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Back Pain Remedy via Bandhas

Bandha what? Bandha is a word I heard my teachers say in class daily, a word that I wrote off as ‘yogi hippie crap’ until I experientially finally understood what it was all about. And given that took a fair amount of time (over a year of 7 day a week practice), I am going to lay it out for you so you and your practice can take off ASAP.

In Sanskrit bandha means to lock, to hold, or to tighten. It also refers to a lock in and of itself.There are 3 principle bandhas in the body, and a fourth that ties them all together. The ancient yogi philosophers said, and I concur, that when you master the locks, your master the yoga practice, the practice on the outside — floating in and out of asanas, holding for long periods of time, and managing new positions – and the practice on the inside – consistent single pointed concentration, steady and long breath, and a calm, clear mind.  And in a straight-up modern, western sense, the bandhas help you regulate and control all your internal systems, hormonal, sexual, metabolic, digestive, and more. Whether you care about the east, the west, or both, the bandhas are a critical factor to a killer you, and to yoga. Note, bandhas should not be practiced while pregnant.

Mula Bandha: In a way Mula Bandha is the easiest bandha to explain. Just imagine you are in the middle of a 3 hour traffic jam to the airport, the highway has turned into a parking lot, and you have to pee. Or, ladies, you are in white short shorts walking through the park and you get your period a day early. The muscles you instinctually contract to pull up and hold in what is dying to flood out can be generally considered Mula Bandha, or at least the Mula Bandha region.

In Sanskrit mula means root, and thus Mula Bandha is the root lock. To find it, sit, stand, or even be in an asana, and if you are a man, contract the area between the anus and the testes. If you are a woman,  contract the muscles at the bottom of the pelvic floor, behind the cervix. Initially the anal sphincter will also contract, but with time and practice you will be able to hone in on the Mula Bandha region and leave the rest aside.   

Now don’t freak out! Remember, I thought all this was hogwash too. But the truth is, that Mula Bandha should be held throughout your entire yoga practice. That’s right — the whole hour or hour and a half. There are countless reasons, but quite simply think of it as the lock that allows your energy to flow up, not down and out. If your energy is forced to flow up, and stay inside you, for that matter, it will grow exponentially, leaving you with that amazing feeling of ‘floating’ as you walk out of out of class. It will also allow you to float IN class, as an engaged Mula Bandha allows you to be lighter on your limbs, and thus lighter on your mat. This lightness prevents you from becoming fatigued when that teacher, aka me, makes you hold something for what seems like forever and a day, or do the umpteenth Chatarunga. In a more physiological sense, Mula Bandha stimulates the pelvic nerves, the genital system, the endocrine system, and the excretory system. It has  also been shown to relieve constipation and depression.  

Uddiyana Bandha: Moving up from mula bandha we have the second bandha, Uddiyana. In Sanskrit uddiyana means to fly up, or to rise up. This ‘flying up lock’ is thus all about your insides flying upwards, intangibly meaning your energy, tangibly meaning your diaphragm, stomach, and abdominal organs.

To find Uddiyana Bandha start standing up tall, feet about a meter apart.  Inhale through your nose and reach your arms up alongside your ears. Exhale out of your mouth and fold forward placing your hands just above your knees. Without inhaling close your lips, straighten your elbows, and feel your abdominal wall and organs push up and back towards your back. It should feel somewhat like a suctioning back and up of everything on the inside. If you are doing it correctly and happen to glance at your profile in a mirror, you should see your waist Marilyn Monroe-style tiny winy, with the ribs noticeably protruding over and in front of your abdomen or belly button.  Retain as such for as long as possible, and exit the bandha via inhaling through your nose and standing up straight, raising your arms up along side your ears, then exhaling  through your nose again as you move your arms down.

Uddiyana Bandha can be one of the most transformative aspects of your yoga practice, especially as you get more advanced. It moves the energy upwards with much more force than Mula Bandha, thus allowing you to invert and jump more easily, as well as float forward and back more lightly, and twist more deeply. Because the abdominal wall is pressing the organs and tissues of the abdominal cavity backwards, Uddiyana Bandha creates a soft massage for the deeper internal muscles of the lower back.  

In a more day-to-day sense, Uddiyana Bandha is the ultimate remedy for abdominal and stomach ailments, from constipation to indigestion. It stimulates your digestive juices, thus increasing your metabolism, and tones your overworked abdominal organs. It also balances the adrenal system, relieving stress, lethargy and tension. And best of all, it is the sure fire way to get flat washboard abs without ever doing any crunches.

Jalandhara Bandha: Jalandhara Bandha is pretty much the only double chin you will want, and try, to have. In Sanskrit jal means throat, jalan means net, and dharan means stream or flow. Thus  in the most basic sense, Jalandhara Bandha can be considered the throat lock that controls the flow of energy in the nerves and blood vessels of the neck

To find Jalandhara Bandha sit up tall, either in a comfortable cross legged position or on your shins with your butt on your heals. Place the palm of your hands on your knees. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, then bring your chin towards your neck and lift your sternum ever so slightly. Press down on your hands and straighten your elbows, pull your chin back further, and retain as long as possible. To exit lift your chin, inhale the remainder of capacity into your lungs, and exhale. If you felt a nasty double chin or were stressing about someone taking a picture of your profile, you did it right!

