden, but rather here and now in sacred presence, then mankind may
awaken to an authentic living (earth based) spirituality. Again this is not to say that spirit is
bound to earth exclusively, but rather it is an affirmation that spirit is omnipresent and all
inclusive and thus earth is based upon it -- the seed or creator is found inside of the body of
creation -- Here, spirit is beginningless, eternal, omni-present, never ending, and self existing
while everything else is changing. Spirit is eternal -- it is found HERE. It is HERE that life is
fulfilled -- by fulfilling true universal all pervading omniscient spirit. HERE

Although the mental and bodily functions can be distinguished apart, just as the stars can be
separated from the earth, there never-the-less exists a greater interdependent dynamic and
intelligent whole which unites them all together -- a mutuality and unity that upholds and
embraces us ALL, gives us buoyancy and abundance, beauty and inspiration. this relationship
provides meaning and implicate order, in a way of direct knowing. It is the basis of instinct,
intuition, inner wisdom, and thus frees us from confusion, self doubt, despair, lack of self
esteem, lack of purpose, and neurotic craving and uncomfortability. If this authentic Great
Integrity is not affirmed and integrated into our daily lives, our life is becomes demeaned, an
artificial rift is created, energy and breath is blocked. In that milieu we feel a loss, a somber
absence, a lack -- dissatisfaction and desire are born -- there neurotic cravings and needs for
compensation are fed rather than extinguished and also there consumerism is born, over
gratification, envy, hatred, greed, and all the rest of the disturbances of the heart.

The milieu of craving and suffering -- greed and want -- is artificially created from a body
negative and earth negative negative cultural programming and conditioning, through causative
processes of spiritual estrangement in our experience from before birth up until the present, from
those who themselves have become rigid and hard in their hearts, spiritually estranged from
living spirit, who have grown to fear wilderness and anything else that they can not control or
conquer. We are all born from the same intrinsic Source whose architect is read from the grand
diversity of her genetic material. Thus we and ALL OUR RELATIONS are all also born
different, yet relatives. It is this innate sacred "relationship" between this very sacred genetic
material and infinite Source which becomes programmed, conditioned, and expropriated through
modern negative situations and experiences. Although the cultural conditions vary as to how
great the pull has become that tends to shut down the Heart, never-the-less the individual heart
can be prepared and re-tuned through earth based and body positive yoga or its cousins in body
psychotherapy, eco-psychology, green psychology, wholistic somatic therapy, deep ecology,
wholism, and indigenous spirituality; all of which are dedicated toward reversing this trend --
mending the rend -- making oneself whole again, as well as to prevent the retransmission of
trans-generational trauma from occurring in future generations in the first place./P>

The pages found on Ongwhehonwhe and HeartMind serve to reveal the potential of instant
presence -- of timeless indigenous space, and life affirming ways of living in order to grow
strong together in sacred presence -- in order to live in that richness, fullness, and abundance
which sustains us and uplifts us -- which honors the body of life, all living things, and love of
which we are all together united in the LONG BODY -- the Great Integrity -- Eternal Self, as
"who" we really are in Reality, in authenticity and integrity, so that we may cease living the lie
and throw away our fear and masks, our hatred and pretension, the greed and envy, the suffering
and angst.

What is necessary is a pure heart, sincerity (as opposed to seriousness), dedication to truth, open
heartedness; a willingness to search which includes a joy in discarding pretense, falsehood,
beliefs, ideology, and the other neurotic acquired armoring of pride and false conditioned
identifications. In short we must surrender ignorance and illusion in order to find wisdom and
Reality.

