Mula bandha is one of the three “locks” used in hatha yoga to locally contain the flow of energy or prana. The three bandhas are typically used in advanced pranayama, but mula bandha can also be effectively employed in asana practice. Mula bandha can be performed in a physical and external manner engaging the skeletal muscles; it can also be felt as a subtle and internal energetic process. Mula bandha should be practiced individually at first, and then it can be incorporated with the other bandhas, asanas, pranayamas and eventually mudras.
To engage mula bandha, exhale and contract the muscles between the pubic bone and the tailbone, pulling the perineum up in towards the abdomen. As you pull the pelvic floor up, feel the lower deep abdominal muscles engage and pull towards the spine. Initially you will need to contract the anus and the genitals, but over time work on relaxing these areas and isolate the perineum (the space between the anus and genitals). Mula bandha can be engaged from 15 to 100 percent of the contraction and can either be held for as long as possible or used by rhythmically engaging and releasing the contraction with the breath. Do not strain while holding, or hold the breath in or out when engaging mula bandha.
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Using mula bandha with yoga postures has many benefits. It helps build core body strength, enables you to hold the postures longer, protects the low back muscles and makes the postures safer. Mula bandha also increases your energy and vitality, and improves concentration and mental clarity. Using mula bandha to support the asana from your core body allows the distal muscles to relax, enabling the body to use less energy to hold the posture.
While using mula bandha with asana can increase core stability, it can only be fully engaged when the spine is straight and long. It is also difficult to feel and experience the energetic effects of this bandha when done with yoga postures, so it is recommended to first practice mula bandha in a seated meditation pose (Accomplished Pose, Easy Pose, Half Lotus, Hero, Gracious Pose).