The Sanskrit word moola (also written mula) means ‘root, firmly fixed, source or cause, basis, the foot, lowest part or bottom, foundation’.
Bandha means ‘lock, restrain, shut or close’. Together the words moola and bandha refer to the contraction of mooladhara chakra, the seat of kundalini. This contraction is triggered at the ‘root’ of the spine or the trunk of the body, the perineum. Moola bandha is known as the ‘perineal lock’, contraction of the muscles around the perineal body in the male and the cervix in the female, in order to release and control energy generated by the mooladhara chakra.
Moola bandha occurs simultaneously at many levels. On the physical level it is the physical contraction of muscles. However, when refined, moola bandha is the contraction of mooladhara chakra. It is important to note, therefore, that moola bandha is not just the contraction of the perineal body/cervix but also the ‘locking’ (contraction) of mooladhara chakra. The perineal body and cervix act as trigger points to enable us to locate the psychic centre of mooladhara chakra.
When kundalini shakti is awakened and arises from her sleep, she is the vehicle for the expansion of consciousness, enabling the individual to fully develop his innate potential and rise beyond the mundane realm of birth and death to the level of divinity.
The importance of moola bandha
The importance of moola bandha should not under estimated, for its perfection leads to a spontaneous realignment of the physical, mental and psychic bodies. The physical contraction of the perineum has the beneficial effects of: maintaining hormonal balance and stimulating and regulating the nerves that innervate the lower pelvic region, thereby regulating all the internal organs.
Moola bandha is therefore an important tool in the treatment of physical diseases of the lower abdomen e.g. digestive ailments and sexual disorders. Because the body and mind are inextricably interlinked, ‘as in the body, so in the mind,’ an effect on one cannot pass unnoticed by the other. Accordingly, moola bandha has the immediate effect of creating a deep sense of mental relaxation, thereby relieving most mental and psychosomatic disorders which are the direct or indirect effect of stress, tension and anxiety.
As a mental relaxant, moola bandha has been found extremely useful in the treatment of such mental disorders. as depression, neurosis, some phobias, hysteria and mania. Little experimental evidence exists to substantiate the effects of moola bandha on psychosis. However, because of its effects on the brain and by virtue of the fact that moola bandha is effective in the treatment of both mania and depression, it has proved useful in correcting the extreme moods characteristic of manic-depressive psychosis, and in some cases of schizophrenia, especially in the early stages.
The effects of moola bandha on the pranic level are more pronounced than those on the physical and mental levels. It has a subtle yet powerful effect on the psychic body, acting as a trigger for the awakening of mooladhara chakra and kundalini. In so doing, moola bandha also helps to release the brahma granthi (psychic knot at mooladhara chakra) allowing the prana to flow up sushumna nadi. This means that moola bandha prepares one for true spiritual awakening. An aspiring sadhaka should treat moola bandha as part and parcel of his main sadhana. Though it may take time to perfect it, he will derive physical, mental and spiritual benefits far beyond his dreams or expectations.
Scriptural references Numerous scriptural references exist that further indicate the importance of moola bandha. In typical allegorical fashion the Hatha Yoga Pradipika states: “As the chief of the snakes is the support of the earth with all the mountains and forests on it, so all the tantras (yoga practices) rest on the kundalini. When the sleeping kundalini is awakened by the favour of a guru, then all the lotuses (in the six chakras or centres) and all the knots are pierced through. Sushumna nadi becomes a main road for the passage of prana. The mind itself then becomes free from all connections (with its objects of enjoyment) and death is evaded. Sushumna, shoonya padavi, brahma nadi (the innermost hollow of sushumna), mahapatha, shmash ana, shambhavi, madhyamarg are names of one and the same thing.
“In order, therefore, to awaken this goddess who is sleeping at the entrance of brahma dwar (the great door), bandhas should be practised. Maha mudra, maha bandha, maha bheda, khechari, uddiyana bandha, moola bandha, jalandhara bandha, vipareeta karani, vajroli and shakti chalini. These are the ten practices which annihilate old age and death. They have been explained by Adinatha (Shiva) and give eight kinds of divine wealth. They are loved by all the siddhas (perfected ones) and are hard to attain even by the Maruts. These practices should be kept secret by every means, as one keeps a box of jewellery, and should on no account be told to anyone, just as husband and wife keep their dealings secret.”
(HYP, 3:1-9) In contrast the Gheranda Samhita, far more direct in its approach, simply indicates that there are twenty-five techniques, the practice of which “gives success to the yogins”. (GS, 3:1-3) Moola bandha is listed as one of these techniques.
