Knots in Yoga
- Granthies or Knots
- Bandha or Locks
- Chakra or Energy Centers
- Kundalini shakti
- Trefoil Knot
- Dhumra Linga, Bana Linga, Itara Linga
- Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra Knots
- Tamas, Rajas, Sattva Gunas
3 Granthi in Kundalini Yoga
In Kundalini Yoga, it is said that there are three Granthi can be responsible for preventing prana from rising up through Sushumna Nadi. This Granthi three knots prevent one’s full potential from Kundalini rising energy. These three knots are Brahma Granthi, Vishnu Granthi and Rudra Granthi. They also relate to the Prakritis three Gunas (Tamas, Rajas and Sattva).
Some yogis in yoga see Granthi as a bamboo tree, where each segment is a barrier or barrier to the increase in kundalini energy.
The chakras in the psycho-physical human body at the dormant state form complex intertwined structures, called Granthi, or knots, as they are “link” matter and spirit, enhancing the sense of ego. There are three main granthis in the human body, which make the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva respectively, and they are called Brahma Granthi, Vishnu Granthi and Rudra Granthi.
In any practice to achieve success in the process of Kundalini awakening it is important to open these psychic knots. However, it is quite difficult because of granthi inextricably connected with all that we are accustomed to thinking of our personality, our habits, qualities, desires.
Three granthis together constitute the unconscious complexes (samskara) woven by illusion, and the weight and rigidity of the past is strong opposition to the passage of spiritual power.
The three Granthi are :
- Brahma granthi. it covers the area of Mulahara and Svadhisthan chakras. Some call it the perineal knot. It relates to the Tamas Guna (Mulahara and Svadhishthana) the universal destructive power.
In both the Jabal and the Yogashikha Upanishad state that this granthi is located in the Muladhard chakra. However, most tantric scriptures place it in the Manipura chakra.
- Vishnu granthi (doing and prana). It covers the area between Manipura, Anahata and Vishuddi chakras. Sometimes it is known as the navel knot. It relates to the Rajas Guna (Manipura and Anahata) – the universal power of motion and activity.
Vishnu granthi is said to be located in the area of Anahata chakra (the heart center), which is also the seat of prana. The heart is also the major knot chakra. So, to take the Kundalini Shakti into the passage of the Sushumna through Anahata chakra is also not very easy.
- Rudra granthi (Jnana, true knowledge). It covers the areas of Ajna and Sahasrara chakras. It is also known as the forehead knot. Unlike the other five chakras, the Ajna chakra is not connected to the spinal cord. So, the Rudra granthi is blocking the flow of prana beyond the sixth chakra between the eyebrows, Ajna chakra, upwards toward Sahasrara. It relates to the Sattva Guna (Vishuddha and Ajna), the universal creative power.
The Brahma granthi separates the first two chakras (Mulahra and Suadhisthana chakras) from the Manipura chakra. The sympathetic chain is continuous, however, at the upper level of the splanchnic nerves, the presynaptic system changes to the post-synaptic system. So, one can say the Vishnu Granthi is between the Manipura and the Anahata chakras.
Brahma Granthi is the first major block that sadhaka need to transcend. This granthi keeps a person under the illusion of the material benefits, physical pleasures, lethargy, ignorance, and uncertainty.
Among all the most powerful is an illusion of physical pleasure. This granthi plays an important role because it is responsible for the material man’s thinking. It creates a kind of attraction in the nature of the human mind.
Brahma granthi is covered by the essence it produces. This essence is called as “Kledam”. It is colorless and smells as a lotus flower. It is like a mixture of ‘Kapha’ which covers the entrance of Sushumna and also lubricates the Nadi connected. This lubrication helps the pulses of Nadi.
This Kledam is a thick mixture and thickens when we get older if we don’t practice yoga. With the power of Yoga can penetrate this barrier and go up through Sushumna through each barrier.
In short, anatomically the Granthis exist due to either the change of systems from sympathetic to parasympathetic, the separation of Vagus nerve from the Sacral nerve, or the changes from presynaptic fibers to postsynaptic fibers.
