If a bandha means a bind or energetic lock in the body then certainly a Kegel is the Sanskrit word for key. Yesterday, I nearly laughed out loud during shavasana when this faux-analogy sprang to mind. Within Moola Bandha – The Master Key, you will not find any mention of Arnold Kegel’s pelvic exercises. MB is essentially yoga’s comprehensive guide to the application and practice of its namesake technique.
Don’t be fooled. The first half of MB is devoted to explaining the application of moola bandha – root lock. Swami Buddhananda presents topics ranging from classical accounts of the chakras and kundalini raising to a modern scientific discourse on the neurophysiology of the pelvic floor region. Being a student of both yoga and science, I especially enjoyed reading descriptive nuggets like the ones presented below:
“The nerve which supplies the perineum is the pubendal nerve. It derives its fibers from the second third and fourth sacral nerves which originates from the the sacral plexus in the lower back…yet despite all its networks, myriads of pathways and connections, it is possible to unravel its mysteries and regain conscious control of the total organism” (24).
“Parasympathetic fibers concerned with relaxation emerge only from the neck (cervical) and sacral (pelvic) areas of the spinal cord…with the application of moola bandha the whole internal environment is altered, the blood pressure decreases, as do the respiration, heart rate, and so on.”
Regrettably, classical yoga texts are scant with female specific advice. One huge asset to MB is that it strongly addresses this deficiency by providing gender specific recommendations. After all, Buddhananda is a female yoga teacher and scholar. Therefore she is genuinely able to attest to the effects which moola bandha has on female physiology, psychology, and spiritual aspirations.
The second half of MB contains practical information. Practices such as maha mudra, in which one performs pranayama while sitting on their heel, are presented. More advances poses such as hanumanasana and moolabandhasana are presented to guide advanced students. The appendix contains a scholarly reflection the parallels between moola bandha and acupuncture – not to be missed.
This Sunday at YVT, I will teach the primary series of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga with an emphasis on moola bandha.