What is Mulabandha?

Jen Nugent - photo by Paul B. Goode

Jen Nugent – photo by Paul B. Goode

The Pit-of-the-Belly—Engagement, Relationship, and Freedom

Mulabandha maintains life-force (prana) in the body at our root. Much more than a set of specific physical actions, mulabandha holds part of the key to full embodiment. Usually described as an energetic seal, its techniques include articulating and activating the muscles at the center of the pelvic floor, with an action of drawing both the muscles and the life-force upward, into our core, and toward the lower belly region. Mulabandha seals prana into the body at our root. It assists the preservation and maintenance of vitality. It contains. But it is also more.

Mulabandha calls upon and creates a willingness of spirit to fully inhabit our lives.  As much as mulabandha seals life force at the root, it also and equally, draws life force into us. It literally pulls us down into our bodies, into the energetic hub of the central lower navel region, the same region that is recognized as the gravitational center and hub of power in all traditions. It is the tan-tien, the hara, and in yoga it is right at the root of the kanda.

Mulabandha offers the form around which we cultivate a coalescing of aspiration, surrender, and inner sensing and feeling, with the actions and shapes that draw and sustain life-force into the body-mind system. The gifts of a full, soft and resilient mulabandha are very rich. In order to open to these levels of awareness and sensation one needs to approach mulabandha from an inclusive and receptive state of mind. It involves a profound set of mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual actions.

Looking deeply into the layers of sensation and consciousness that are part and parcel of mulabandha can be very helpful for gaining a wider and deeper perspective on our personal lives and our interrelationships with everything else. Mulabandha can be a significant tool for exploring and using the embodiment of the individual-self as a platform for inquiring into the deeper aspects of relationship and meaning. This involves a profound willingness to accept ourselves as we are, and to continue to go deeper into perception and understanding. This kind of exploration into our core is an excellent and fully embodied way to ask some of the important questions about who we are in relationship to our lives and our yoga practices. Are you willing to ask the question, “Why am I here?” without resorting to grandiosity or self-loathing? What would a purposeful existence feel like? Would it be enough to simply be yourself, do your work, and be useful? Is it okay to be a perfectly ordinary and divine human…just like 7 billion others? Can you accept the ordinary, and the extraordinary, importance of your personal dharma?

Mulabandha is a call to action – a commitment to embodied existence. Its clarity and purpose draws us into this life, to embody it fully, and be useful, useful in our own evolution as people, taking responsibility for our own lives, useful in our families, our communities, and beyond.

A full mulabandha generates and requires a profound acceptance and dedication to doing ones part, to acting in a way that is in accordance with personal and universal evolution, a moving into greater clarity and cultivating a wider vision of who and what we are on every level, from the Pure Radiant Source of Everything, all the way through the manifest planes of existence that are both beautiful… and seriously flawed. Flawed, just like you are… Admitting and embracing the depth of your personal-and-perfectly-flawed-self is crucial to being able to recognize the full range of your beauty and radiance.

In Embodyoga® we approach our spiritual journeys as a fully embodied process that we explore through all layers of our selves and our relationships. Using the kosas as a basic template for our diligent inquiries, we accept the picture of our existence as being one in which we have a lot more perceptual choice than we may initially calculate. In that, we give ourselves room to inquire into our habitual choices with more energy, in the hopes of gaining more clarity. We delve into our habitual and unconscious patterns of perceiving to notice that, in fact, often, we could see things form an entirely different and larger perspective. This inevitably leads to greater self-comfort as we begin to recognize that we are not alone in our struggles, and that many of our personal challenges are universal in nature. That feels good, and enjoyment and increasing comfort keeps propelling us deeper. Our growing recognition of inner space and clarity breeds a more compassionate and wider vision of who we are personally and in relationship to life as a whole. Basically, the entire picture of life as we know it, becomes more enjoyable and comfortable as we recognize that we are actually part of, and not separate from, the universal whole.