The philosophy of Kundalini Yoga is associated with the flow of energy in the channels called Ida and Pingala, (the female and male channels of the astral body, comparable to the sensory and motor nerves of the physical body) and its criss-cross centers in the spinal canal called Sushumna Nadi called chakras.
The three major intersections in the central Sushumna Nadi are at Muladhara (pelvic region), Anahata (chest region) and Ajna chakras (between the eyebrows) are interpreted as Granthi because the exchange energies of physical and mental levels occur at these three places and named after the Trinity.
Granthi means a knotted area which prevents the free flow of energy (Prana) from rising upwards. The concept and explanations related to granthi is a vague term that deals with very internal issues of undoing it and hard to give a figurative expression in a stone medium because they are levels of awareness where the power of Maya, ignorance, and attachment to material things are especially strong.
According to ancient spiritual science, every human has a gross physical body, the subtle astral body, and mind as its counterpart which is linked to each other. Though mind resides and interacts in the physical body, it cannot be given proof for its structure nor location in the body, but the mind influences the astral body also. The energy for the physical body is through external aids, but, energy for the astral body is dependent on the calm state of mind which can be achieved by getting out of the worldly entanglements termed as granthi.
The Ida and Pingala Nadi that are like spirals of opposite poles of the central axis intertwine and unlock while passing through the seven chakras. Psychic knots of granthis are like protective blockages for the gradual change in awareness and open only with the purification of mind and balance between the two Nadi. The purpose of granthis is to block the sudden upward flow of prana, are like circuit breakers to protect the overload that may occur to the practitioner in case of a spontaneous ascension. The display of ‘granthis’ is associated with the ‘Trinity’ as the three main deities (Tri Murti).
They are visualized like psychic knots or obstacles on the path of the awakened kundalini, (The power of awareness) which is difficult to pass through for every human, as it brings about a change in personality. Each aspirant must transcend these barriers to make a clear passageway for the ascending kundalini. In tantra based sculptures, the two major components Nadi, Ida and Pingala of kundalini as are pictured in anthropomorphic form as male and female human figures and crisscross is indicated as in contact or the hand positioned in the specific region of chakra.
In sculptural representations of this topic, the figures, since it is related to mind, the core of ‘Chitta’, are usually presented in a nude form, as the bare body represents the unadorned form of mind. In symbolic representations, they are like male and female snakes coiling at three places. The psychic Knots of granthi is depicted in the symbolized form as the Shiva Linga symbol. Different temples use different motifs to convey this topic in sculptures. The two sculptural representations are:
- Symbolic representation of granthi, through the Linga and snakes.
- Representation of grant in the human body in a personified form.
Kundalini yoga, a classification under tantra yoga is the form of subtle energy that flows in tubular channels called Nadis towards the conductor. The conductor is nothing but the nerve energy in the physical body that is encased in the spinal canal and called Sushumna. The intersections are recognized as chakras, seven in number, where the two nadi crisscross. At every chakra, a perfect balance and harmony must be established between the two Ida, Pingala Nadi or otherwise the energy of kundalini cannot progress to higher levels in the central channel of Sushumna.
In sculptural representations of tantra yoga depictions, the mind was projected as the female deity and prana as the male deity. Some sculptures depict the two male and female figures to be in contact at three or five regions like the foot, knee, genital place (Muladhara), heart (Anahata) and the tip of the nose (that is connected to Ajna chakra). Some schools recognize the chakras to be sixteen starting from foot, knee, palm, and so on. The contact at the foot and knee is suggestive of the lower points from which the Ida and Pingala (Female and male Nadi) arise and proceed. The contact at the foot is suggestive of the initial phase of activating the Ida and Pingala Nadi.
To clear Brahma granthi is to establish in totality, clearing Vishnu granthi is perceiving the existence of universal life principle and to clear Rudra granthi is to attain a non-duality of realization of oneness and universal awareness.
Brahma Granthi at Muladhara chakra is represented by the Dhumra Lingam. Dhum means smoky. The linga is represented smoky and ill-defined (some Lingas made of Sphatika – a crystalline form of quartz stone) as a Symbol of the physical world. It is also called Svayambhu linga- the self-created linga. It signifies the establishment of life principles in totality.
