When thinking about the benefits of yoga, the easy answer is it increases strength and flexibility while working on balance. However, learning body awareness has many more benefits than meets the eye. One of the first lessons in yoga training is how to activate the three bandhas, the mula bandha, the udiyana bandha, and the jalandra bandha. The activation of the second two bandhas can be observed by anybody, however the first bandha is much more elusive but just as important in yoga and in life.
Mula bandha in sanskrit means “root” and “lock”. Anatomically this energy lock is found at the center of the pelvic floor. Associated with the Muladhara Chakra at the base of the spine, practicing mula bandha spiritually works to help awaken the dormant consciousness of the kundalini energy, bringing calmness and control to both the mind and the body. Energetically, the mula bandha redirects the prana energy upward toward the other 6 chakras and enlightenment. Physically, contracting this perineal region activates the pelvic floor muscles, lifting them “like a jelly fish” into your core.
Activating the mula bandha can be challenging since there are no external movements to observe when it’s engaged. One way to practice holding mula bandha is by concentrating on the Muladhara Chakra and firmly contract the perineal muscles (the same feeling as if you stopped urinating midstream). To strengthen, sit cross legged and imagine you are lifting up “like a jelly fish” from the perineal region. Hold this muscular contraction and the breath as long as possible and comfortable, and then release with an exhale. This exercise should be repeated multiple times and can be performed any time of the day.