Unlike the first two, Jalandhara Bandha is normally performed in combination with specific breathing practices, and rarely done on its own. That said, it is immensely powerful, as it compresses the sinuses on the main arteries of the neck and in doing so helps regulate the circulatory and respiratory systems. The pressure on the throat helps to balance the thyroid and metabolism. And if no one is looking at you at work, engage Jalandhara Bandha as an instant trigger for mental relaxation as well as stress and anger relief. 

Maha Bandha: This the big Kahuna. Maha in Sanskrit means great, and Maha Bandha is the combination of all three aforementioned bandhas.  

Sit in a comfortable seat, on your shins or cross legged, palms of the hands on the thighs or knees.  Inhale fully through your nose, and exhale comp

Maha Bandha gives the benefits of all three bandhas and regulates the entire endocrine system. And as an added plus, it makes you a much better swimmer, runner, and of course Little Mermaid impersonator. 

That’s that! Super simple. So lock ‘em all up and watch how your yoga practice, and your body, will take off! For at home classes that introduce the bandhas to you in a simple, approachable way, check out our video classes here.

Cod burger. Just make parties of cod or another white fish you love, salt, pepper, sesame and a diced hot pepper. Grill or broil then make the full burger. Delish.

Cod burger. Just make parties of cod or another white fish you love, salt, pepper, sesame and a diced hot pepper. Grill or broil then make the full burger. Delish.

Morning mantra: you can’t look up if you are looking down. #iamyou

Morning mantra: you can’t look up if you are looking down. #iamyou

Let me introduce myself… Sympathy for the Devil , Rolling Stones. 

Yoga makes everything better.
Like/ReBlog if you agree.
Favorite pose of late. How to coming soon.

Favorite pose of late. How to coming soon.

Rise and shine wisdom.

Rise and shine wisdom.

I love taking a combo of pre made & home ingredients and turning them into something amazing. Here store bought tabouli with added red onion, yellow bell pepper, hazelnuts, olive oil, lemon juice and dash of balsamic.

I love taking a combo of pre made & home ingredients and turning them into something amazing. Here store bought tabouli with added red onion, yellow bell pepper, hazelnuts, olive oil, lemon juice and dash of balsamic.

Start your day right! Dozens of 15min to 1hr long classes on www.iamyoustudio.com/yogavideo thanks to this I.AM.YOU.er for sharing her morning.

Start your day right! Dozens of 15min to 1hr long classes on www.iamyoustudio.com/yogavideo thanks to this I.AM.YOU.er for sharing her morning.

Back to school. Back to the mat. Try this at home tonight and start your week off right.

Back to school. Back to the mat. Try this at home tonight and start your week off right.

Big news - I have been signed by Penguin for my first book!!!! 
The book is based the I.AM.YOU. brand and methodology, and was quickly bought by Penguin and will come out in 2015. It is a dream come true on so many levels.
This project is the first of its kind, a total book category breaker, one that will revolutionize you and your life from the inside, out and outside, in.  No gimmicks, no false promises, no lofty dogma.  It is just me writing directly to you, for you. 
Penguin is psyched. I am psyched. And you should be psyched too!
Thanks for being part of the I.AM.YOU. x Penguin team with me. Huge Penguin Hurrahs to all!

EXCITED xx’s,
Lauren Imparato

Big news - I have been signed by Penguin for my first book!!!!

The book is based the I.AM.YOU. brand and methodology, and was quickly bought by Penguin and will come out in 2015. It is a dream come true on so many levels.

This project is the first of its kind, a total book category breaker, one that will revolutionize you and your life from the inside, out and outside, in. No gimmicks, no false promises, no lofty dogma. It is just me writing directly to you, for you.

Penguin is psyched. I am psyched. And you should be psyched too!

Thanks for being part of the I.AM.YOU. x Penguin team with me. Huge Penguin Hurrahs to all!

EXCITED xx’s,
Lauren Imparato

Our chef for the day takes a fresh fish, sprinkles it with salt, rubs it in olive oil, cuts up some lemon, wraps it in fill and cooks it in the oven at 375 for 40min. Try it at home today!

Our chef for the day takes a fresh fish, sprinkles it with salt, rubs it in olive oil, cuts up some lemon, wraps it in fill and cooks it in the oven at 375 for 40min. Try it at home today!

Try this (in a normal speed) for Abs, Hamstrings, and Arms.

Spotlight on the holy grail: avocado sashimi. Done to ultimate perfection.

Spotlight on the holy grail: avocado sashimi. Done to ultimate perfection.

Back to school baby.