Brahma granthi functions in the base region of the Muladhara chakra at the genital area and hence a display of organs. It implies the entanglement with physical pleasures, material objects, and excessive selfishness or a sense of fear. It also implies the ensnaring power of tamas – negativity, lethargy, and ignorance. Such negative qualities act as hindrances and stop the serpent power kundalini from awakening. Once this blockage is removed from the energy instincts of the deep rootedness with worldly affairs, the realm of consciousness gets awakened and the trapped serpent power energy is released. The kundalini or primal energy is thus able to rise beyond Muladhara and Swadhisthana without bogged down by the attractions to which our consciousness is hooked. On breaking open the Brahma granthi, the practitioner feels relaxed and enjoys bliss arising from the void.
The figures related to the granthis are nude because they are related to the state of mind ‘Chitta’ and personal. Muladhara relates to, Ajna chakra as the starting and release points of prana, which is indicated in the sculptures as contact points. Muladhara has a direct link to Ajna chakra – situated in midbrain but indicated as above the nose, between the eyebrows. The subtle energy of these two Ida-Pingala currents crosses over to connect with the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
Brahma granthi is the manifest force of the energy of life and creation, depicted in sculptures as the pleasure of touch. It is known as blockage of Brahma because it holds the consciousness at the level related to physical dimensions like sensuality or procreation. Once this blockage is overcome, the consciousness of deep rootedness to worldly pleasures is released. The kundalini can rise above, crossing this knot.
Vishnu Granthi in Anahata chakra (between Manipura and Ajna chakra) is represented as Bana Linga. The linga is depicted red or gold-colored as a Symbol of the subtle world. Clearing Vishnu knot is to perceive the existence of universal life principles.
The contact at the chest is the second stage of awareness at Vishnu granthi – to detach from emotions related to bondage. Vishnu granthi operates in the region of the Anahata chakra in the heart region. It is associated with the bondage of emotional attachment and attachment to people and inner psychic visions. It relates to the qualities of rajas – the tendency towards passion, ambition, bondage and assertiveness, individual ego and power. Once the blockage at Vishnu granthi is removed, the practitioner feels great bliss. The sustenance energy undergoes a change from the localized centers of the physical level to the universal level which means the energies of the body become harmonious with the energies of the cosmos. The interaction between the individual personality and the cosmos begins to happen naturally & spontaneously, enhancing the quality of compassion.
The position of placement of chakra wheel as balls suggests that she is activating the Ida and Pingala in legs as well as in hand with the acupressure or chakra ball. It also gives a hint that opening out of Vishnu granthi is not a spontaneous act. It begins from the hand and leg Nadi, followed by the opening of Brahma granthi at Muladhara. In the right hand, as she is holding the ball, highlighting the thumb as the starting point of Nadi in hands. Activating the center of hands and feet is beneficial to health.
The freedom from the knotty – worldly problems and the freedom from knotty congestion in her meridians that restricts the flow of bioenergy at her mental and physical levels – are viewed as obstacles, the root cause for problems and indicated as the cloth around the breasts called ‘kanchuka’ with a knot. Philosophically, clearing the knot of kanchuka means liberation – freedom from ignorance, bondage, commitments due to obligations of bondage, power are the obstacles project as knotty problems in life. The aspirant is constantly advised to dissociate from all limitations and identify oneself with all the pervading, blissful, non-duality spirit of the Brahman.
Rudra Granthi in Ajna chakra is called Itara or Itakhya Linga. The linga is black, well defined with a very consolidated outline. Here, in Ajna, the awareness of ‘what I am’ is more sharply defined and various capacities are being awakened. The Dhumra and Bana Linga are depicted in lotus petals and only Itara linga is well defined. It signifies a state of non-duality. Clearing of Rudra granthi promotes spiritual vision. Awareness goes at the transpersonal level with super consciousness.
The loving gaze was used as a simile in tantra based sculptures to explain the abstract concept that mind (female) and prana (male) are harmonizing and mind is coming under the control of prana, in other words, mind is one with the object concentrated upon enjoying supreme bliss and super consciousness called ‘samadhi’.
