In Yoga we know three bhandas: Moola Bhanda, Uddiyana Bhanda and Jalandhara Bandha. The Sanskrit word “Moola” has many different meanings, but it one simple translation is “root”, whereas “Bhanda” means “lock”. So in English we could call Moola Bhanda the “root lock”. The name refers to the location of this bhanda close to the root of the spine, or the root of the body, the perineum. It also indicates the connection of this bhanda with the mooladhara chakra, the root chakra.,
What is a Bhanda?
As mentioned above, bhandas can be translated as “body locks” or “energy locks”. The physical and energetic contraction of the bhandas rechannel the nadis (energy channels) in the body. So while Pranayama activates the flow of prana, the bhandas guide the direction of this energy and prevents it from flowing out of the body.
Bhandas are a very important yoga-tantra practice which is mentioned in many different important scriptures. One of the most detailed descriptions of the bhandas can be found in the third chapter of the well known “Hatha Yoga Pradipika”. Furthermore they are also depicted in the “Yoga Chudumani Upanishad” and the “Gherand Samhita”.
moola bandha is the physical trigger point for this chakra
Location of moola bandha in the physical body
The location of the moola bhanda in the physical body is different for men and women. In the female body, the bhanda is located at the cérvix and can be contracted with the vaginal muscles. In the male body the bhanda is between the anus and the scrotum. When we practice moola bhanda we contract the muscles in these locations. However, it is important to be aware of the fact, that moola bhanda is not only a physical but also a pranic technique. This means that by contraction our physical body muscles we make the prana, the energy rise up in our body. Actually, the physical contraction of the muscles is merely a technique to locate a psychic body component. I am going to discuss the pranic effects of moola bhanda later in this essay and focus on the medical benefits first.
When we start practicing moola bhanda, we learn to focus on, isolate and contract muscles that we usually never activate consciously. So we begin to become aware of hiherto unknown body parts. This leads to an increased blood supply to these muscles and to an activation of the nerves in this region. Consequently new elements of our brain are stimulated. It is recommended to combine moola bhanda with Pranayama. In this case, the blood is accumulated around the waist due to the breathing technique. The contraction of moola bhanda improves the circulation of this accumulated blood. In
For women: practicing moola bhanda on a regular basis can alleviate pain during menstruation. However, women who do experience a longer absence of their menstruation are recommended not to practice moola bhanda because this might keep the energy from flowing downwards and thus be contraproductive. In this case it might be best to consult a Yoga teacher and/or a doctor.
The practice of moola bhanda is very beneficial before and during pregnancy and can be practiced any time up to the day of the childbirth. Contracting moola bhanda will help the pregnant woman to maintain the elasticity of the vaginal muscles which prooves to be very helpful for a less painful delivery. Furthermore practicing moola bhanda immediately after childbirth will help the woman to retone the muscles which were immensely stretched during pregnancy and during the delivery of the baby.
Futhermore the practice of moola bhanda is a very good treatment for women suffering from prolapse, leucorrhoea and urinary incontinence.
For men: Contracting moola bhanda regularily can help to prevent the leakage of semen as well as inguinal hernia. It also balances the production of testosterone in the body and therefore balances the mind.
During the phase of the menopause, practicing moola bhanda prooves to be very beneficial for women as well as for men. This helps to rebalance hormonal changes and therefore prevents typical symptoms such as lethargy, irritability, depression, high blood pressure, giddiness etc.
Regarding sexuality, the practice of moola bhanda can on the one hand be helpful to maintain a fulfilling and healthy love life up to an old age. On the other hand it can help to transform the sexual energy and rechannel it in order to create a higher spiritual awareness.
If not performed properly the contraction of the moola bhanda can cause digestive problems, eg. Indigestión. Furthermore, persons who suffer from hernia, piles or similar diseases should be very careful when practicing moola bhanda. Generally spoken, persons who suffer from diseases that are caused by an overly high energy level loke high intracranial pressure or high blood pressure, should take care and consult an experienced yoga teacher. This is because practicing moola bhanda causes the prana to rise in the body and might therefore increase symptoms related to high energy levels.
All the bandhas are powerful instruments to relax body and mind. The practice of moola bhanda increases the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, therefore lowering the breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure. It also stabilizes the brain waves and therefore has a very soothing effect on the mental condition. Furthermore the endocrine system is rebalanced, therefore balancing and calming the mind and balancing the personality. As mentioned above, practicing moola bhanda makes us become aware of body parts which we usually do not perceive consciously. This strengthens the connection between body and mind and helps enhances the balance between the two.