In these pages we will reveal the Reality of the Holographic Tree which resides at the center of
the universe and is found both within and without. It called by many names in many traditions
such as Yggdrasil, the Tree of of Life, the Holy Tree of the Great Mid-world, the Sacred Tree,
the World Tree, etc. The yogis say that it is reached through the sushumna (central column that
runs parallel to the spine which links the mind and body, crown chakra (sahasrara) and earth
chakra (muladhara), spirit and nature, siva with shakti, heaven and earth, and so forth. In its
deepest center there is found the Hridayam or center of the axis itself, the center of the center, the
core of the core, the heart of hearts. From this still eternal center all things flow together-- all
things move and are seen as-they-are. This is not an existential neutral bland reality, but a
profound and sacred space. It is found within -- endogenous and indigenous, in all directions,
whole and holographic, multi-dimensional, beginningless, and Ever Present.

We are the living abode of Spirit, its living continuity, its loving
caretakers-- co-creators -- co-arising -- kin and ambassadors.

Ema-ho It is sacred!

The Two Trees

BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart,


The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with merry light;
The surety of its hidden root
Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a song for thee.
There the Loves a circle go,
The flaming circle of our days,
Gyring, spiraling to and fro
In those great ignorant leafy ways;
Remembering all that shaken hair
And how the winged sandals dart,
Thine eyes grow full of tender care:
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.

Gaze no more in the bitter glass


The demons, with their subtle guile,
Lift up before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a little while;
For there a fatal image grows
That the stormy night receives,
Roots half hidden under snows,
Broken boughs and blackened leaves.
For all things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat,
Or else they stand and sniff the wind,
And shake their ragged wings; alas!
Thy tender eyes grow all unkind:
Gaze no more in the bitter glass.

--William Butler Yeats

Prophecy of Crazy Horse


This was passed on by Chief Joe Chasing Horse, a relative of Crazy Horse. He translated it from
the words of a grandmother who was present when the words were spoken.

This is a statement of Crazy Horse as he sat smoking the sacred pipe at Paha Sapa with Sitting
Bull for the last time, 4 days before he was assassinated. Many of these words are often repeated.
There is one line often left out, that of the "young white ones".

"Upon suffering beyond suffering; the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing
for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world
longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will
gather under the sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In
that day there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and
understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come to those
of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole
universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am in that place within
me, we shall be as one."

-- Crazy Horse

Return to The Real People

Return to HeartMind Yoga

The Tree of Life in the Cabala As related to the Yoga Chakra system

Tree Legends/Myths Wisdom Tales of Indigenous People

The Sacred Tree by Brian Bates

The Samkhya Interpretation of Brahmacharya: Alien Gods and Anti-Nature Cults

The Integration of Spirit and Mater in the Yoga Sutras (Professor Ian Whicher)

Countering World-Negation: The World Affirming and Integrative Dimension of Classical Yoga
by Ian Whicher

The Sacred Tree by Brian Bates

Dragons and Dragon Lore, by Ernest Ingersoll. A complete 133 page book in Adobe PDF format
published in 1928

From David Icke's excellent website,

• Thor and the Midgard Serpent (the One That Got Away) by Thorskegga Thorn
• Nagas and Serpents
• A Serpent by any Other Name
• Serpent and the Sea: A Zuni Wisdom Tale

Energy and Chakra Healing (based on Chinese, yogic, Huna, and shamanistic assumptions)
http://www.rainbowbody.net/HeartMind/aliengod.htm

The Samkhya Interpretation of Nature


(Prakrti): Anti-Nature Cults and Alien Gods in
the Yoga Sutras Using Brahmacharya as an
example

Background:

As we can observe there has been an ongoing war going on between man and nature for many
millennia – it is the ego’s desire to rule over. predict, and control wilderness, nature, and
wildness – a vain attempt at poorly conceived idea of security and immortality of the ego that has
been doomed since its conception. However it seems that the ego was doomed to attempt this
and especially enticing was the human’s ability to expand and extend his technology as a means
to that end. In the end it served to be his undoing, destroying his habitat (nature) and self as a
part of nature rather than being apart FROM nature. When the human being succeeds in isolating
himself from nature, of course then he will become extinct – a result of man’s suicidal pathologic
mindset.