The third contact at nose tip is related to crossing the hurdle of Rudra granthi – restraining from the thoughts of pride that comes sometimes from service to others or as the knower of knowledge. The pride prevents one from uniting with all with a non-dual thought. The three granthis when crossed, open the doors of Sahasrara chakra promoting spiritual vision and super consciousness. The Ida Pingala Nadi first intersect at the base of the spine and ends at the third eye center indicated at the apex of the nose. At the third eye center, these two currents cross over to connect with the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
The nose of the two male and female figures touch to symbolize the revitalization of memory and concentration of intuitive knowledge or cognition. Physiologically, the nasal nerves of olfactory bulb travel directly to the limbic area of the brain which controls the unconscious intuition of memory and sexuality. It functions in the region of Ajna chakra governing the Ajna and Sahasrara chakras. It represents the transformation of an existing form, idea or concept into the universal aspect. It is associated with the attainment of siddhis, a psychic phenomenon but still attached to and the concept of self as the power. In a psychological perspective, though serving others is a completely satisfactory way to spend one’s life at this stage, this service could create resentment against others, and view them as lesser beings as the pride of acquiring knowledge sometimes gains an upper hand. One must surrender the sense of individual ego and transcend duality to make further spiritual progress and then complete the circle by bringing that consciousness into compassionate actions.
With awareness, yoga practitioners ascend towards the Sahasrara chakra where the final merging of the individual Soul or Atman with the universal cosmic soul takes place to achieve the realization of oneness.
Awakening of Kundalini Shakti
Rshi Patanjali said “it is very difficult to walk on this Yoga path (Kundalini) like walking in the eyes of a knife that is very sharp, wrong or slipped a little too wounded” also walked to meet Him like doing a masterpiece project, all obstacles and obstacles we must be able to overcome only with determination. , disciplined and diligent practice.
So far we leave Him to approach him is something that requires extra energy. The energy that drives the realization of the Yoga goal is Kundalini Energy. Energy is power, power, shakti, power or whatever the term all of this already exists within us and also outside ourselves. Enormous energy that lies dormant in the form of a 3.5-circle snake with his head facing down around Linga swayambhu Siwa.
If the Kundalini energy is able to be raised, this energy will push someone to reach his life goal or his Yoga goals. The increase in Kundalini’s energy will cleanse every chakra that is passed then activate the chakras and various Siddhas will be felt even though it is still only a moment. The increase in Kundalini will be very helpful, especially to increase self-awareness and the vitality of the body is also increased, for example, to help self-healing or even become a healer.
But what needs to be considered is not only the benefits that are very useful, but also how we deal with every problem caused by the rise in Kundalini. Because the increase in kundalini will clean and open the knot chakra because kundalini is only limited to energy so this energy will play just breaking down, so we need to know the knowledge and directing techniques so that nothing happens that is desired. Many spiritual aspirants have fallen ill because of Him without realizing that the cause is Kundalini (kundalini syndrome).
Everyone has this Energy hidden in our body. Kundalini energy is very large energy like nuclear energy in the body. It can be imagined how much energy is in our bodies if this energy we are able to generate. To generate Kundalini energy you need sufficient knowledge, especially regarding the Main Chakra. In addition to this knowledge, a guide who really knows about the awakening of Kundalini or a spiritual teacher is very much needed.
Kundalini is the mother who protects us, the mother of the universe is often referred to as Mrs. Durga (Hyang Nini Bagawati), Mrs. Gayatri and Mrs. Saraswati. To awaken this Sakti Energy there are various ways and with certain training.
If the awakening of Kundalini towards this negative direction will have unfavorable consequences, there are several things that are affected that can hurt the physical body, this can be really real or will change the nature, emotions, behavior, and others towards the negative.