Moola bhanda is also said to be a strong psychosomatic trigger point. Thus, the contraction and relaxation of this bhanda may result in the experience of very strong emotions. This practice allows suppressed tensions, anxieties and desires to be released and can bring up emotions from the subconscious and unconscious depths of our psychis. We should understand this as an important cleansing process which allows us to purify our body and mind. Therefore, it is important to start the practice of moola bhanda in a slow and careful way. The yogic ideal would be to observe the surfacing of the sofar hidden emotions as an unattached witness.
Pranic effects of moola bhanda - the mooladhara chakra
As explained above, moola bhanda has very strong positive effects on a physical level. However, the main effects are on a pranic level. This also means that the mastery of the moola bhanda cannot be achieved by the physical contraction of the indicated muscles alone. We have to combine it with the psychic contraction. As the name of this bhanda indicates, it is strongly related with the mooladhara chakra, the so called root chakra. The muscular contraction of the moola bhanda has to be understood as our contact point to this chakra and the nadis in this region. Therefore, the real work does not take place on a physical but on an energetic level.
The mooladhara chakra is the first of the seven chakras which are located along the spine and is associated with the element of the Earth. “Mooladhara” can be translated as “the support of the root”, “the keeper of the beginning” or the “bearer of the foundation”. Hence, mooladhara chakra is often called the “root chakra”. The mooladhara chakra is important for our rooting and grounding, our connection with mother earth. It moves the prana from the earth up through our feet and legs and stabilizes this energy. The prana is then moved upwards through the spine, flowing through the other six chakras. The mooladhara chakra is also enables us to release our negative emotions towards the earth. The desires and emotions correlating with this chakra are instinctual. Therefore a dysfunctioning will manifest itself in a tendency to overeat, hoard material items and money. On a physical level, a disbalance of the mooladhara chakra may lead to diseases affecting the sacrum, the spine and the excretion and sexual organs.
The mooladhara chakra is the source of the sushumna nadi which is located along the spine, connecting all the seven chakras. However, mooladhara is not only the root of sushumna but also of all other energy channels in our body (there are over 72 000!). Through all these different nadis, the moola bhanda is connected with certain areas of the brain. The practice of moola bhanda will activate the mooladhara chakra and therefore stimulate dormant regions of our brain.
It is said, that the energy kundalini shakti, resides in the root shakra in the symbolic form of a coiled sleeping snake. When aroused, the snake will start making its way up through the sushumna nadi in the spinal cord until it reaches sahasrara. Sushumna nadi is one of the most important energy channles in our body. Sushumna can be imagined as an inverted tube with pressure inside. Thus, moola bandha works as the sealing on the lower part of this tube and prevents the prana from moving downward and flowing out of the body. When we practice moola bhanda, the downflowing energy (called apana) is redirected upwards and concentrated. “In time and with persistent practice we can refine our energy and convert it into highly concentrated force, just as a laser can convert the energy from a ten watt bulb into a light source which concentrates energy over a one inch surface more intense than the surface of the sun” (Swami Buddhananda 1996: 27)
The best position for practicing mooladhara bhanda is siddhasana, because here we press one heel against the region of the mooladhara chakra. This makes the location and contraction of the indicated muscles a lot easier. If a person is not able to sit in siddhasana, she/he can sit in any other meditative position in which the knees are resting on the ground, e.g. padmasana, swastikasana, vajrasana or ardha padmasana. A good preparatory practice can be ashwini mudra, also called Horse gesture. (cf. Yoga Kriya p. 487)
The practice of moola bhanda is most powerful when combined with Pranayama. Pranayama enables us to activate and control the flow of prana, while the contraction of moola bhanda directs the Prana upwards and prevents it from flowing out of the body. With every inhalation prana flows upwards in our body and with every exhalation it flows downwards. The retention of breath – called Kumbhaka – creates a balance between inhalation and exhalation. When we practice moola bhanda combined with Kumbhaka the flow of prana can effectively be redirected upwards. For beginners it is recommended to first practice moola bhanda combined with internal breath retention (antar kumbhaka) because this technique is easier. Once the practioner feels comfortable with this, she/he can proceed to practicing moola bhanda combined with external breath retention (bahir kumbhaka). This practice is more difficult but also more powerful, because the prana flowing down during exhalation will be redirected upwards. It is important to note, that kumbhaka should always be practiced with jalandhara bandha, otherwise it might cause serious health damages.
Mandlik, Shri Vishwas (2011): Yoga Parichay. Advance Yoga Course. Nashik: Yoga Chaitanya Prakasham
Swami Buddhananda (1996): Moola Bandha. The Master Key. Munger: Bihar School of Yoga
Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1984): Kundalini Tantra. Munger: Bihar School of Yoga.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1981): A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Bihar School of Yoga
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