Moola bandha is further referred to in the Siva Samhita where out of the many yoga practices it is listed as one of the ten best: “Now I shall tell you the best means of attaining success in yoga. The practitioners should keep it secret.
It is the inaccessible yoga. When the sleeping goddess Kundalini is awakened through the grace of guru, then all the lotuses and the bonds are readily pierced through and through. Therefore, in order that the goddess who is asleep in the mouth of the brahma nadi be awakened, the bandhas should be practised with the greatest care.
Out of the many practices, the following ten are the best: maha mudra, maha bandha, maha bheda, khechari, jalandhara, moola bandha, vipareeta karani, uddiyana, vajroli and shakti chalini.” (SS, 4:12-15) Regarding the techniques and benefits of moola bandha, the scriptures are equally lucid. In chapter nine of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the following is stated: “Press the heel against the perineum and contract it firmly.
Draw the apana upwards. This is known as moola bandha. (9:61) The downward action of apana should be directed upward by the contraction of the perineum. (9:62) Moola bandha brings about the union of prana and apana, and nada and bindu. This will bestow perfection in yoga.
Of this there is no doubt. (9:64) The apana moves upwards and when it reaches the circle of fire (manipura chakra) the flame lengthens and reaches anahata chakra. (9:65) When the apana and the fire meet (at manipura) the prana is heated. This increases the digestive fire. (9:67) Due to this kindling of fire, apana and prana, the sleeping kundalini is awakened; it becomes straight like a snake beaten by a stick. (9:68) The kundalini enters the brahma nadi in the same way that a snake enters a hole. The yogi should therefore practise moola bandha daily.” (9:69) The Gheranda Samhita states: “Press with the heel of the left foot the region between the anus and the scrotum, and contract the rectum; carefully press the intestines behind the navel on the spine; and put the right heel on the organ of generation or pubes. This is called moola bandha, destroyer of decay.
The person who desires to cross the ocean of samsara, let him go to a retired place and practise this bandha in secrecy. By this practice the vayu (prana) is controlled undoubtedly; let one silently practise this, without laziness and with care.” (GS, 3 14-17) The Siva Samhita states: “Pressing well the anus with the heel, forcibly draw the apana vayu slowly upwards by practise. This is described as moola bandha, destroyer of decay and death. If, in the course of practise of this bandha, the yogi can unite the apana with the prana vayu, then it becomes yoni mudra. One who has accomplished yoni mudra, what can he not accomplish in this world? Sitting in padmasana posture, free from idleness, the yogi leaves the ground and moves through the air by means of this bandha. If the wise yogi is desirous of crossing the ocean of the world, let him practise this bandha in secret, in a retired place.”
(SS, 4:41-44) In Yogataravali written by Jagatguru Adishankaracharya, moola bandha is also mentioned: “By contracting the adhara padma (mooladhara chakra) the fire within it is increased. If one is able at the same time to enter the apana into ida nadi, he will drink of the nectar which springs from the moon (bindu chakra) and become immortal.” (Sutra 7) Moola bandha is referred to in several of the Upanishads. According to Yoga Tattva, Shandilya, Yoga Chudamani and Yoga Shikha Upanishads, the perfection of moola bandha brings about the union of prana and apana. When they are joined together the union of nada and bindu can also take place. With this many siddhis (psychic abilities) are achieved. In the Dhyanabindu and Shandilya Upanishads it is also stated that he who perfects moola bandha regains his youthful vitality and is victor over old age and death.
Moola bandha is also widely mentioned in modern yogic literature. In The Serpent Power by Sir John Woodroffe, a recognized specialist in tantra, moola bandha is referred to: “In moola bandha the perineal region (yoni) is pressed with the foot, the rectal muscle contracted (by ashwini mudra) and the apana drawn up.
The natural course of the apana is downwards but by contraction at the mooladhara it is made to go upwards through the sushumna where it meets prana.” In Light on Yoga, Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, an expert in hatha yoga says that by contracting the region between the anus and the scrotum (the perineum) one performs moola bandha. “Apana vayu (the prana in the lower abdomen), whose course is downwards, is made to flow up to unite with the prana vayu, which has its seat in the region of the chest.”
These ancient texts are in agreement as to the efficacy and power of moola bandha. They were written from personal experience, and have served as the foundation for the myriad schools of tantra and yoga now in existence.
The irtestimony has been further backed up by countless generations of aspiring sadhakas who have proven for themselves what they saw written in the texts. You too can have this experience if you are diligent, steadfast and determined.