Kundalini is more commonly interpreted as a scroll, a power is in “Kunda” which is a quadratic place or mandala (Muladhara chakra), encircling the “Linga” three half circles that are above the “Yoni” Kundalini in the form of a snake resides in the cakra Muladhara and in in Muladhara there is linga and yoni this is where Kundalini as a power of silence. Kundalini is also known by various names including Mrs. Durga, Mother at times, Mrs. Bhuta, Mother Universe, Mrs. Bagawati and so on, all Mother’s names are Himself. She is also referred to as Ibu Prana, the inner Power of the Mother or latent energy whatever the name refers to her. I offer my devotion to the Great Mother … Energy Mother …
The negative polarities will flow towards the positive polarity, and the positive polarity is in the fontanel in Sahasrara Cakra where the Supreme Lord is located. Passive Shiva who is silent but whose vibrations spread to meet nature. Single Shiva (Eka) and many (various) at the same time. Shiva who lives in Sahasrara means that the vibrations of his silence dwell in each person’s Sahasrara. He sits in his favorite siddhasana, he whose body is bright as the reflection of sunlight on a snow mountain, whose hair is neatly woven, which flows holy Ganga water, surrounded by beautiful crescent moons, wears snakes as His necklace, blue-necked, body covered with weed, His two hands lifted up to give blessings and deliver from all fears, adorned with tiger skins as His garments, who sat on a lotus of thousands of golden leaves, whose smiles emit vibrations of peace.
The awakening of the Kundalini energy flow is determined by our level of consciousness, or in other words, we process it, we are the controller.
The thing to consider is that energy is still energy, He will follow our own consciousness, follow our mindset if we think towards virtue
Purification of Karma through 3 Granthi
In each bulkhead, vertebrae are stored with positive and negative karma as long as humans life. Every action or result of mental karma will be placed according to the place that caused it.
For example karma as a result of:
- Material things, rough emotions, supernatural powers, magic, etc. are stored at the bottom (Muladhara).
- Desires, desires and low egos are stored in Swadistana.
- Subtle emotions, dynamism, strength, etc. are stored in the central node of the Manipura chakra (Stomach).
- Feelings, love, envy, sadness, happiness, will be stored in the heart’s central node (Anahata),
- The ego is more subtle, including the highest ego that wants to reach God stored in the Wisudhi chakra.
- Mental instability, ignorance, wisdom, weigh and decide right and wrong, good and bad, mental balance, are stored in Ajna before heading for Enlightenment (in the Sahasrara chakra), … etc … according to the causes of chakra activeness and its consequences.
The two way of Oneness and Karma Melting through this method (granthi) :
- From top (Sahasrara chakra) heading down through Sushumna. The meeting was in the deepest depth of Ajna. While experiencing calm, it will release fluid from the pineal gland, producing a form of fluid / Tirta Amritha which then drips into Sushumna, penetrates and removes impurities in each segment.
This method is considered safer, and the risk is minimal. Although safe, it does not mean without obstacles and mental obstacles that need to be overcome. The effect is cold and some even feel like ice water flowing in each segment to the lower end until it merges with the power of Kundalini (Shiva-Shakti).
- From bottom (Muladhara chakra) by awakening the power of Kundalini. This Kundalini fire breaks through and increases the burning of karma in each of its ascension paths until it experiences unification in Sahasrara (Shiva-Shakti).
In every process of ascension ranging from the most subtle (the heat) to the magma fire, the perpetrator will experience many obstacles to significant changes in mental effects and the temptation to get siddhi.
Being aware of every moment of attitudes and mental changes or the like is very necessary to get to the next level, as well as efforts to unleash the power of the siddhis obtained. Giving up the siddhi that is obtained does not mean that it will disappear when the higher attainments all of the things below will also be followed and controlled (included).
Both unity from above and taking the road from the bottom produced “Amritha / Tirta Kundalini”. The effect of this will result in peace, calm, silence, towards Samadhi.
In Bali, this meaning is also poured into the song Wargasari Down the Tirta so sublime … etc. Where this is the way from above (Requesting) the union of Shiva and Durga / Shakti (Kundalini).
In Kanda pat he the power that results in the purification of Tirta seeps through the bamboo cavities, arteries and the like depending on the experience he sees,
This result is also a Tirta “wiping out” (negative melting) released through saliva (vaguely inserted in a glass of water for Tirta by some Balinese healers). While some possessed (kerauhan) he came out through a kind of mucus through the nose when possessed.
The Sanskrit word granthi means “knot” or “doubt” and also means “an especially difficult knot to untie.” People in India wearing a sari or dhoti cloth will form a small pouch to hold money, and close it by knotting the fabric – this tightly knotted purse is called a granthi. Granthi in spiritual practice are psychological or psychic barriers to total freedom. Granthi prevent prana from moving freely up sushumna nadi. Granthi bind the soul; they lock us to our misperception of reality (avidya) and self (asmita). They hold us to our preferences (raga and dvesha) and root us in fear of death (abhinivesha). Knowledge (jnana) is a key component to transcend fear, and together with action (karma) they give wings to our spiritual desires – the rise of Kundalini.