The Controversy over Brahmacharya in the Yoga Sutras

The controversy over why the translation of Brahmacharya in II.38 of Patanjali's YUoga Sutras
as being "sexual restraint", celibacy, continence, or repression speaks to an unspoken (verboten)
and insidious control issue that has lurked behind the scenes for millennia. It is common in
samkhya or alien religion doctrine in general. Samkhya here refers to be the ideology that the
self appointed expert “interpreters” of Patanjali have institutionalized. By alien i means a
pramana (doctrine) that posits that salvation, god, redemption, liberation is not found here in
life, in the present, as living spirit here and now, but rather anywhere “elsewhere” like after the
body dies, like in heaven. That view can be understood as a variation of the alien god view;
while the opposite view point could be considered more indigenous, endogenous, or immediately
relevant to our direct life experiences in Now awareness.

The reason it’s a control trip, is because “authority” is displaced to heaven and heaven’s
representatives here on earth; e.g., a church or priesthood, and/or a conspiracy of church and
state versus empowering the human being to know directly, to feel, and to act from that innate
wisdom. Hence confidence is shifted from prajna (intrinsic wisdom, insight, or intuition) to
confidence, faith, or trust in an external law bringer/authority. Such creates dependence and
attachment on this ersatz “reality” and thus one becomes habitually addicted.

Anything that separates one from their inner feelings or makes them distrust their feelings,
makes them feel sinful and evil, inadequate and incapable of self confidence without sanction
from an external authority (agama or sruti), thus serves the agenda of those who benefit from the
manipulation, exploitation of, and obedience from a slave class who have become addicted to
external authority. The upper castes thus fear that the slave classes will rebel, and hence their
security becomes associated with the lie which fuels the dependence/addiction – the dumbing
down and killing of the intrinsic light. In this way the slaves believe that they need the politically
correct dogma which serves to emasculate and enslave them. One =becomes their own warden,
prison guard, and prisoner, but the keys remain hidden/invisible – taboo even to speak about it.
That institutionalized denial and ignorance remains insidiousness. Here for the most part we
unconsciously perpetuate our own bondage. Our continued unconsciousness will continue to
reinforce that artificially contrived matrix which is depleting our energy, strength, and creative
power.

In this situation the rend/split from one’s own root feelings and sense of self impoverishment
and disempowerment, feeds one’s dependence upon the external order (that which controls one,
gives on e meaning, and a sense of ersatz security. In order to maintain control and external order
self serving totalitarian systems reinforce the latter.

For the yogis there was an inherent order gleaned from nature and the universe. It was a
reflection of Brahma/source. Although they lived independent from manmade conventions and
“reality”, they acknowledged source.—Brahma as inherent to creation. This was sometimes
referred to as Sanatana Dharma, the natural inherent law embedded in all of creation once one’s
discriminating awareness became sharp enough to read it (via functional yogic practices). This
was the assumption of the ancient munis and sage yogis (the vita-ragas) of the “simple”
mountain yogi tradition.

So in yoga, yogis have traditionally lived independent from conventional social and religious
orders whose latter authority stemmed from books, rituals, ceremony, and manmade conventions
no matter how “authoritative”. These hippy like yogis wore long hair and lived in nature
(mountain caves, forests, or river valleys) far removed from the dominant culture. They were
both respected and feared by the those addicted to external conventions – “normal” religious
people (feared because they were “strange” and were said to have powers (Siddhis). They posed
no real to the mainstream order of kings, religion, and the intelligentsia (those who
propagandized the official religion that disempowered the people and addicted them to external
authority) until that is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras were written.

