After asan and pranayam, another important thing to be learned before starting mudras is bandhas. There are three bandhas explained in yogic scriptures, namely Jalandhar bandh, Udiyan bandh and Mool bandh. They are used in various combinations with pranayam and asans to practice mudras.
This is the first bandh and it involves the area of throat and thyroid. Normally, it is said, nectar (som rasa) which is continuously produced by our Sahasrar is consumed by the Sun energy in Manipur chakra. This bandha stops that flow of nectar from falling into the digestive fire and be wasted.
Sit in a Dhyan asan and raise the chest to meet descending chin. Chin rests in the notch of the neck between the two collar bones keeping back straight and body aligned.
Our body has two channels namely Ida and Pingla, which are cooling and heating nadis respectively. Cool energy coming from the lunar side is not allowed by the neck lock to fall into the stomach. Thus, this nectar is saved from being destroyed and hence life gets prolonged. It clears nasal passage, regulates flow of pran to heart. Also thyroid and parathyroid located in the neck are kept in good shape, alleviates the problem of hypo or hyper secretion of these glands. It relaxes the antah karan chatushtaya i.e Mind, intellect, chit and ego.
As the name suggests, it is associated with some kind of flying. In this bandh our pranic energy starts flying in to Sushmana. This bandh is applied on empty stomach and exhaled position. It can be done sitting and standing. But for learning and experiencing it in strong way one suggests it to be performed while standing.
Stand with feet 1-1.5 shoulder width apart. Raise chest and lower chin comfortably on to it. Bend forward keeping your hands on your thighs. Inhale fully through nose and then exhale fully. Suck in your stomach as if touching it with your spine. Slowly without removing the neck and stomach lock, come up into standing position with hands on the frontal side of pelvic. Take leverage from the hands to make the stomach lock more acute. Hold as long as possible and then remove stomach lock, bend down again, remove your chin lock and inhale slowly to prepare for next cycle. Stomach is sucked in from both above and below the navel. With the help of this, one experiences Unmani.
With Udiyaan bandh both Ida and Pingla get balanced, cause Sushamana to open and pran flies into the Sushumana. Those who practice it regularly, keep young. It massages the digestive organs. When diaphragm is lifted, heart muscles are lightly massaged. It removes toxins from digestive system and increases the gastric fire. If this bandh is properly applied, it generates the other two bandhas automatically also. Through experience one will know it.
This bandh is in the region between anus and scortum in men and at the end of cervix on the mouth of Uterus in women, as shown in the sketch above. This area is contracted and lifted up while sitting in Padmasan or in Sidhasan, when the heel is also pressing it. The lower abdomen gets sucked in towards the spine. Apan vayu which normally flows downwards (operates in the area between navel and anus), it is made to go up and meet pran. It helps us to gain control over secretions which flow downwards, i.e. seminal flow, urination and defecation. It should not be misused. It is seen that while sitting in an asan if we fix our gaze at the nose tip or even contract our pupils just a fraction Moolbandh is experienced. All learned readers might already been knowing this or can try to experience.
Pranapanau Naadbindu moolbandha chaiktaam,
gatwa yogasya sam sidhi yachato na atra sanshayah,
Apan pranyorekyam kshayo mootr purishayah,
Yuva bhawati vridhoapi satatam mool bandhanat,
ApaneUrdhvge jate samprapate vanhimandlam,
Tadanal shikha deergha jayate vayu naahata. 64-66/3 /HYP.
With help of moolbandh a yogi joins downwards flowing pan with pran and bindu and thus grant sidhi to the yogi, there is no doubt about it. By joining of Pran and Apan and reduction in urine even an old person becomes young. When apan moves up and joins the realm of fire there, digestive fire gets stronger.
It is said that once we learn these three bandhas, we are at the cross roads, either we can go back in to the world to enjoy bhog or we can take the path of self realization.
Many different combinations to practice the above bandhas are available in various texts but we have discussed only the basics of it from a practical point of view. Lots of scientific research work has been done by stalwarts like Sh.BKS Iyenger, Paramhamsa Sivananda ji and Paramhamsa Satyananda Saraswati ji. Paramhamsa Vishudhananda ji took it to still greater heights with his Chatwari kriya and all the things he use to do. The Sadhna paksh of his lineage has been dealt with in detail in the writings of his great disciple Gopinath Kaviraj ji. Sant Gyaneshwar ji’s interpretations are also good to read and meditate on. Great detailed work on pranic energy has also been done by Swami Yogeshwaranand ji of Yog Niketan, Rishikesh.
One is of the view that without understanding the theoretical part and philosophical part, the complete benefits of the technical part will not be experienced. Understanding of the fundaments is essential for serious sadhaks. People can just follow the technical part alone to receive some benefits on the physical level. For details, one can refer to the works by the above mentioned gurus, which are easily available in print as well as on the internet. But it is comprehendible only to a sadhak, who experiences and does not just read it. These jewels are spread in various Upnishads, Purans, Patanjal yoga sutras, Hatha yoga pradeepika, Goraksh samhita and many Tantrik texts to name a few. Those interested in deep study, may read the originals and with the help of able guides experience them too.……Shaktanand.
…………………………………………………………….To be continued to part IV.