The hathayoga methods for untying these knots are the bandhas, or energy locks. By focusing the pranas in Sushumna Nadi the bandhas increase the potency of the rising Kundalini allowing us to transcend normal restrictions of thinking and acting.
Brahma Granthi is located at the base of the spine between Muladhara Chakraand Svadhisthana Chakra where primitive brain functioning like the “fight or flight reflexes” guarantee survival. Fear of death, anxiety about food, shelter or clothing, or general lack of grounding, all manifest as Brahma Granthi. When you experience fear in an asana like handstand or split, and the fear itself prevents success, this is Brahma Granthi. Lack of spare time can be part of this knot. When your bills and rent payment keep you at work and away from yoga, that is Brahma Granthi.
Mula (Root) Bandha is the first consolidation of Prana and Apana, piercing Brahma Granthi. Vitality, thought, breath, and speech are joined in pursuit of truth. This root lock can be applied all the time transforming every thing we do into a holy act.
Vishnu Granthi knots energy between Manipura Chakra and Anahata Chakra. This Granthi is a knot of individual ego and power. Our clinging to ego, self-cherishing and the quest for personal power can slow spiritual success. Fear of being ignored or of loosing prestige may plague our spiritual growth. This is a knot of power and manipulation, but it is also the knot of accumulation. Accumulation of power, possessions, and fame, all tie us to this level of consciousness. In order to transcend this level of consciousness we must “give up the love of power, for the power of love!” The degree of vulnerability that we show in life – the ability to put our façade aside and challenge our own status quo, unties Vishnu Granthi.
Uddiyana (Flying up) Bandha is the second consolidation of Prana, Apana, and Samana vayus.
Applied together with Mula Bandha, this lock pierces Vishnu Granthi. The individual is able to transcend individuality. The whole abdomen is drawn in and up – symbolizing the renunciation of accumulation and concentration of energy upward toward Anahata Chakra.
Rudra granthi is knotted between the Anahata and Ajña chakras. The attractiveness of heart centered action and the experience of serving others can distract the yogi who desires to “Be Love” – not just experience it. Serving others is a completely satisfactory way to spend your life, but this service could become your cross to bear, where you hold resentment against others, and view them as lesser beings. We must strive to transcend otherness and experience the “oneness of being” in the highest levels of consciousness, and then complete the circle by bringing that consciousness into our compassionate actions. When we are free from the illusion of otherness our actions emerge spontaneously from Love. Jalandhara Bandha enables this leap of consciousness.
The consummate consolidation of prana is Jalandhara Bandha (Cloud Catching Lock or Net Lock – for the network of nadis in the neck) when Prana, Apana, Samana and Udana vayu in Sushumna Nadi loosen Rudra Granthi, and the veil of separation is lifted.
- The yoga practices reveal where we are stopped by granthi, psychological knots, and give us tools for negotiating and loosening those limitations. The granthi are pierced through asana, meditation, pranayama, samyama, virtuous acts, purification of diet, good intention, yama and niyama, mudra, and through nada techniques like chanting and mantra.
- Practice each bandha separately.
- Mula: This bandha can be applied while breathing and moving freely.
The two parts of this lock are a) contraction of the interior of the perineal body on men, or the vaginal walls for women, and b) the area from the pubic bone to navel draws inward and upward slightly.
- Uddiyana: The diaphragm moves toward the throat drawing the entire abdomen in and up. This lock is only practiced on exhale retention when breathing is not possible and movement is internalized.
- Jalandhara: Can be applied after inhale or exhale, bringing chest to chin. The spine should stay relatively straight and the chin should rest in the cleft between the clavicle bones.
- Teach all bandha applied simultaneously in Mahamudra. See Hathayogapradipika Chapter 3, Verses 10-13
- Investigate the psychological barriers to freedom that are embodied in the granthi, from fear of death and anxiety about survival (Muladhara,) to the accumulation of power and prestige (Manipura,) to the “feel good” effect of helping others, rather than serving others (Anahata.)
