Prenatal Yoga Practice and Bandhas

Bandhas or no Bandhas while pregnant?!?!?!?
Well, it turned out that every teacher I asked this question all gave me different answers and at the end of the day, as we all always do, I just did what it feels right for me.
First, I was advised not to do any Bandhas, so I didn’t. But since I started to do Kegel exercises after mid-wife’s advice, I had this big question. “What is the difference between Mula Bandha and Kegel exercise?” Now, I know they are same with different intensity, but it was quite confusing at that time. Once, I heard David Swenson describing the intensity of Mula Bandha as spooning yogurt gently (in his Bangkok workshop several years ago), so I know it is quite gentle. And that is why we can/should keep Mula Bandha through whole practice. But Kegel exercise can be much more intense, so relaxation has to be done as well as squeezing since it can be quite intense on pelvic floor muscle. This is why when you read about Kegel exercises, usually same length of relaxation follows after 5-10 counting of holding.
How about Uddiyana Bandha?
Usually, for pregnant women, engaging core muscle during any form of exercise IS NOT advised. Every teacher describes Uddiyana Bandha differently, but it is commonly known that Uddiyana Bandha is related to our core muscle. I didn’t do any Uddiyaba Bandha, and ironically, that’s how I learned how important the Uddiyana Bandha is for Ashtanga practice. Then, I experienced something very interesting when I did Mysore class with my beloved Ashtanga teacher Mark Darby. I was already 6 months pregnant then and doing usual Utthita Tri Konasana with no Uddiyana Bandha. Darby saw me and told me, “Jenna, lift your baby”. So, I did. I gently hugged my baby closer to me without using core muscle too much, and my tailbone was automatically tucked in and I felt much more comfortable with my lower back. So I started to hug my baby during Ashtanga yoga practice. And that is how I practiced Ashtanga primary half series everyday until the day I gave a birth to my baby, who is now 5 months old.
**I want to emphasize that it worked for me and it felt right for me, but DON’T know if it is right for others. But one thing sure is Kegel exercise can’t be emphasized more. Kegel, Kegel, Kegel, Ladies!!
Jenna – Pre/postnatal Yoga TTC

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