Learning to use our ‘mula bandha’ - yoga blog 5 December

Listen to that twinge - it might be the yoga! You might think that yoga is a safe and gentle form of exercise. Not always so… we can overdo things in a yoga class just as in anything else. Learning to listen to the body and respond to its needs is one of the fundamental rules. It’s even enshrined in the Sanskri word ‘ahimsa’, or non-violence, one of the principles found in ancient yoga texts, and widely interpreted to mean non violence to oneself as well as other creatures.

A pain in the knee

Months and months ago, I developed a pain in the outside of my knee. I could have twisted it awkwardly in yoga, I don’t remember. All I know is that by being patient, and giving it months rather than weeks to ease off, and avoiding strong postures that twist the knee, it is slowly getting better.

How can ‘mula bandha’ help?

Salute to the sun is one of the most energising and satisfying sequences, and taught in many different ways. But don’t forget ‘ahimsa’ and be kind on yourself when practising, especially to your back. That’s why we’ve been working  a lot on using ‘mula bandha’, or the pelvic floor muscles, in our classes recently, with that precisely in mind. Knowing how to use the deeper (or core) layers of muscles in the body can help us practise safely and in response to our body’s needs.

This week’s class (please note, this isn’t a how to guide but a reminder for my students)

Below is an ‘easy’ version of salute to the sun (Surya Namaskar) The movements follow the breath - inhalation and exhalation. There is a tricky transition from downward dog into a low cobra, but by taking the weight onto the knees and using the strength of ‘mula bandha’ we can help take the strain off the back.  This is especially useful for most of us who have not yet developed the strength to take the body weight in the arms and shoulders.