- Teach about the Pranamaya Kosha and it’s component vayus. Asana practice most directly affects the Pranamaya Kosha and consolidates the energy of consciousness into a force of enlightenment.
In Bhagavad Gita 7.1 there is a reference to granthi as doubt, and refuge of the Lord as freedom from that doubt. In Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.17-21, bhakti-yoga severs the granthi (hard knot) of material affection and enables one to come at once to the stage of asamsayam-samagram.
The Bandhas and the Granthis
Bandhas are inner body locks that engage both the physical and the energetic body. They provide inner support during asana practice, stimulate the flow of prana and help to release the granthis, which can be understood as energy blockages or psychological knots.
By combining the action of opposing muscles, the bandhas can be activated. Their use during asana practice increases strength, stability and mental focus. Their use during pranayama intensifies its cleansing effect by directing agni or the internal fire to burn the waste matter that has settled and blocks the flow of energy.
Often referred to as locks, the bandhas help to balance two important energies within the body: the prana vayu and apana vayu. If prana is associated with drawing in that which nourishes us, apana is associated with letting go of that which is potentially toxic. Prana is connected to the inhalation and apana to the exhalation. The meeting of these two opposing energies at the base of the spine awakens the Kundalini energy.
There are three main bandhas: Jalandhara, Uddiyana and Mula bandha. Activating all three of these bandhas at the same time is referred to as Mahabandha or main lock.
• Jalandhara Bandha: the throat lock. Jalandhara bandha can be applied by contracting the front muscles in the neck when tucking the chin towards the sternum. This bandha is naturally activated in some asanas like Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) or Halasa (Plough Pose). It is subtly activated during Ujjayi pranayama in which the glottis (the area where the vocal cords are located) is gently contracted.
This bandha focuses the mind on the fifth or throat chakra and contains the upward-flowing movement of prana past the throat. It also seals off the downward movement of “nectar” from the sahasrara or crown chakra, which is said to preserve youth and vitality.
• Uddiyana Bandha: the abdominal lock. Uddiyana bandha is applied by contracting the upper abdominal muscles (just below the solar plexus). This bandha is naturally activated after each exhalation when the lungs are emptied and the diaphragm rises. During asana practice it is especially useful to apply this bandha to support the lumbar region in back bends. When used together with Mula bandha, it strengthens the abdominal muscles. While performing asanas it is not possible to fully engage this bandha as it would constrain breathing. This bandha focuses the mind on the third chakra and directs prana up towards the sixth chakra.
• Mula Bandha: the root lock. Mula bandha is applied by contracting the pelvic floor and elevating the inner organs in this region like the bladder and genitals. Other groups of muscles, like the upper leg adductors (by slightly pressing the knees together), can intensify this bhanda. If engaged during asana practice it is said to “provide an extra lift, which is especially useful when jumping”. This bandha focuses the mind on the first chakra, and directs prana from the pelvic region upwards, providing energy to the whole body and stopping it from flowing downwards out of the body.
Activating the bandhas can also help to unblock the three granthisor knots that prevent prana from freely circulating within the Sushuma nadi. These knots can block the chakras and keep us tied to negative attitudes and emotions, preventing us from fully experiencing the richness of life.
• The Bramha or Vital Granthi is associated with the first three chakras (root, sacrum and solar plexus). This granthi blocks us by feeding our attachment to physical comfort, material wealth and accumulation. It can be unblocked by activating Mula bhanda. To regulate the energy in these vital chakras and granthi, Patanjali recommends self discipline.
• The Vishnu or Love Granthi is associated with the fourth and fifth chakras (heart and throat). This granthi blocks us by feeding our attachment to emotional excitement, self-centeredness and lack of receptivity to others’ needs. It can be unblocked by activating Uddyiana bandha. To boost the energy of the love chakras and granthi, Patanjali recommends devotion and commitment.
• The Rudra or Light Granthi is associated with the last two chakras (third eye and crown of the head). This granthi blocks us by feeding our attachment to our opinions, prejudices, fantasies and intellectual pride. It can be unblocked by activating Jalandhara bandha. To dissolve pride and “dark” mental patterns, Patanjali recommends self-knowledge.
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