Sensing and mindfully releasing and activating the bandhas is key to balance on and off the mat: the bandhas define your center and create your stable core. Once you're established in your center, you can choose to move out, around or even upend yourself and you'll feel solid and oriented, because you can feel and return to center from any position.
The bandhas coincide with the three structural diaphragms of the body: the pelvic, respiratory and vocal diaphragms, or the pelvic floor, breathing diaphragm and vocal "cords." Learning how to activate and relax these areas is key for modulating - not controlling - the breath. Allowing the movements to synchronize is helpful for freeing holding patterns, the breath and allowing yourself to move as a unified whole.
Often in yoga classes we focus on how to engage these areas - pelvic floor, respiratory diaphragm and vocal cords in mula bandha, udiyana bandha and jalandara bandha respectively, as well as ujayyi breathing - without focusing on how to also mindfully release. The point of the bandhas is not to always engage but to mindfully engage, making intelligent choices about how we're most supported in various activities.
Activation of the bandhas supports the spine through complex movements and meters the breath. Release allows stress relief and activation of the relaxation response. Learn how to choose your state of mind through physical engagement: do yoga!
Leave a comment about how the bandhas help you do what you do and be entered into a drawing to receive a recording of this week's class!