Understanding Bandh: the internal energy locks
In Yogic Sadhanas Bandh plays a crucial role and helps the sadhak in not only attaining health at physical level but also awakening the dormant kundalini Shakti. With the performance of these three bandhs the rechack (exhalation) and poorak (inhalation) ceases to function. With this the senses become purified and Kevalya (enlightenment) takes place. Bandh means binding, tying a bond, tie, to catch, hold captive, arrest, fix, hold back, restrain, shut, close, to redirect, check, obstruct, etc
Analogously, it is like damming of a river, or building a bridge, or building over the sea. Spiritually it is a vehicle to traverse the ocean of samsara (worldly existence) and to reach the other shore of enlightenment.
There are 3 bandhs- Moola, Uddiyan and Jalandhar. The fourth - Mahabandh is a combination of all three. How is that a group of only for practices is considered equal to or of greater importance than the hundreds of asana, pranayama and mudra practices and their variations?
To understand this let us understand the concept of Lock and mechanics of bandhas.
The concept of Lock-
Primarily, in the practice of bandh, locking or contracting certain muscles on physical level leads to a subtle process of ‘unlocking’ on mental and Pranic levels. Bandhas simultaneously affects the physical, Pranic, mental. Psychic and causal bodies. They have far reaching effects because they are associated with energy centres in the spine and brain. Therefore, bandhas are more dynamic, explosive and immediate in effect than simple contraction of muscles.
The mechanics of Bandhas-
As there are tree bandhs, there are 3 main muscle groups involved- perineal, abdominal and cervical (neck) muscles. Contraction of these muscles affects the nervous, circulatory, endocrine and energy systems. When a muscle is contracted a nerve impulse is relayed to the brain., triggering other neuronal circuits and nervous centres. This in turn affects our state of consciousness. In response to this stimulation the brain adjusts its firing patterns
For example- Moolabandh stimulates both the sensory motor and the autonomic nervous systems in the pelvic region. When moolbandh is performed, pelvic stimulation activates parasympathetic fibres emerging from the pelvic spinal cord. Parasympathetic fibres emerge from the cervical (neck) and sacral (pelvic) region only, while sympathetic nervous fibres emerge from the thoracic (upper back and lumbar (lower back) areas.
Likewise, Uddiyan bandh compresses the digestive organs, adrenal glands, kidneys and most importantly, solar plexus. This region is also called as- ‘brain in the stomach’ is squeezed and in return a flood of energy is generated in the abdomen and chest. The energy has healing qualities and is experienced consciously as beneficial, enhancing our sense of wellbeing. Uddiyan bandh tones the sympathetic nervous system, encouraging it to work more efficiently.
Jalandhar Bandh (throat compression) stretches the next, pulling the spinal cord and thus the brain. This has subtle effects on the pituitary and pineal glands while the forward flexion affects the thrudoid, parathyroid and thymus glands. At the same time it stimulates the parasympathetic spinal area in medulla oblongata which regulates the respiration, heart rate, blood pressure etc. finally it also compresses the carotid sinuses which help in lowering the blood pressure. By reducing the sympathetic tone, one achieves a sense of rest, relaxation and general wellbeing
So to summarise, we can now understand and say that performing bandhs leads to general wellbeing of muscles and internal organs, increased blood supply,