in depth


Nerves of Steel III

Getting to the Root

I found Kundalini Yoga just in time. A two-pack-a-day smoker of 20-plus years, I medicated my unhappiness and exhaustion through extensive use of nicotine and caffeine, forcing my way through my days. After many years of living as a Type-A personality, I found a lifestyle that helped me slowly rebuild my nervous system.

One vital practice that allowed me to deal with stress is mul bandha (root lock). Mul bandha works with the earth element. Just as the earth is foundational for life on this planet, the root lock is foundational for a strong yoga practice. It’s one exercise that I always recommend to my students, because it is vital to creating a strong nervous system.

Root lock is often included as a part of a kriya or meditation, such as Sat Kriya. In addition to emotional centering, root lock serves as a pelvic and lower back stabilizer in conjunction with virtually any asana or yoga posture. Root lock supports prostate health for men and pelvic floor strength (including helping with menstrual issues*) for women.

In addition to the wonderful health benefits of this lock, mul bandha also raises the energy from the lower chakras (responsible for our primal instincts) to the higher centers associated with spirituality and higher consciousness. According to Rolf Sovik, PsyD, yogi, author, and President of the Himalayan Institute, practicing root lock unites the downward-moving energies located in the root chakra with the upward-moving energies located at the heart chakra, leading to the expansion of awareness.

To practice the root lock, use a three-wave motion. Begin by gently pulling up and inward on the anal sphincter muscles. Holding the lift, continue the wave to lift the sex organs. Still holding, lift the lower abdominal muscles and fold the navel in toward the spine. Your entire lower body should feel supported.

Mul bandha has many subtle aspects, including improved digestion, enhanced energy and self-esteem. As you become more adept, investigate this wonderful lock further to learn how to enhance your yoga practice. Be sure to take a few minutes each day to continue to build those nerves of steel!

*Do not practice root lock during your menstrual flow. Menses-energy needs to flow downward, not upward. Some yogic experts also recommend against practicing this lock during pregnancy. Root lock should never be practiced by prepubescent children.

Lola Scarborough
Yoga Lola Studios

Recommended: Maya Fiennes Kundalini Yoga: A Journey through the Chakras (DVD)


Anonymous commented on 16-Dec-2011 04:17 PM3 out of 5 stars

Would you recommend this exercise for someone who is spinal cord injured, but who has some awareness?

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