Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha
If you take classes at Harmony Yoga, you will undoubtable hear an instructor mention Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha. Bandha is a Sanskrit word meaning to hold, lock, or tighten. Mula Bandha is referred to as the Root Lock because Mula means root in Sanskrit. Uddiyana Bandha is referred to as the Upward-Flying Lock because Uddiyana means upward-flying in Sanskrit. These two locks have benefits that reach beyond yoga.
Mula Bandha is the contraction or lifting of the pelvic floor. It is similar to a Kegel exercise and recruits the muscles you would use on the way to the bathroom if you had to pee really badly. Some yoga styles suggest that you maintain Mula Bandha throughout yoga class in order to keep energy flowing in and up instead of down and out. The rationale is that this internal lift helps to stave off fatigue. Mula Bandha is believed to stimulate the endocrine and the excretory systems and helps ease depression.
Uddiyana Bandha is the pulling the abdomen (about 4 inches below the navel) in and up toward the rib cage. Internally, it sucks the diaphragm, stomach, and abdomen up and back. Uddiyana Bandha is best performed on an empty stomach and is beneficial in most poses. This energetic lift makes one feel lighter thereby making yoga poses, especially the more advanced ones, easier. Many think Uddiyana Bandha aids digestion, increases metabolism, and helps reduce tension.
In a very practical sense, Mula Bandha strengthens your pelvic floor and counteracts the gravitational pull on the bladder and reproductive organs. Uddiyana Bandha helps to support the spine making it easier to stand and sit erect for prolonged periods of time. These very ancient locks are remarkably helpful in yoga and in life. Give it a try during your next yoga class or standing in line at the grocery!