Thanks to Alisa who left a comment on the Jalandara Bandha post and asked about Mula and Uddiyana. I loved her description of the method she’d been using and tried it:
“So far, the best practice I know if is putting my hands on a sticky mat and my feet on a tray and sliding the tray backwards and forwards without bending my knees.”
What a fantastic idea! I think this process really gets to the feeling of the bandha, but maybe isn’t ideal for discriminating among the deeper layers that reveal themselves over time. David Life has great article on the layers and how Mula Bandha relates to two distinct mudras in the same area on the Yoga Journal Page under “Practice”, called “To Infinity and Beyond!”
I usually begin to teach Mula Bandha as part of a breathing practice called kalabhati, rapid and forceful exhalations generated from rapid contractions of the low belly. When you compress the transverse abdominus which runs laterally between the pelvic crests, you naturally also lift the pelvic floor from pressure and attachments (not the egoic kind, the connective tissue kind).
From there we work imaginitively, because the most important and difficult part of this process is to actually feel with nuance this area of your own body. Most people don’t, thank you very much, and it can feel uncomfortable to refer to these areas when you’re unused to feeling them.
I begin with the usual references to Kegel Excercises, with the caveat that this is starting place. Mula Bandha begins with a contraction of the pelvic floor which is an intricate network of fascia, other connective tissue and muscles with either two or three openings, depending upon your gender. Kegel gets to the front opening. “Contract Uranus!” gets to the posterior. What we’re aiming for is a subtle lifting sensation above the perineum, and when you engage it you’ll feel instantaneously bright minded. It’s like your energy just bounced up from a trampoline.
And that is the final image I like with this exercise, usually performed sitting in Sukhasana or Virasana. Imagine a flat drum stretched from sitting bone to sitting bone, and from your tailbone up to the front of your pelvis. As your breath lands gently on this drum, it snaps gently back into the body, sending the breath upward. If in Virasana, press the knees together gently to tug the sitting bones slightly and tighten the trampoline.
Breathe, Love, Live!