As with Prāṇāyāma, the role and practice of Mudrā
needs to be considered from two distinct, but
complementary and developmental viewpoints.
In other words, there are Mudrā that are primarily
utilised within the context of Haṭha Yoga and there are
Mudrā that are utilised within the context of Rāja Yoga.
Within these two viewpoints, there are also those Mudrā
that can be applied in either context, depending on the
Saṃkalpa and Bhāvana employed by the practitioner.
As with Prāṇāyāma, the role and practice of Mudrā
Thus, before being taught Uḍḍīyana Bandha,
an essential precursor to Mūla Bandha,
there needed to be competence in sustaining Prāṇāyāma,
within a Vinyāsa Krama leading to a crown ratio of 22.214.171.124.
with the Pūraka, Antar Kumbhaka, Recaka and Bāhya Kumbhaka
each set at 12 seconds in a crown of 126.96.36.199. for 12 breaths.
Thus, a Vinyāsa Krama peak of almost 10 minutes sustaining the crown
ratio within a Prāṇāyāma practice, with the entire practice itself totalling
over 20 minutes, all performed with one technique, Nāḍī Śodhana.
This technique alone is already in itself demanding to sustain with
an inaudible softness, as if pouring oil slowly and smoothly amidst
an almost undetectable deftness of finger movement on the nostrils.
A further example of how there needs to be an effortless skill in working
with the Kumbhaka and how our fluency with all four components of the
breath sets a practice direction and evolution in that, amongst other goals,
it determines our readiness to incorporate the Tri Bandha into our Sādhana.
According to such as the Gheraṇḍa Saṃhitā,
Aśvinī Mudrā and Mūla Bandha are seen as very
different forms in terms of definition and application.
Regarding application, only Aśvinī Mudrā is focussed around
the repeated contraction of the anal sphincter muscles.
Whereas, Mūla Bandha is a single sustained contraction.
It also appears that there are differing certainties within
the modern use, definition and application of the two terms,
with a single contraction variant of Aśvinī Mudrā often being
passed off in ‘Krishnamacharya’ terminology, as if Mūla Bandha.
For example, Mūla Bandha being described as somethng you
take all the time whether sitting, talking, walking, or eating.
This would not be possible given T Krishnamacharya’s view of
what is Mūla Bandha and its relationship to Uḍḍīyana Bandha.
Comparing Mūla Bandha to Aśvinī Mudrā:
Aśvinī Mudrā can be an outcome of an effective Mūla Bandha.
If Mūla Bandha is good then Aśvinī Mudrā can follow automatically.
But not the other way round, as Aśvinī Mudrā is only
a localised contraction of the anal sphincters.
Also, Mūla Bandha is considered as complete,
whether or not Aśvinī Mudrā is there.
Also, the use of Aśvinī Mudrā can produce gas and
too much use can affect the peristaltic reflex.
Plus avoid in certain conditions such as haemorrhoids.
Āsana can be used for the same effect on these organs.
A direct Aśvinī Mudrā pushes the stomach forward,
so its contraindicated for Mūla Bandha.
Thus, Krishnamacharya’s view of what is Aśvinī Mudrā and what is
Mūla Bandha differed, both in terms of definition, technique, and
application, as well as regarding the student starting prerequisites,
Vinyāsa Krama and links to other layers of their Yoga Sādhana.
So Uḍḍīyana Bandha is the technique
for introducing Mūla Bandha.
Uḍḍīyana Bandha elevates Mūla Cakra,
having elevated it, you tie it
and each time it wants to slide
back down, you bring it back up.
Therefore opposite to techniques such as
Bhujaṅgāsana, which is counter to the principle
of Uḍḍīyāna and pushes the Mūla Cakra down.
With regard to the breath, inhale pushes down,
exhale brings up, Bāhya Kumbhaka tightens.
Then total effect should be in the Apāna area,
therefore exhale and Bāhya Kumbhaka important.
With regard to directional breathing,
if no Mūla Bandha then exhale can start from the navel.
If Mūla Bandha held then exhale from the navel is not possible.
The practice of Jālandhara Bandha requires the practitioner
to keep the spine straight, the head will be slightly forward.
So draw the head back as well, as it tends to come forward,
ie the centre of gravity in the head moves forward of the body.
If set right you will feel a little contraction in the abdomen.
So, align the spine up, draw the head and neck back, and tilt
the chin in, though not to the throat, the chest or to the heart.
Hands shouldn’t be used in Uḍḍīyana Bandha,
the effect should come from the exhale which
starts in the navel, as if pulling up a piece of string.
It must be pulled up and brought closer to the Maṇipūra.
If this is done properly, then very little to be done afterwards.
Exhale is followed by a small jerk as Uḍḍīyāna pulls the Mūla up.
In Practicing the Tri Bandha we engage with Haṭha teachings:
In that, the inhale takes the Agni towards the Mūlādhāra.
This effect on Agni increases with the Antar Kumbhaka,
as the Antar Kumbhaka helps to intensify the fire.
Following this process in bringing the Agni down,
the exhale takes the Mūlādhāra towards the Agni.
Thus the exhale draws the Apāna towards the Agni,
plus adding Uḍḍīyana Bandha holds the Apāna up.
This is the link with the effect on the Kuṇḍalinī,
though in terms of practice, very hard to get.
Here also, the coming down period is important.
For example, do not eat just after, though you feel hungry.
Uḍḍīyana Bandha is a heating process and Madhura Rasa,
such as sweet rice cooked with milk is initially recommended.
In Learning the Tri Bandha we engage with certain potential contraindications:
1. The Tri Bandha reduce the length and subtlety of the breath.
2. The accumulative effect when repeated should be more intense,
but often the opposite is what can actually happen.
3. In the beginning the use of the Tri Bandha can disturb the system and
create tendencies, such as for the practitioner to lose their temper.
4. The continued use of the Tri Bandha can easily
raise tensions in the neck and shoulders.
5. If the abdomen appears to be retracted strongly, but the breath
is getting shorter the practitioner is probably cheating.
The Teaching of the Tri Bandha starts the day we teach the exhalation.
1. Introduce the exhalation.
2. Extend the exhalation.
3. Attention on Lower Abdomen during exhalation.
4. Deepen attention on Lower Abdomen during exhalation.
5. Further intensification on the Bāhya Kumbhaka.
6. Introduce Uḍḍīyana Bandha by moving Navel Backwards
and Upwards, towards the point between the shoulder blades.
7. Retain the Mūla Bandha during the inhalation, by holding
the lower abdomen as you release the diaphragm.
When working with the inhale in Mahāmudrā try
to create an effect of upward movement in the spine,
as if within Bhujaṅgāsana inhaling from the top down,
whilst arching the spine upwards through the inhale.
So straightening the spine lifting the chest upwards,
whilst keeping the Jālandhara Bandha locked down.
Mudrā Pointer 9 – Whatever the effect Bahya Kumbhaka has……
Whatever the effect Bāhya Kumbhaka has, it is
extended by the use of Uḍḍīyāna and Mūla Bandha.
However the total length of the breath is reduced.
Bandha substantially reduces the lengths
of the Pūraka, the Recaka and the Kumbhaka.
Which and by how much depends on the individual.