Always Mula Bandha

If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while now, you may have come across a term that is just about as enigmatic as it sounds.  I mean, this bundle of mystery is like the Bermuda Triangle, Area 51 and the sexual gender of Pat from Saturday Night Live all rolled up into one question mark-shaped package.  Say it five times fast and you might feel like a Kalahari Bushman invoking a voodoo rain dance with magical powers that sweep you to the mystical worlds of Oz and beyond.  Certainly, when mastered, it dangles superhero powers of flight, levitation and mid-air suspension.

So, click your heels three times and repeat after me:
Mula Bandha.  Mula Bandha.  Mula Bandha.

Now, Mula Bandha is actually just a fancy name for a muscle in your body known as the pelvic floor.  A hammock-shaped muscle that rests from side to side between your sitting bones, and from front to back, connecting the pubic bone to the coccyx.  And the way that it was explained to me to activate this muscle is to imagine cutting off the stream of pee by squeezing your bum cheeks together.  So a Kegel exercise, but not really?  Exactly.  Like a Kegel exercise, but not really.  Which means nothing to me in terms of an explanation.  Mostly, I just clench my jaw and flare my nostrils really wide in concentration trying to find it.

Which I’m sure looks sexy.

Yogis who have found this elusive muscle look cooler than the rest of us.  They’re the ones who leap from the back to front of their mat, pausing mid-air to fold their legs for chai tea and kale chips.  Or the ones whose entrance and exit into handstand looks like a stop-motion film played in slow motion; versus my flailing and thumping against a wall before momentarily finding a breadth of air between my feet and the wall.

At first, I thought Mula Bandha was just some more hippie-dippie shit.  But I think it has become like the Holy Grail for arm balances:  mythological and impossible to attain.  Nevertheless, Mula Bandha has become my mantra.  I walk down the street holding my low belly in while mentally doing the voodoo dance:  Mula Bandha, Mula Bhanda, Mula Bandha.  Hoping that one day I might don on my magic yogi cape and fly.  So far, I have not been transported to any existential destinations, nor have I figured out how to levitate, but I think my abs are a bit stronger.  And it sure is fun to say over and over.

And even though this root lock may still be on lockdown in my realm of comprehension, it’s not going to stop me from a continuous practice of nostril flaring.

 

 

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