Previously the common man was not wont to climb the mountains and follow the mountain yogi
tradition, but with the advent of a written manual, the establishment intelligentsia faced a
challenge. There was a need to co-opt and expropriate the Yoga Sutras. Just as they had done in
attempting to co-opt and control and own Buddhism (Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu
Not), so it became an important mission for this group to authoritatively “interpret” the Yoga
Sutras in terms of “conventional reality”, so specific pro-nature or pro life sections were turned
around (See I.19, II.38, II. 43, and II. 45.) while pramana (I.7) was excepted as klista-vrtti. This
was set in motion by the brilliant first known and extant commentator the Yoga Sutras , Vyasa,
who set the precedence for further interpretations and commentaries which has become
entrenched and institutionalized today so that almost every commentator “in the know” has
become thoroughly indoctrinated to this system before they could be said to “know” anything :)
In this way, brahmacarya became absolute. sexual continence or celibacy, swadhyaya
became studying the scriptures or reciting mantras, tapas became penance ors elf
abnegation, and nature and existence was postulated as the being the antithesis of
spirituality – the source of woe and suffering. Their solution was simple and straight forward,
negate nature, natural function, and the body; do your religious duty via ceremony and ritual and
observances; obey your priests and king, perform your religious duties (dharma) according to
the Vedas; serve your king in obedience; and you will be rewarded in the afterlife (good karma)
– have a favorable rebirth and enjoy riches, comfort, and have slaves (upper caste status) – or
maybe you will become a god and go to deva loka. Not unlike some alien god Western religions
as well. except I think Western religions had a larger sense of “justice” and social responsibility
than the strict other worldly samkhya and orthodox Vedic interpretations of allowing “injustice”
or the idea that there was no injustice (a passive view of karma). Here I am addressing the
mainstream orthodox Vedic and Samkhya schools. Within India there was also great heterodoxy
of course, but none that posed such a threat to Vedism as Buddhism and Pure Yoga .

Buddha (circa 500 BC) of course changed much of that by rejecting the caste system, rituals,
ceremonies, priesthoods, gurus, and such dependencies while advocating becoming direct
disciples of one’s innate awakening potential which is inside each and every sentient being
awaiting to be awakened. Buddha also taught more aggressive practices of taking karma into
one’s own hands, As such the religious and social hierarchy judged such an advent as a
threat. So too was the advent of Patanjali’s writing of the pure yoga of the Yoga Sutras
which in a parallel way also did not create dependence on a church or any other external
authoritative structures. Hence a threat to conventional law and order was perceived. .

The Cat is Let Out of the Box – Taboo and Totem

It was well understood, that people could be controlled by training them to fear and dissociate
from their own feelings and inner authority/self confidence at an early age This was
scientifically articulated in the 20th century by Freud and others (especially his nephew, the
father of public relations and propaganda (Edward L. Bernays). Freud and Bernays articulated
the mechanisms of repression, inhibition, dissociation, sublimation, and neuroses (often called
adaptation) as a tool of social engineering and manipulation. Freud of course advocated
conformity and obedience to Viennese society (and hence living with the neuroses rather than to
rebel and change the society so that the neuroses (whose root was repression) was rooted out in
the first place. Hence the coping mechanism of the ego was reinforced, while again the
transpersonal non-dual identifications/association with nature and the commons were again
demeaned (in deference to the king). Only at the end of Freud’s life while living in England
having fled Viennese Nazis society, did he recant his theories of “civilization” and its discontents
(another story told elsewhere).

See this link to Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays

But the point here is that separating a developing young and impressionable mind from their
feelings of well being and innate pleasure through negative programming techniques --
mechanisms of sexual inhibition, fear, guilt, and sin – sexual repression creates the ground work
for ersatz reality (sublimation) and self perpetuating neurotic symbolic syndromes of constant
dissatisfaction and hence cravings for external fixes and possessions (asmita-raga and asmita-
dvesa) which can be invisibly manipulated since the root cause is unconscious – deeply =buried
in a prior programmed/institutionalized repression and dissociation mechanism which now has
become incorporated as the ego.

“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men
we have never heard of. We are dominated by a relatively small number of persons who
understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires
which control the public.”
Edward Bernays, “Propaganda”

Of course there exist many ways to create obedient children, and willing slaves, but sexual
repression and sublimation is a major training method. where the child becomes convinced that
they can not trust their deepest feelings, hence they begin their quest for the external larger good
– the doctrine and dictates of those who promise them escape from “self”, existence, and nature.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the
masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen
mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of
our country."

