Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Yoga > The Importance of Bandhas and Mudras Explained Very Simply

As a dedicated practitioner of yoga for more than 15 years now, I have always been very partial to one of the 8 limbs of yoga - asanas. A few years ago I started enjoying pranayama. And although I do practice certain mudras and try to incorporate bandhas in my practice I had never really understood the importance of the latter two. This is fine because mudras and bandhas are usually introduced after some proficiency has been attained in the practice of asana and pranyama. 

But the latest issue of the Yoga magazine, published by the Bihar School of Yoga helped demystify the mudras and bandhas. Understanding how they impact our energy body, and hence our complete entity, motivates one to understand these subjects deeper and also make them a part of our regular practice. 

Mudras: In the article entitled 'Hatha Yoga' by Swami Niranjananda Saraswati, it is explained that mudras and bandhas are ways to enhance the workings of the energy body. As observed by various scientific experiments under Kirlian photopgraphy (a camera that captures the images of our energy body) it has been seen that even simple mudras of the hand (some mudras even involve the whole body in a combination of asana, pranayama, band and visualisation techniques) help to preserve and reabsorb the energy that may otherwise get dissipated or wasted. To give you an example, in the jnana mudra, the hand gesture of joining the tips of the thumb and index finger, it was observed that the energy that would have dissipated from the hands, re-enters the body. In other words when one practices mudras in accordance with yogic scriptures and under the guidance of an experienced teacher, the energy can be recycled within our body.  

Bandhas: The same article explains the application and importance of bandhas very simply. Bandhas are locks in the physical body that impact the pranic or the energy body. Bandhas are applied in the three major areas of our body where there is a large mass of nerves. One group of nerves is in the neck region, another is behind the navel in the abdomen and the third is near the rectum. Physically, these are centres that collect sensations from the body and deliver them to the brain. But when you apply a bandha, these sensations are contained in one region and the energy flow is limited only to one place! "Why must we do that?" you may be wondering. 
Swami Niranjananda explains this through an example. "When a running tap is closed it builds pressure. Gradually the pressure increases. Then when the tap is opened, the pipe throws the water swiftly through the tap, and the water pressure normalises. Similarly, the use of bandhas unites the energy by blocking it, then by releasing the bandha the energy is distributed more evenly."

For more details on Mudras and Bandhas refer to the book Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. 

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