Breath and Bandha: Practice Continues

Yes, I was advised against practising yoga due to my lower back pain and ongoing treatment.

At this point, I remember that yoga is not just physical poses (Asanas). Perhaps to some, it is purely physical strength and health. (Eight Limbs of Ashtanga)

I would want yoga to be part of my journey inward.

So I am going to stay on my practice and journal along…….

Breathing Exercise Ujjayi

Ujjayi means victorious breath and is a way of regulating the flow of breath in an out of the body.

This is a good video by Kino Macgregor

Synergy of Breath and Bandha

Bandha literally means “lock”. It is a natural reflex for powerful movement of the body. We perform these locks when we are getting ready to lift heavy objects.  Physical action and muscle contraction are only a small part of bandha. Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha are the two most important valves in Ashtanga Yoga.

Mula Bandha is introduced with the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles.

Imagine, that you urgently need the toilet, but there isn’t one around, you’re probably already using Mula Bandha. To strengthen weak pelvic floor muscles, Keigel recommends that you practise stopping the flow of urine when using the toilet.

You achieve Uddiyana Bandha, by gently drawing the stomach inwards.

At the end of an exhalation, when the need to inhale begins, imagine a golden thread that is attached two fingers width under the navel, that is pulling in and up. This will keep the contraction.

Mula Bandha is linked to exhalation, Uddiyana Bandha to inhalation.

Both bandhas remain continuously activated throughout the whole practise.

Steps to practice

1. Lie completely relaxed on the floor, on your back. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet to rest on the floor either side of your hips.

2. Shut your eyes and breathe calmly in and out through your nose. Lay one hand on your navel. You can feel how your abdomen rises with each inhalation and falls (navel falls into the floor) with the exhalation. What you are actually feeling, is the action of your diaphragm, which contracts under the ribcage during inhalation thereby pushing the abdominal organs forward.

3. With the next exhalation, activate Mula bandha gently (contract your pelvic floor muscles and keep your lower abdominals contracted)  and then Uddhyana Bandha (contraction of the core/abdominals) with the following inhalation.You should feel that the intercostals muscles between each rib stretch and expand and that the ribs move outwards and upwards. Now the stomach can no longer rise up, but the diaphragm is contracting like before.

The diaphragm presses against the abdominal organs that are being supported in front by Uddiyana Bandha and from below by Mula Bandha. As a result of this support of the abdominal organs during inhalation, the diaphragm lifts the ribcage.

4. Repeat this series of exhalation and inhalation for 5 sets.

5. After five long inhales and exhales holding the bandha, exhale, release the pelvic floor and inhale and exhale with no bandha feeling the abdomen expand and contract.

6. After the exhale, pause, contract the pelvic floor and try to keep the contraction for five breaths, tightening it after each exhale.

7. Lastly, release and breath normally. (Suggested to do 10 to 25 sets of breaths at a time)

Notice that during breathing, these two bandhas are inseparably connected. Both are necessary, to firmly support breathing.

Heartfully yours

Credit:

1. Ujjayi

2. Bandhas

3. Bandhas

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