Angela Kukhahn in Handstand. Photo by Leelu Morris

How Does One Unlock The Power of Mula Bhanda?

Bandhas are energy locks that help us to direct Prana within the body. For some they are somewhat of a mystery and are seldom discussed in depth within the yoga classroom. For some discussing Mula Bandha in particular is may be difficult as it deals with the pelvic floor muscles and for some teachers may be embarrassing.
mula_bandha

To engage mula bandha, exhale and contract the muscles between the pubic bone and the tailbone, pulling the perineum up in towards the abdomen. As you pull the pelvic floor up, feel the lower deep abdominal muscles engage and pull towards the spine. This sort of feels like stopping the flow of pee, or for guys stepping into icy cold water I am told. Initially you will need to contract the anus and the genitals, but over time work you will learn to relax the external muscles and solely isolate the perineum deep inside the body to find the lift.(the space between the anus and genitals). You can practice isolating Mula Bhanda with the breath and work on lifting it in and up and either holding it or using rhythmic contractions with the breath. Do not hold the breath or strain. Try to maintain calm and centered breathing throughout your practice of Mula Bandha. Below is a drawing of exactly what you are lifting, the muscles of the pelvic floor form a hammock of sorts that supports the internal organs at the base of the spine.
mula bhanda

My hero Sadie Nardini explains it here in a fantastic YouTube video I highly recommend you watch she calls it The Most important Yoga Pose

Using mula bandha with yoga postures has many benefits. It helps with jumping especially as it integrates your core on the very deepest level. It helps build core body strength, enables you to hold the postures longer, and helps to prevent injuries. Mula bandha also increases your energy and vitality, and provides an overall feeling of well-being. Using mula bandha to support the asana from your core body allows the distal muscles to relax, enabling the body to use less energy to hold the posture. Mula bandha usually begins to happen naturally over time with the practice of arm balancing and inversions.

If you have a hard time finding Mula Bhanda at first don’t worry that is very common and over time breath work in particular will help strengthen it until you can feel a strong contraction and lift.

David Life founder of Jivamukti yoga centers in NYC wrote an excellent article on Mula Bhanda called “To Infinity and Beyond” and says

“Mula bandha is said to cut through brahma granthi, the energetic knot of our resistance to change, which lies in mula-dhara chakra. On the physical level, practicing mula bandha creates attentiveness in the supportive musculature of the pelvis. This increases the stability of the pelvis, and, since the pelvis is the seat of the spine, its stability creates a safe environment for spinal movement. Thus, mula bandha strengthens—and teaches the importance of—the solid foundation that should underlie any movement.”

Another fantastic article is found HERE and is a very practical guide on some exercises meant to guide you into discovering Mula Bhanda in some very basic asanas to get you started!