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Ashwini Bandha vs Mulabandha.

January 6, 2012

My teacher friend, Jen Ingram from Durban, shared her story on Mulbandh with me: ”’I am amused on further question on Mulbandh. Prior to the teacher training exam, I was indeed on a Mulbandh quest! Each book I read gives a slightly different version and I’m sure the version depends on individuals’ ability to connect. My Hatha classes know that for the last 3 months intimate questions have been asked. And my only male colleague at the yoga centre has been bombarded with questions too! It has become a joke..”

H.David Coulter, a doctor and long-time yogi, says, Ashwini Bandh is often confused with Mulbandh. In Ashwini Bandh, pelvic diaphragm, anus and gluteals, (butt muscles), are drawn upward and inward. It is to keep the base of the abdominopelvic cavity sealed during sharp increases in intra-abdominal pressure, such as diarrhea.

Mulbhand is much more delicate. It is a milder activation of the pelvic diaphragm and the overlying muscles of the uro-genital triangle which includes the muscles of the genitals and the urethra. Mulbandh does not counter intra-abdominal pressure but seals the uro-genital energy within the body, controlling and restraining it during breathing and meditation exercises. If attention is placed on the point between the anus and genitals when sitting beautifully upright there is slight tension in the genital muscles and less or none in the gluteals – this is root lock.

If you do the same in slumped position with the back rounded, the tension is more in the anal triangle and it is Ashwini Bandh rather than Mulbandh.

The best posture for exploring root lock is modified cat. From kneeling cat/ cow position, bring your chin to the floor, swing the elbows out to the sides and bring the upper chest as low as possible. Arch back deeply and peer as if you were looking under a bed for a lost object! Tighten the perineal region generally. Exposed anus brings attention towards the front of the diamond-shaped perineum, i.e the uro-genital triangle. Even if squeezed a lot, the gluteals remain relaxed. Then sit and try replicate feeling.

The anus will be lifted by beginners but with practice, the sensation will move forward. This creates an activation of what feels like a true luminous vertical line from base to crown. My own experience in the last few months where I have worked a lot on relaxing the anal triangle and emphasizing the uro-genital triangle, is that it releases the whole sacro-iliac and lumbar region. Several people with severe lower back problems have felt relief. In my early training in Iyengar style the instruction was ‘move the skin of the buttocks across the sacrum outwards’. As a pinched sciatic nerve was a major problem for me at the time, I found enormous relief. I had my little mantra when my back really hurt: ‘Walk tall and spin out!’ and it worked. The actual action is a release in anal triangle. So these have been my explorations with the practice of Mulbandh. Thanks for asking!’
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Pritam Hari Kaur Khalsa lived in an ashram in Germany before she came here two decades ago. Dedicated to natural foods, healing and yoga, she is the lead trainer for the Kundalini Yoga teacher training program in SA, as taught by Yogi Bhajan. She created a revolutionary picture book in yoga, called The Kundalini yoga Fan, that makes the complex Kundalini Yoga instructions easy to follow whilst staying in the meditative consciousness of practice. She and her husband now live on an eco-village farm community in the Western Cape. khalsa@kundaliniyoga.co.za

 

Visit the YAA online shop to purchase your Kundalini Yoga Fan

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