Lift Your En­ergy

This gen­tle way of ac­cess­ing the six band­has (en­er­getic locks) dur­ing your prac­tice will help you ex­pe­ri­ence more free­dom in your body and bliss in your life.

Yoga Journal - - Contents - By Es­ther Ekhart

Learn the sub­tle skills re­quired to en­gage your band­has, and feel lighter, more sta­ble, and more se­cure.

THE GOAL OF WORK­ING WITH the band­has is to learn to con­trol—and seal— prana (life en­ergy) within the cen­tral en­ergy chan­nel that yo­gis be­lieve runs along your spine. As prana flows freely along this chan­nel, called sushumna nadi, it brings sta­bil­ity and light­ness to your phys­i­cal body and helps dis­solve emo­tional block­ages in your chakras (en­ergy cen­ters along sushumna nadi)— bal­anc­ing your body, mind, and spirit.

Each bandha acts as an en­er­getic lock, or valve. Sim­i­lar to the way that a valve on a bi­cy­cle tire lets air in while also keep­ing it from es­cap­ing, your three main band­has di­rect en­ergy and keep it con­tained in sushumna nadi. Mula Bandha (Root Lock), as­so­ci­ated with the pelvic floor, pushes en­ergy up to­ward your navel while also prevent­ing too much of it from leak­ing out; Ud­diyana Bandha, as­so­ci­ated with your core, moves en­ergy far­ther up; and Ja­land­hara Bandha, lo­cated at the throat, pushes en­ergy down and pre­vents too much en­ergy from es­cap­ing. When up­ward ( prana vayu) and down­ward ( apana vayu) en­er­gies meet at your navel and you ac­ti­vate Ud­diyana, it’s like two sticks be­ing rubbed to­gether to cre­ate pu­ri­fy­ing heat and awaken prana (also called Kun­dalini), said to lie dor­mant at the base of the spine.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the band­has were prac­ticed dur­ing pranayama (yo­gic breath­ing ex­er­cises), and mus­cles as­so­ci­ated with each bandha re­gion were held in­tensely dur­ing breath re­ten­tion. But in the past 20 years, there’s been a shift to­ward teach­ing the band­has dur­ing asana, and with less in­ten­sity.

The way that I now feel and ap­ply the band­has to my own asana prac­tice has evolved from us­ing force, and grip­ping in my body, to ex­plor­ing them from a place of re­lease and soft­ness. I used to clench my pelvic floor and en­gage my lower ab­dom­i­nals a bit too ag­gres­sively. This never felt quite right, and at times im­mo­bi­lized my body and breath.

Af­ter a par­tic­u­larly en­light­en­ing med­i­ta­tion re­treat, it oc­curred to me that the pur­pose of work­ing with the band­has is to awaken the same con­scious­ness that you do in med­i­ta­tion—and you gain en­try to this ex­pe­ri­ence by invit­ing soft­ness, never by force. Our whole yoga prac­tice, in­clud­ing the band­has, is a col­lec­tion of tech­niques for ob­serv­ing what arises in the present mo­ment with­out grip­ping or re­ject­ing. It is a di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence of aware­ness. My ap­proach to the band­has is to re­lease any ten­sion held around the edges of each bandha area so that I feel a gen­tle, spon­ta­neous rise of prana.

When I watch my stu­dents prac­tice the band­has this way, I see more flu­id­ity in their move­ment and more open­ness in each pose. I’ve also no­ticed that if I overdo it in a pose (try­ing to sink too deep in Pi­geon Pose, for ex­am­ple) I lose the feel­ing of en­ergy in my cen­tral chan­nel, so my bandha work acts as a safe­guard against poor align­ment and in­jury. Try it for your­self with this prac­tice, de­signed to help you feel more en­er­get­i­cally bal­anced.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.