We learn that our body-minds are awake, alive, and self-aware sheaths of undulating and spinning layers of form…upon form…upon form, inextricably woven through with the force of awareness-consciousness-comfort (sat-chit-ananda) … and love. We perceive and understand that our personal form is what we are given to use for our explorations into anything and everything. We know that life is rich, full of sorrow and joy, and that it is for living. We recognize the difficulties and the beauty and we say, “Yes, I will engage. I will be part of this, and do my best.” In other words, we choose to accept that we are part of a relational universe. We chose to engage through commitment, self-acceptance, work, and love. Rather than extricate and isolate, we choose to integrate and engage.

For those of us who choose engagement, mulabandha offers deep support for making a full commitment to our lives. Mulabandha can become a tool for allowing oneself to be drawn within, to our deepest personal core, to make a commitment to being in this form. This is a saying “Yes”, to life. It provides a place and a home inside of us for condensing and coalescing around our personal and divine purpose in life – our dharma.

This is a big responsibility and there is a lot of personal agency involved. We need to be motivated.  Mulabandha is not automatic. It is a developmental choice that must be made. It is to engage or not engage…to take responsibility for our lives and ourselves in every way…or not. To open to the work that is ours and to make a full commitment to being in this embodied form. This is an incredibly big deal. Making a commitment to one’s life may feel at first glance like it has been done. But has it? We need to revisit this over and over again so that we remain vitally engaged, connected to Source and purpose, to feel comfortable and useful.

In the skillful practice of mulabandha, the heart, mind and intention are as important as the physical actions. Commitment is key. Structurally, mula bandha has two levels. One is at the center of the pelvic floor embedded in the perineal body. The second is a dense hub of life-force, right in the center of the lower belly. This energetic hub is located about two or three fingerbreadths above the top of pubic symphysis (which is right between the two pubic bones) and tethered directly to the perineal body at the base. In Embodyoga® will call this energetic hub the pit-of-the-belly.

Mulabandha is a simultaneous drawing upward from the perineal body and a coalescing and condensing of the pit-of-the-belly. The pit-of-the-belly is the primary gravitational core that draws and maintains life force into, and within, our embodied form. The coalescing and condensing at the pit-of-the-belly is a powerful magnetic pull into personal core. The pit-of-the-belly both draws life force into itself, and emanates intelligence from itself.

The power of the pit-of-the-belly was established in us as one of our very earliest embryological developments. This center is a key spiritual-energetic-physical core that offers an embodied place to make a thorough and profoundly courageous dedication to being in form and living our life’s work.

There are other important structures and actions that provide the necessary support for a successful mulabandha. Key actions relate to the reaching downward and earthward of the coccygeal body (glandular style substance tucked under the bone of the coccyx) and the receding of the pubic disc. These actions create stability and rootedness at our base. When combined with the clear actions, intention and persistent awareness of mulabandha we have an unshakable base from which to function and enjoy life. Suppleness and ease are important. There is never a hardening associated with an invitation to recognize and feel more – the invitation of mulabandha.

•    Allow and feel the sensations and resilience of the pelvic floor.
•    Root downward with the lively coccygeal body at the tip of the tail. Coccygeal energy is like a taproot that is going down to find and penetrate the earth in order to grow.
•    Gently squeeze and pulse the pubic disc in toward the body without hardening as the tail releases – excitedly, toward the earth.
•    Begin to pulse upward at the center of the pelvic diaphragm to draw the perineal body upward. Feel its tether to the hub of the pit-of-the-belly right above it.
•    Notice the drawing of life-force into the belly pit. Explore the intelligence and the deep comfort of your embodied acceptance of this personal human hub of life force. Cradle it and hold it tenderly so that it can develop and begin to fully express its strength.
•    Curl around the belly pit. Drop in deeply with body and mind, condense and contain.
•    Feel what you are doing as you do it. Feel the layers of you accepting and feeling your tether into this life. Take responsibility for your life. Really.

If you like, agree to be a part of the team of Vast Intelligence manifesting. Say, “Yes”, to life. No need to be exceptional or extraordinary. Just this. Just this life. It is more than enough. Figure it out. And yield to what actually is.

(Read more about mulabandha in The Embryological Foundations of Mulabandha and the Prana Vayus – Part 1 and The Embryological Foundations of Mulabandha – Part 2

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