Tag Archive: Bandhas


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In short: Practice mula bandha to generate bliss, inner power and an expanded state of mind.
And here’s the explanation:
The maps we’re given, in the form of various disciplines, spiritual paths, religions, etc, are the result of a reverse engineering, or a retracing of the steps of those who have made the journey to self realisation before us. I know this seems obvious, but when you think about it, it’s really quite ingenius.
When the mind begins to expand, and the inner and outer realities of the yogin begin to merge, many changes take place in the brain, changes that initiate a new level of functioning in the nervouse system. This has the knock on effect of making the body operate in a way that promotes awakening and self realisation, a type of evolution.
When yogins of the past went through their awakening process they became aware of physical changes happening in their body as their mind began to expand. Understanding that the body and mind are locked into a two way process, in which changes in the mind effect the body and changes in the body effect the mind, many of these yogins categorised the physical manifestations of the enlightenment process which later became a road map of their journey for others to follow. We can see many of these road maps to enlightenment as we read through the ancient texts of the east and west, with a large concentration of them found within the texts of the yogic traditions.
Over the next while I’ll try to dilineate the techniques I’ve found particularly useful while walking my path, which is a synergy of martial and yogic disciplines. These techniques, in yogic terminology, consist of Bandhas (energy seals), Pranayama (breathing methods), and, to a lesser degree, asana (postures). So lets begin with mula bandha, a technique used in both yoga and the martial arts, a technique that acts as a key to unlock the door leading to bliss and inner power.
Mula Bandha – Seal of the base
Mula bandha, on a purely physical level, involves a contraction and drawing up of the perineal muscles (located between the anus and genitals). When first attempting to apply this muscle contraction it can be difficult to isolate the perineum from the other muscles in the area, but with regular practice it becomes a simple task. The idea is to practice it regularly throughout your day.
As with many yogic practices, over time, mula bandha becomes very subtle. In fact, there will come a time when you will be able to simply hold your concentration on the area of the perineum, and this alone will cause the muscles to contract and go into a light spasm. Once we have reached this level, a type of inner bliss begins to arise from within the body. I feel it as a mild orgasmic sensation that radiates outwards, flowing down the legs and up into the abdomen. It’s like a warm, tingling excitement spreading throughout the body.
A simple practice
Here’s a simple practice I like to use. Sitting in a comfortable position. Begin by establishing a slow and steady breathing pattern. Don’t try too hard. The idea is to relax, not get stressed. So just take a deep breath, let out a nice long sigh, and let your breathing settle on its own. Once you’ve done this, bring your attention to the inward and outward flow of the breath. As you breathe in, lightly apply mula bandha, and as you breathe out, release mula bandha. And that’s it. Practice in this way for as long as you like, it will bring you many physical and mental benefits.
Deepening the meditative state
As well as the sense of vitality and energy mula bandha is capable of bringing into our lives, it also has a deeper purpose. When related to the process of awakening and expanding consciousness, mula bandha has a special connection with the medulla, the hind brain. As we begin to use mula bandha on a more regular basis, something interesting begins to happen. We start to gain control over areas of the body science tells us we shouldn’t be able to control. One of the first manifestations of this that I noticed in my earlier years of practice was the calming effect mula bandha had upon the breathing* cycle and heart rate.
*Just as a point of interest, in the healing aspect of the martial arts, it is said that strong sudden pressure applied to the perineum is capable of restarting the lungs after they have gone into respiratory arrest.
Because the mind is so intimately connected with the breathing cycle (we’ll look at this in much more detail when discussing pranayama), the effect of a calm steady breathing cycle is a calm and undisturbed mind, which, in this state, begins to expand.
The martial connection
In the martial arts, we are taught an interesting technique that involves a stronger contraction of the perineum. Basically, as we are executing a physical technique, whether it’s a strike, throw, block, etc., we are taught to breathe out. And while breathing out we are taught to push down and expand the lower abdomen as we apply mula bandha. Although this feels counter intuitive at first, its effects are truly amazing. When we breathe and contract our muscles in this way, there is a kind of knitting together of the muscles in the lower and upper body. This knitting together allows the entire body to move as one unit, all in the same direction. The effects of this are a tremendous increase in physical power. So, as a result, you get these old, frail looking masters of the martial arts (who have perfected this technique) making what look like effortless flicks of the wrist, in defence to an attacker who ends up being flung through the air.
What’s even more interesting than the almost superhuman power these guys are capable of issuing is the remarkable sense of calm and serenity that they radiate. I often wonder if they’ve realised the connection to mula bandha.
Awakening
In terms of awakening the brain, and subsequently the mind, mula bandha awakens the hind brain. In the next post I’ll look at two closely related practices, those being agni sara (fire cleansing) and uddiyana bandha (flying upwards seal). Both of which deeply affect the emotional centres of the brain.
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I’d been meditating from the age of 12, and over the years had heard rumours and whispers of some mysterious place in the body that, when found and activated, was capable of unlocking the untapped potential of the human mind, catapulting the meditator into states of inner bliss, where he/she would experience oneness with all things. Since I first heard of its existence, I thought such a point was nothing more than a myth, just another story told to encourage spiritual seekers to stay on their path. That was until, as if by some strange twist of fate, at the age of 26, I experienced the effects of this point directly for myself.
 
