Tag Archive: Prana


Infusing the mind with love

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For the most part people tend to approach life either from a rational, intellectual level or an intuitive, emotional level. It’s rare to find a fully integrated person capable of living life and seeing the world from both perspectives, simultaneously feeling, intuiting and rationalising what they see and do. This is because for most of us there’s a clash between the heart and mind. Yet there doesn’t have to be a clash, we don’t have to choose the heart or the mind. As humans, we’re capable of integrating the rational and the emotional centres of being, and when we do, an entirely new perspective begins to develop, and a new type of intelligence emerges. This is Yoga, a process of joining together and integrating all aspects of our being, a process that happens on a psychological, physiological and energetic level.

Although there are many methods used to integrate our mental and emotional states of being, those ingenious yogis of the past, using their reverse engineering insights gleaned from lifetimes of meditative practice, developed a very simple technique. This technique, capable of building a bridge between heart and mind, is called Jalandhara Bandha.

Practice:

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  1. Sitting in a relaxed posture, begin by focusing on your breath.
  2. As you inhale, tilt your head forward, allowing your chin to drop down onto your chest or as close to it as feels comfortable.
  3. As you exhale, slowly lift your head and tilt it backwards.
  4. Continue in this way for ten breaths. Then relax. Slowly increase the length of time spent doing this exercise and make sure not to move your head too fast as you can damage your neck if you do.

Energetically, Jalandhara Bandha is said to seal the upward flowing prana and reverse its flow in the body, sending it down into the heart. This is an important aspect of yogic theory. Using the language of energy, yogins say, when the upward flowing energy and the downward flowing energy reverse their direction, they fuse together. When these two energies fuse, a third energy is created, that energy is known as kundalini. As kundalini rises, the mind expands into Samadhi. When Jalandhara is integrated with the other bandhas, we create this reverse flow.

Neurologically, Jalandhara stimulates the nerves of the heart and throat, and lights up the frontal lobes and emotional centres in the brain, while on a more physical body level, moving the head in this way increases the pumping action of the other bandhas on the cerebrospinal fluid, further sharpening and clearing the mind while detoxing the brain.

Integrated practice:

  1. As you breathe in, apply Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, and Jalandhara Bandha.
  2. As you breathe out, release all three Bandhas. Continue in this way for ten breaths. Increase the number of breaths slowly. This practice has much deeper effects than are immediately obvious.

Personal experience

My own experience of Jalandhara Bandha was a little uncomfortable, as all of these spontaneous things tend to be. I woke up one morning with a stiff neck. Initially I thought it was caused by a draft in the room or a bad sleeping position. So I got up and went to work. I sat down to begin my workday, and over the period of about half an hour I noticed my neck becoming increasingly tense. Eventually it got to the point where I couldn’t even turn my head. So I went home sick and got into bed. And that’s where I spent the next three days, lying there, in complete stillness. On the third day, I woke up and all the tension in my neck had completely disappeared. It was the morning of that third day, after a short breathing and meditative practice that I had my first kundalini awakening, the awakening I’ve described in my earlier posts.

Samadhi

A short animation I made to illustrate the realisation of unity and oneness brought about by the awakening of Kundalini.

Awakening the Heart

This is a short animated video I made to Illustrate the flow of energy during the practice of Uddiyana Bandha.

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The body’s innate intelligence is always inclined towards awakening and evolution. We just have to allow it to do what it does best by not getting in its way. 
 
I was nine years old when I first discovered that I could do Uddiyana bandha and nauli kriya, although at the time I had no idea what they were called. In fact, I didn’t even think there were names for these weird belly gymnastics I was able to do. I just started doing them one day and thought they looked cool. I also got a kick from freaking out  my friends and family. It wasn’t till much later that I found out these odd belly maneuvers were actually practices from yoga used to cleanse the organs and stimulate the brain and nervous system as part of the awakening process. With this understanding of what I’d been doing came the realisation that I’d been practicing yoga and preparing my body and mind since before I was even aware that something called yoga actually existed.
 
Awakening the Heart
When we begin the practce of uddiyana bandha, Nauli Kriya, and agni sara, we’re using the diaphragm and abdominal muscles like a pump to draw kundalini up into the heart. Energetically this has an opening or awakening affect, the result of which is a type of hyper intuitive and empathic state of being.
 
As the heart opens it can feel as if it’s simultaneously melting and exploding. This is a sensation that comes in waves, where it builds up, explodes and slowly fades into an after-glow. Then the cycle begins again. As this is happening there’s a sense of a complete outpouring of love from the centre of your being. 
 
Physically, these practices are unmatched in their ability to tone and strengthen the diaphragm and core muscles while massaging all the internal organs, including the heart. Other physical benefits include weight loss and correcting of the posture (another essential element of martial arts and yoga).
 
Awakening
Uddiyana Bandha stimulates and wakes up the mid brain structures, the emotional centres of the brain.
 
Martial connection
In the Warrior traditions of Japan there’s special emphasis placed upon the abdomen. In fact it plays such an important roll not only in martial arts, but in daily life, that the Japanese developed an entire set of exercises and practices which they called Haragei (belly arts).
 
I’ll post more on this subject tomorrow including instructions on how to do Uddiyana, Nauli and agni sara. But before I do that I’m just going to finish a short animation that illustrates the flow of energy during Uddiyana practice, which I’ll include a link for here in just a few minutes 🙂
 
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