Mula Bandha: a cosmic collision of yoga and the pelvic floor
It’s no secret that yoga can improve mental and physical core strength, intimacy, and even heighten sexual pleasure. Yoga combines focused attention on sensation, being fully present in the moment, improved self-image, and increased relaxation, with a stronger core and pelvic stability.
So, let’s look at the pelvic-strengthening effects of yoga. More specifically, the Mula Bandha!
Have you ever heard the instruction “apply Mula Bandha” or “activate the locks” in a yoga class? Well, you’re about to find out what all this really means.
So, what is the ‘Root Lock’?
The name, from Sanskrit – Mula (or Moola) meaning ‘root’, and bandha meaning ‘lock’ or ‘to bind’ - is an exact translation. In yogic philosophy the Mula Bandha is the root source of energy for our body, located at the base of the spine.
On the physical level, practising Mula Bandha creates attentiveness in the supportive musculature of the pelvis. This increases the stability of the pelvis, and, since the pelvis is the seat of the spine, its stability creates a safe environment for spinal movement. Thus, Mula Bandha strengthens and teaches the importance of the solid foundation that should underlie any movement, no matter how basic.
How to apply Mula Bandha
Although the pelvis itself is primarily a bony structure supported with ligaments, the pelvic floor consists of muscle fibres and fascia (connective tissue). On a physical level, engaging Mula Bandha consists of a contraction - a muscular uplift in the floor of the pelvis.
The most superficial physical level of Mula Bandha corresponds to the “contract your anus” instruction. This muscle is connected by ligaments to the tip of the spine, which when you contract draws the Muladhara chakra upward. At first, you will unconsciously contract other muscles of the pelvic region. The next step is to make these unconscious contractions conscious.
This involves isolating the contraction of the perineum (the region between the anus and the genitals), without contracting the anal sphincter. The deepest level is similar to Kegel exercises.
For full Mula Bandha you must actively and consciously lift the pelvic diaphragm. This diaphragm is the innermost layer of the pelvic floor; a sling of muscles which extends from the pubis to the coccyx.
As you learn to apply Mula Bandha and engage this deep internal contraction, you will actively feel the lift under the bladder and uterus (or prostate), and rectum. Relax the surface muscles and feel this contraction deep inside, at the base of the abdomen. Without using any extra muscles to isolate this contraction of the pelvic diaphragm.
Get the inside right and the outside falls into place
Root locks can be incorporated into almost any yoga pose, and are said to increase energy and vitality. You will also find your yogic practice reaches a whole new level as you find balance within your body, a sense of roundedness, stability, and confidence, allowing you to really start to fly in your arm balances and inversions!
It might seem surprising that such a cosmic journey can begin with a direction as earthy as “contract your anus”. But as we escape the pull of gravity, we shed the worn-out launch equipment and begin to soar. We learn to use more and more refined means to move effortlessly towards the goal that is yoga – contracting not just ‘Uranus’ but the whole cosmos ;)
So, next time you make your way onto your mat ‘contract Uranus’ is not a bad metaphor, but rather the first step on a trip towards contracting your cosmic identity!
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And to boost your yoga practice even further there’s Elvie Trainer, the award-winning pelvic floor trainer.