 
It is said in the ancient Yogic texts of India that when the spiritual force, called Kundalini, rises up through the body, the tongue rolls back and the eyes turn in as the spiritual eye opens and the yogi enters through the door of Brahman to realise his/her true self. Ok, so that’s all a bit esoteric. Let’s see if we can get our heads around what I just wrote by changing our perspective and looking at it in terms of reverse engineering the body and mind.
 
Reverse engineering the awakened mind
As the mind begins to expand and wake up, its physical counterpart, the brain, goes through many structural and functional changes in a process called neuroplasticity. While these changes are happening in the brain, the body responds by changing and refining its own biological processes. As Yogis and Yoginis of the past went through the natural awakening process, catalysed by their meditative practices, they noticed many physical phenomena occuring in their body, phenomena that were caused by changes in their brain. Yogis, understanding that the brain and body are interconnected and comunicating in a two way process, realised that just as the awakened brain can change the body, an awakened body could just as effectively change the brain and, incidentally, trigger the expansion of the mind. It was from this understanding that the physical sciences of yoga were born.
 
So what are the physical body symptoms of an awakened mind? Well, the list is long, far too long for a single blog post, so instead of listing and explaing them all, I’ll name a few important ones and then focus on one that’s particularly significant to the awakening process. The following are a few important awakening symptoms of the physical body:
 
  • Spontaneous postures (asanas) and hand positions (mudras).
  • Severe, spontaneous changes in breathing patterns, ranging from rappid to extremely slow respiratory cycles.
  • Complete cessation of the breathing cycle for long periods of time.
  • Extreme changes in body temperature.
  • Spontaneous internal muscle contractions, called Bandhas.
Of all these symptoms, the one I’ll look at here is the spontaneous, internal muscle contractions called Bandhas. There are many Bandhas that have been recognised by traditional Yoga as vital ellements to the awakening process. The most important of these are Moola Bandha (contraction of the perineal muscles), Uddiyana Bandha (Contraction of the abdominal muscles), Jalandhara Bandha (contraction of the neck muscles), Kechari mudra (contraction of the tongue), and Shambavi mudra (contraction of the eyes). And of these, it is said that Kechari mudra is the king.
 
As the nervous system undergoes cleansing and physical changes, various muscle groups within the body are stimulated to contract in very specific ways. These contractions are what I’ve described as the Bandhas, above. As the bandhas are engaged, various parts of the brain and, therefore, mind are stimulated, which, over time, leads to expanded states of awareness. 
 
Kechari Mudra
Kechari mudra, described as king of the mudras, is the name used to describe a peculiar phenomenon in which the tongue moves back, behind the soft palate, and up into the nasal cavity where it rests against a point on the septum, otherwise known as the door of Brahman. It is this point on the septum that can catapult the yogi/yogini into super conscious states of extasy and bliss.  
 
A personal experience of Kechari Mudra
My experience of Kechari was a spontaneous one. But I’ve already described that experience in my previous post. So instead of writing it out again, let me talk about the after effects of the Kechari experience.
 
For months after my initial awakening, my tongue would spontaneously move into the kechari mudra position. During these mini awakening episodes, which often lasted for half an hour or more, I experienced dream like states accompanied by wave after wave of blissful, orgasmic energy washing over my body. All of these effects are great when in the safety of a meditation room, but not so safe, as I would come to realise, when they happen in the outside world. While in those dream like states, there were many occasions where I was brought back to my normal senses by the distant sound of a car horn, to find myself wandering across a busy road.
 
After a few months of spontaneous Kechari, I gained control over it, and was able to apply it at will. But by this time I’d gotten used to the energy flow it induced and was able to function normally while in an uplifted state of awareness. 
 
Some of the other notable things triggered by the practice of Kechari only began to kick in at a later stage, about six months after I first experienced it. One such effect was the unusual but definite connection made between my head and genitals. This was experienced as a type of orgasm. When my tongue entered the nasal cavity to touch the door of Brahman, it triggered a spasm of my perineal muscles. This would last for as long as I left my tongue in that position, and was enhanced by turning my eyes inward to look up at the location of my thrd eye. For all you knowledgable Yogis, this perineal muscle spasm is a dynamic form of moola Bandha, but very subtle and completely unforced.
 
Accompanying the activation of my perineal muscles was another unusual spasm, which I haven’t been able to find a name for in Yogic scriptures. This was the spasm of my soft pallet, which would contract and pulsate around the base of my tongue as my breathing slowed and almost came to a full stop.
 
The accumulated sensation of the kechari mudra practice was what I can only describe as a brain orgasm. This effect resulted in deep states of bliss and inner tranquility which continues to overflow into my surroundings to this day. Ultimately, Kechari leads to a feeling of connectedness to all beings and an ensuing feeling of love towards them.
 
In my next post, I’ll look at some of the other effects of Kechari Mudra and explore its connection to the path of the warrior. Plus, I’ll see if I can upload a short video clip of myself demonstrating Kechari mudra 😉
 
HAPPY NEW YEAR, AND MUCH LOVE TO ALL OF YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES 🙂
 
P.S, The image in this post was taken from www.sanatanamitra.com
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