A Glimpse of My Bandhas. ~ Judith Andersson

Via on Jul 1, 2013

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Years ago, when I first discovered yoga, I signed up for a beginners class not really knowing what to expect.

Some kind of movement, maybe—but instead of guiding our stiff bodies through movements, the teacher (a classically schooled ashtanga practitioner) kept us seated for the full hour.

Straighten the back, tuck the chin she dictated, deep inhale, complete exhale.

The weeks went by and she continued to drill us in ujjayi pranayama (yogic breath) followed by detailed instructions on how to “find” the bandhas (energy locks), before she finally let us move through our very first vinyasa.

All this talk of imagined threads and the idea of sucking ones anus in to the body (mula bandha), tucking the chin to the chest (jalandhara bandha) and not least the “lift” of the abdomen (uddiyana bandha) was confusing to say the least, but somehow all the seemingly meaningless breathing and pumping of the belly appeared to bring a sense of awareness of my body that was enough to make me return to class.

Even though it’s been ages since that first breathing drill, I’m still grateful for the thoroughness of my first teacher. Yes, I still struggle to engage my bandhas and No, I don’t fool my self to believe that I understand half of it (honestly, I’m often times completely ignorant of their existence).

But occasionally—on a good day—coached by a dedicated teacher or breathing with intention on my kitchen floor, it’s all coming back to me, the connection that makes my body open up and move with an ease I didn’t know possible—that’s when I get a glimpse of my bandhas. 

I know that there’s a discussion in the yoga world on when to introduce ujjayi pranayama or whether to even talk about bandhas.

If you already been introduced or just struggleled to grasp that “sucking” sensation of uddiyana bandha (which I believe to be the hardest one to grasp for most of us) these videos might be something for you:

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What are your thoughts and experiences? Please share in the comments below.

 

Judith AnderssonJudith Andersson is an Abyssinian Viking, gardener wannabe, death metal fan, yoga student and elephant journal editing apprentice. A lover of everything organic she’s often found experimenting—with sour dough in the kitchen on the quest of making the perfect injera—with the plants in her micro garden—and the abilities of her own body, on and of the mat.

 

 

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

 

{Photo: via Pinterest}

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3 Responses to “A Glimpse of My Bandhas. ~ Judith Andersson”

  1. Rogelio Nunez says:

    JUdith, Bandhas are amazing kriyas we can learn and do in asana and pranayamas, even in some other life activities….
    I am really surprised that any teacher would introduce these kriyas in a beginners class…..most beginners are not ready physically, mentally nor energetically….as you know asana practice help to clean out our energy systems, nadis, cakras, and prep the mind so that the energies can flow….even pranayama done too early in learning yoga, can be harmful…
    in the vids you shared these folks don't look like beginners to me….
    This is not just my opinion but from teachers much more experienced than I…
    I hope your article is not taken as cart blanche for teachers to go out and teach before students are ready…a regular asana class or practice will begin the process of the body doing the bandhas without focusing on them.

    • Judith Andersson says:

      Hi Rogelio. Thank you for your input. I defenetly see your point and I do agree to some extent. There's good reasons to why this isn't a common way to teach beginners, and definetly not a job for am inexperienced teacher. On the other hand I often feel that breath in general don't get the attention it deserves, yes there's a lot of talk about the importance of breath but in my experience very few teacher who takes the time to actually offer even the most basic education on breath (or even talking about the potential benefits AND harms of open up too much too fast) which I personally think is a shame as you then get students who spends years of regular practice without even getting the most basic aspects of the connection between movement and breath. My experience comes from TT student perspective. I go to TT to deepen my own practice, not to teach others, but even to some of my peers (who all have years of practice behind them) this have been the very first time they even come in contact with the basic concepts of breath which seems equally odd for someone with my own personal background.

      • Rogelio Nunez says:

        Hi JUdith, yes breath without it, we would die…..no Prana coming in or going out. I practice and teach Iyengar yoga, and as you may know, we give many instructions on how and why to do asana….for beginners it would be too much to give much detail on breath besides reminders to breath naturally, it has a great effect on the body and mind…we do say inhale on the way up out of pose and exhale going in like into Uttanasana…but doing kriyas like bandhas would be too much in my opinion…for beginners.
        I did try the exercise in the first vid you posted, worked nicely for me….ill use it in class one day with experienced students…
        thanks

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