Our daily existence wastes all natural, powerful, instinctive energy, life force, from our bodies. Yoga bandhas or the internal energy gates guide this stream of energy (prana) to the deprived regions (to replenish them) from the regions where prana is blocked up or held back. Bandhas drive the energy towards its focal point from where it is reallocated in a balanced manner to ensure unification and harmony in the body. Bandhas practice involves physical and muscular movement initially, with the passage of time a yoga student will be able to discern underlying mental and energetic models and work on the bandhas with a conscious effort; once mastered, these internal energy gates will remain active all the time, in wakefulness and in sleep. Beginners approach to bandhas is in relation to certain parts of the body, like muscles, glands and organs, while their true worth lies in being admired as the design for the distribution of essential power within the body. Once this channel of energy is organized, it brings into line and stimulates corporeal, emotional, mental and spiritual elements of the body.
Typically three bandhas, tri-bandha, are practiced together. They are:
- Mula bandha
- Uddiyana bandha
- Jalandhara bandha
They are worked on together or one at a particular time through kriya (action), asana (posture), pranayama (breathing), mudra (holy words), dharana (concentration) and dhiyana (meditation) practice. Once these internal gates of energy are activated, equilibrium exists between the Creator and the created, cause of all conflict and imbalance is removed and the life force is fully in line with nature. Children are innately gifted with active bandhas. The recommended order of learning the sequence is to start with bandhas, then asana, then pranayama, and then mudra. Tri-bandha is useful with advanced breathing and mudra chanting for serious seekers of spiritualism and unification with the celestial power.
To complement basic bandhas, there are certain adjunctive bandhas:
- Jivha bandha
It stops the mind from dithering; energetic and psychic amalgamation with the divine is achieved. Everlasting peace is gained.
- Ajna bandha
Ajna bandha coordinates the energy and enables it to move inward and upward to reestablish the severed link of love between man and his Creator.
- Nabhi bandha
Its practice entails an internal energetic method to gather, store and direct energy to other focal points.
- Swadhi bandha
Swadhi bandha balances and combines the life force in the middle and upper pelvis.
- Hri bandha
Hri, heart or core, is the region where our feelings reside; our feelings of fear, or insecurity; our inability to express our emotions. We hide ourselves in this area when we cannot deal with our pain or fear; this internal gate of energy, once kindled, recharges the feeling center making us deal with our emotions properly.
Collectively, yoga bandhas stimulate perception and intellect; and stop the aimless wandering of the mind. These internal energy gates streamline the flow of vitality or life force from dispelling outwards and direct it within the body allowing man to attain awareness about self, life, reality and supreme consciousness.