In the interview with Krishnamacharya's third son T. K Sribashyam, that I posted extended selections from yesterday, there was a question on the bandhas. In his answer T. K. Sribashyam made a distinction between vedic and hatha yoga. In Hatha the bandhas are the muscular/physical locks we are familiar with but in in Vedic yoga (Yajnavalkya) the bandhas are supposedly more to do with emotional restraints.
16) In Emergence of Yoga, asana, pranayama and mudra are presented in detail. I see no mention of the three bandhas. Please could you explain why they are not included?
You are right; my book Emergence of Yoga details Asanas, Pranayamas and Mudras, but very little on Bandha. I know that many yoga practitioners and teachers are attracted by Bandhas. Yet, I abstained from introducing this chapter, mainly because, they do not belong to the traditional teaching of Yajnavalkya. He gives a passing reference to them, not as a ‘physical knot’, but as a way to control our emotional spring of actions. Writing about them would have led to more confusion and conflict among the readers and made the book ‘heavier’. I did not detail Mudras in my book, as I was very particular about the volume at the time of writing, and I had the desire to write a second part on Mudra, Bandha and Dhyana. Moreover, the concepts of Bandha that you talk of are very recent – the period of Hatha Yoga and not that of Veda.
My father did teach us the three (the five) Bandhas; we practiced, but they were not in our programme of teaching, except Jihva Bandha in Shitali, Mula Mandha and Uddiyana Bandha in Mudras. So you see, it is not the method in other schools.
It is not always a muscular ‘knot’. It also means the hold of the anarchic activities of our emotions. Bandha, to hold also in a way, holding back the unnecessary activities of the sense perception or emotions. So, you have Indriya Bandha, Krodha Bandha, etc. very rarely used in the usual yoga books that interpret Bandha as a muscular knot and give much importance to it. I do not say that they do not exist, but that is not the main aim of Bandha in the traditional Yoga.
Since all our human emotions reside and emanate from Mula (the region of Mula Kanda), Mula Bandha originally meant withholding unneeded emotional activities (activities that keep us away from God.
On reading the above I was reminded of the vayus and how they are said to govern emotional and mental qualities. The kleishas too come to mind in that the emotions unrestrained are said to result in the disturbing emotions, the kleishas, the disturbances. Is TK Sribashyam then referring to the idea that the bandhas in vedic yoga are employed to bring 'emotional energy under our influence' and thus help in the reduction of kleishas. Krodha bandha is mentioned for example (Krodha = anger).
Out of my depth here but I find it interesting and perhaps somebody else would like to run with it, educate me by perhaps directing me to some useful texts. I'm guessing Ayurveda might have a lot to say about this.
I've tended to avoid the whole idea of yoga energetics because I couldn't be bring myself to hunt out the good stuff, it seemed a distraction, a rabbit hole I didn't want to disappear down, preferring to just breathe but perhaps practice could be more... skilful, focussed.
NOTE: Paul Harvey who studied one-to-one for many years with TKV Desikachar runs several course on Yoga energetics at his Center for Yoga Studies (It's also a an excellent resource site, lots of free, useful downloads
I also likes this idea of the bandhas because it makes Cakra study a little more acceptable to me. I've always been resistant of this area, mainly because of all the pretty rainbow coloured books next to the philosophy shelves. However, Krishnamacharya treats of the cakra in Yoga Makaranda and he seems to be suggesting that when the cakra are working effectively then the vayus ( prana) move through the body nicely. I may have a problem with the spinning disc image but we all experience emotions powerfully in our body, often in areas that seem to correspond to the location of cakras, think the tightness in the throat, our heart breaking, how we experience our passions (a knot) in our belly and of course mula bandha is best found whenever we see our loved ones cut their fingers. These strong emotions seem trapped (blocked?) in these areas and often it's calming our breathing that helps. We don't need to go all esoteric here but rather just notice our experience and start from there.... which is no doubt what the old yogis did.
from Yogayajnavalkya - (AG Mohan translation)
39-49: Benefits offocusing the prai;ia at various places in the body.
GargI, focusing [the prana) at the tip of the nose, is the way to master the prana. By focusing on the navel all diseases are removed. The body attains lightness by focusing on the big toes.
The person who inhales the air through the tongue constantly has no fatigue, and heat and diseases perish. One who inhales air (practices pravayama) thus in the morning, afternoon and evening or before sunrise (brahmamuhürta) for three months acquires proficiency in speech, blessed [Gargi]. By practising for six months one becomes free of all diseases.
Sorme others opine that if one turns the mind inward and focuses on the kundalini, diseases related to degeneration, decay etc. are destroyed. The learned one who inhales the air through the tongue, retains it at the base of the tongue, and drinks the nectar, attains all benefits.57
57 This pranayama includes jihva bandha. Attention focused at the root of the tongue leads to an increased sharpness of the senses.
54-58: Priil-iiyiima and nada.
By this practice, the prana which causes reduction of the life span (when it is dispersed), [is centered and] moves into the brahmarandhra, through the suumnii nadi like a fiber inside a lotus stalk. The appearance of pure and crystalline nada (sound), present up to the top of the head like the sound produced by a vina60 (a traditional musical string instrument), is due to this [movement].
At first, the sound produced by a conch [is heard], then sounds of thunder, and when the nada reaches the crown of the head (brahmarandhra), a sound similar to a mountain waterfall [is heard].61 When the prana vayu reaches the brahmarandhra, and the mind is absorbed in the self, the practitioner becomes blissful and prana is conquered by him. Other yogis who are dedicated to the practice of pranayama, who are pure, and who have gone beyond inhale and exhale, having similar views on this, also say thus.
|See my earlier post Veena and the spine|
Krishnamcharya does outline bandhas in the mudra section of Yoga makaranda and in his asana instructions he occasionally refers to drawing in the stomach at the end of the exhalation and that the extent to which one does so reflects on the benefit of the asana.