What is “Mula Bandha”?


Mula bandha is the energetic lock which allows a yogi to perform challenging tasks with little or no effort.

Varvara Dame Tsepkova

Perhaps you heard the instruction “Apply mula bandha” or “Apply the locks” in a your yoga class. Honestly I think most of the people students do not really know what is it. In class there is usually not enough time to talk about all the details that are involved on the journey to find mula bandha. Also finding it needs some time to go into details about anatomy and practitioners need time to explore parts of their body. All practitioners that learn about mula bandha instantly boost their yoga practice. It is also important to know what this magical technique is, and what it will open for you as a yogi.

Mula bandha is technique which helps to contain and channel the energy that we associate with mula-dhara chakra. Mula-dhara chakra is located at the tip of your spine and it represents the stage of the consciousness where survival needs dominate. It also can represents our relationship with parents, family, environment, home, workspace, career money.

In Sanskrit, “mula” means root; “bandha” means a lock or binding. It is a physical action at first, and as you refine it it becomes more subtle – energetic.  

“Mula” can also refer to the root of all actions. The beginning of any action is the thought. To refine our actions we first will have internally work on our thoughts.  As we get to refine and bind thoughts – we also bring different  intention behind our actions – as a result the actions become more refined.

“Bandas” is a one of the yogic techniques and if it has to be applied —along with asanas, kriyas (purifying actions), laya (meditative absorption), yamas (ethical restraints), and dharana (concentration). Those yogic techniques lead the practitioner to experiences that transcend the banal.


Why Use the Root Lock?

There many important reasons to use mula bandha, on a physical level during your asana practice it will create attentiveness in the pelvis area. Awareness in pelvis area will increase stability, which is important for safe spinal movements. Practitioner will instantly feel more stable during asana practice, and this will give strong foundation for movement. As well it is said that mula-bandha cuts through the brahma granthi, the energetic knot of our resistance to change.  

As mula bandha is applied it lifts and compresses the bowel and lower abdominal region. The compression that is created together with breath creates pressure in the torso. You can think of it like an airplane pressure. This pressure can be changes to facilitate different movements. Overall it will allow the practitioner to feel lightness and fluidity. Each movement will be controlled and purposeful. The awareness of the body and movement creates yogic dance instead of asana after asana change.

Where in the beginning of identifying and learning to separating the mula bandha in your body will perhaps make it strange practice. But with time practitioner will find out about the subtle way of this bandha. And compression will become more subtle, energetic, and etheric.

The yogic movement itself will change and will come from outside to inside, the same way as the mind will find the switch from unconsciousness or darkness to the light or enlightenment.

Mula Bandha Step by Step

On a physical level, mula bandha consists of a contraction, a muscular lifting-up in the pelvic floor. Pelvis is not only a bony structure, but also a complicated net of muscle fibers and fascia. It is helpful to identify 3 different groups of muscular levels. Each group can be experienced and moved separately.

The first group of muscles can be identified with contraction of the anus. So go ahead and contract it, try to identify the muscles that contract and pull in the anus sphincter. This contraction is not mula bandha but it is first direction on the way to identify your mula bandha.

The muscle that you are using is connected by ligaments to the tip of the spine. So when this muscle is contracted you are drawing the mula-dhara chakra upward, as in mula bandha.

The tricky part is to identify that muscle draw it in and up, but relax the anus. The refinement of the muscles will take some time. The more conscious you are about the muscles that are contracting, means that you can identify what has to be relaxed.

Next level of mula bandha involves understanding of muscles  in the region between the anus and the genitals and perineal body. Perineal body extends inward from the perineum and is the insertion point for eight muscles of the pelvic floor. Go ahead and try to contract this part of pelvic floor without contracting the anal sphincter.

To fully isolate this contraction you might want to switch between perineum and anus contractions. If you consciously found the difference, than use this perineum contraction to isolate mula-bandha. This refinement carries the contraction of the bandha inward and upward, giving you a physical experience of the yogic process of moving from external to internal awareness.

On the next level of contraction of mula bandha will be similar to the Kegel exercises used to correct urinary incontinence and strengthen the vaginal walls.

To identify the mula bandha this way you have to identify the muscles that interrupt the urine flow.  Women can insert a finger into the vagina and contract the muscles used to cut off urination: If you feel tightness on the inserted finger, you are squeezing the right muscles. The contraction of this muscles is not mula bandha, but it you found those, you are on the way to find mula bandha. From there you have to also lift the pelvic diaphragm, mostly by contracting the muscles called the levator ani.

This diaphragm is the deeper layer of the pelvic floor.  Few muscles which extend from the pubis to the coccyx and work together to supports the upper half of the vagina, the uterus, the bladder, the prostate, and the rectum.

As you you learn to apply mula bandha in your practice, you will learn to engage this deep internal contraction. You feel the lift under the bladder, vagina and uterus (or prostate), and rectum. Relax all the surface muscles and just hold the inner contraction at the base of abdominal. Soon you will find the way to apply mula bandha without  without contracting either the anus or the exterior layers of the perineum.

Mula Bandha’s and Beyond.

Mula bandha contraction on the pranic level redirects energy in your body. The apana energy usualy flows downward from the navel in your body. Bu applying mula bandha you redirect some of this energy to join with upward movement of prana. By this you are redirecting the energy flow of your body to higher level of consciousness.

Mula bandha purifies the pranamaya kosha – one of the subtle sheaths of the energy that your body consists of. Eventually the mula bandha refinement will lead you to the enlightenment in your mind.

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Written by Varvara Tsepkova Dame

Varvara Tsepkova


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