Edward Bernays

The Institutionalization of the Yoga Sutras

So back to Brahmacharya in the Yoga Sutras. Besides in Sutra I.19, Brahmacarya is a very
large reference where Patanjali is addressing how we consciously relate to nature and the
evolutionary seed source; that is other animals, flora, habitat, the evolutionary force, creation,
and creativy as well as future generations. It is all about propagating life as being a part OF
nature, not apart FROM it as human beings. As such, Brahmacarya was turned around by the
samkhya dualists whose salvation is found in the rejection, renunciation, diminution,
depreciation, and escape from nature, creation, the universe, and the creative act. It's rather an
overly simplistic philosophy, just say no -- negate it.

Of cousre not all people succumb to negative conditioning, propaganda, vrtti, spin, or political
correctness. The more a person has confidence that they can think for themselves independently
from external authority, the more they are able to consult and access their inner wisdom. The
more they are capable of critical thought and discernment (viveka). Thinking as an individual
does not mean that the intelligence operating behind that process is it is coming from ego, rather
the contrary; it is coming from intrinsic wisdom (purusa). It is not the ego (the ego is dependent
upon buddhi/intellect and buddhi/intellect belongs under the control of the ego, but the source of
buddhi (mahat and purusa). The more one is capable of this kind of “independent” thinking from
conventional thought, the less likely his or her ideas are affected by those with external agendas,
media campaigns, or wish to manipulate one. This is why, while most people today believe in the
premise that they need big brother, the more they believe that, the more they clutch on to their
own prison bars, the more they will have a need to =feel threatened by ideas which contradict
conventional thought – the pramana-vrtti which they cling to and hence wish to demean and
blame “the enemy” who contradicts their unquestioned belief in external authority (agama).
Being aware of how our unconscious mind can influence our thoughts can get us to investigate
more of the rigid confines (prison bars) of what we take for granted which is not true – what
“authority’ tells us at each and every “bend”, what self serving institutionalized propaganda
mechanisms and the media tells us before reaching an “informed” and functional
transconceptual (nirvikalpa) conclusion which is informed by innate wisdom (prajna).

So walking with Brahma is taking a walk in nature and being informed by it in terms
beyond the three times –a sit is not isolated in time and place, but in its fullest grandeur –
great spaciousness and openness of emanating from the inherent true nature of mind
beyond conception or separateness.

For more, see "Accessing Patanjali (below)", the commentary after Pada I.7 (Pramana), I.19
(Prakrti), I.49 (sruti and anumana); II. 38 (Brahmacharya), II. 40 (saucha), II.43 (tapas), and II.44
(swadhyaya).

“It's not what we don't know that hurts us, it's what we know for certain that just ain't so.” Mark
Twain

An Extended Commentary to Pada II Sutra 38 (Brahmacarya)

Yoga Sanskrit to English Annotated Glossary

Professor Whicher's commentary on Prakrti (Nature) and Purusa (Spirit)

Countering World-Negation: The World Affirming and Integrative Dimension of Classical Yoga
by Ian Whicher (PDF Adobe File)

Yoga Sutra Chapter I: Samadhi Pada

Yoga Sutra Chapter II - Sadhana Pada

Yoga Sutra Chapter III: Vibhuti Pada

Yoga Sutra Chapter IV: Kaivalyam

Yoga Sutras Made Accessible: Extracted from the morass of over intellectualization

Back to Yoga Sutra Index


Back to HeartMind Home Page

Swami Venkatesananda Source Page

Yogiraj Sri Shyamacharan Lahiri Mahasaya's Source Page (Warning! This is a large Adobe PDF
file requiring Adobe PDF Reader)

Sri Pungaliya on Patanjali and Sri Jnaneshwar

An Earth Based Spirituality -- Embodying Love and Wisdom: The Living Abode of Spirit

Tree Legends, Myths, and Wisdom Tales: The Indigenous Spirit