Mūla Bandha (मूल बंध) is a Sanskrit term that literally translates to “root lock“: Maehle, Gregor (2007: Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, 11).
Contrary to popular perception, Mula Bandha does not refer to the perineum (the part of the anatomy that is contracted). Rather, it refers to the contraction of the perineum. The perineum is located at the midpoint of the anus and the genitals and is commonly referred to as the ‘centre of the pelvic floor’.
Iyengar (1976: Light on Yoga, 525) describes Mūla Bandha as “a posture where the body from the anus to the navel is contracted and lifted up and towards the spine“.
Mula Bandha can be described in layman terms as the voluntary contraction of the pubo-coccygeal (PC) muscle. The PC muscle runs from the pubic bone to the tailbone (coccyx)), and controls the flow of urine and contracts during orgasm.
However, in the yogic tradition, Mula Bandha is also said to create an energetic seal that locks prana (life force, vital energy, subtle energy) into and within the body. Some writers have interpreted this to mean the retention of semen in men, though in my opinion, this interpretation seems a little narrow and does not encompass the other energetic benefits of the practice.
Performing Mula Bandha is said to have the following benefits:
- it allows prana to move up the sushumna nadi (the subtle energetic centre of the spine), instead of escaping through the base of the spine;
- it conditions and tones the muladhara chakra, the root chakra located at the base of the spine;
- it awakens kundalini energy. Kundalini is the term for spiritual energy or life force at the base of the spine, which is conceptualised as a coiled-up serpent that can be awakened. When awakened, kundalini energy uncoils and is said to travel along and through the ida (left), pingala (right) and sushumna (central) nadi (the main channels of pranic energy in the body), penetrating all 7 chakras along the way.
As can be seen, practising Mula Bandha is simple but has subtle energetic benefits, over and above an increased control of urinary and orgasmic functions. Keep calm and practise Mula Bandha today!