Moola bandha has a twofold role in the treatment of disease at both a therapeutic and preventive practice. At the therapeutic level it allows us to regain a state of health on the physical, emotional and mental planes, while at the preventive level it allows us to maintain health and expand our normal, stable function to the cosmic level where we can do, and enjoy, so much more. By this subtle yet powerful practice, we gain control over many of the neural, pranic and psychic faculties which we have not been able to consciously utilize due to ignorance of their existence.
Moola bandha is an energy charging practice with great specific benefit for many diseases of mental and pranic origin, where there is depression of physical energy, imbalance in the pranic body or imbalance of the mental body. It should not be used therapeutically in high energy diseases of the physical body such as high blood pressure, vertigo, high intracranial pressure, amenorrhoea.
At the physical level, it is directly effective in such diseases as: piles, constipation, anal fissures, ulcers, prostatitis, some cases of prostatic hypertrophy, and chronic pelvic infections. Because it releases energy, it is also effective in other illnesses especially psychosomatic and some degenerative illnesses. Its effect spreads throughout the body via the brain and endocrine systems, making it very beneficial in cases of asthma, bronchitis, arthritis, and so on.
All these problems should be handled under the expert guidance of an experienced teacher, guru, or healer who will combine moola bandha with other practices such as asanas, pranayama, kundalini kriyas, bandhas, mudras, and so on. The amount of practice will obviously vary from case to case, and should be coupled with an adequate diet, a positive attitude, and willingness to forfeit certain behaviour patterns directly attributed to the cause of the complaint. We have experienced that moola bandha is most effective when applied to sexual and psychological problems.
Moola bandha is both a means to sexual control, brahmach arya, and to alleviate a multitude of sexual problems. This apparently contradictory statement has created a great deal of debate, concern and confusion, most people fearing that through the practice of moola bandha they will become impotent or celibate. From both the scientific and spiritual view, moola bandha does not cause loss of sexual virility, rather, it allows one to direct sexual energy either upward for spiritual development, or downward to enhance marital relations. In this way we remove guilt, frustration and suppression of sexual energy, associated with misdirection of the life force that leads on to psychological disease, neurosis and psychosomatic degeneration.
The psychic energy of the body can be expressed or manifested in different ways, including both spiritual and sexual expression. The notion of expressing energy is a basic teaching of yoga, particularly kundalini yoga.
In the words of Dr Jack Lee Rosenberg, author of Total Orgasm: “Spirituality and orgasm are different expressions of the same life force. There is a great similarity between an intense religious experience and a total orgasm. Each is often called a ‘peak experience’. . . a feeling of being at one with the universe for a brief moment. In orgasm, the experience of being swept out of the ego or mind is not uncommon. The giving of oneself to another with love, total surrender, loss of duality and merger describes the religious experience as well as it describes sexual union.” Moola bandha increases vitality. For this reason it is extremely useful in treatment of many sexual problems of an inhibitory nature such as impotence, fear of sexua expression and underperformance, and so on. The success ful practice of moola bandha in these cases re-establishes normal, healthy sexual relations, thereby enhancing or recreating harmony in the total marital relationship.
Moola bandha also increases sexual retentive power. The implications of this further magnify the possibility of retrieving the threads of a marital relationship threatened with extinction by the sexual dissatisfaction of one or both of its partners. With an increase in sexual retentiveness, sexual relations become more satisfying and fulfilling. Utilizing further tantric practices with awareness, breath control and spiritual appreciation of the divinity residing in one’s partner, it is also possible to further enhance the sexual act. Through the practice of moola bandha, sexual relationships will tend to be more enjoyable and spiritually more meaningful. For, by realizing the true nature of the primal energy residing in mooladhara, your sexual partner becomes as one of the gods and the sexual act a symbolic expression of the union of Shiva (male, consciousness) and Shakti (female, energy). Both the householder and the renunciate are striving for this mystical union but where the householder achieves union through the framework of marriage, the renunciate sublimates outward sexual expression to achieve inner union. The paths vary for not everyone is suited to the same kind of lifestyle. However, the goal is the same: the transcendental union of consciousness and energy.
Female: Moola bandha may be used to alleviate dysmenor rhoea (painful menstruation); however, if you have amenorrhoea (absence of period) refrain from the practice of moola bandha until you have sought the expert guidance of a doctor and yoga teacher who will assess the cause. Moola bandha has also proved useful in childbirth. A pregnant woman may continue to practise moola bandha along with certain other yogic practices right up to the time of labour in order to maintain elasticity in the vaginal muscles, aiding in painless delivery. It is also suggested that women should practise moola bandha, ashwini and vajroli mudras, and other yoga practices, immediately after childbirth as this will assist in retoning muscles stretched during pregnancy. Moola bandha is also excellent for treating prolapse, leucorrhoea and urinary (stress) incontinence.
Male: Moola bandha alleviates spermatthorea (leakage of semen), helps prevent inguinal hernia, and controls. testosterone secretion and sperm formation; pacifies passions, which influences coronary behaviour.
Scientific research has shown that the problems associated with menopause are closely correlated with one’s mental and emotional state. Men and women who are cheerful, healthy, and have a positive outlook on life pass through menopause with little or no difficulty.
However because the physical effects are more evident in women, a larger percentage may tend to become pessimistic, depressed, worried and anxious, and have a great deal of trouble accepting and handling menopause.
The practice of moola bandha allows for a smooth metamorphosis at this time by rebalancing hormonal changes, preventing such unpleasant symptoms as lethargy, irritability, depression, high blood pressure and giddiness. Contrary to numerous superstitions and myths, people do not lose their sexuality at menopause, rather their capacity for sexual expression continues into old age. Thus moola bandha will ensure continuity of a healthy, fulfilling life and may be performed from two different points of view as follows: 1. For the householder, in order to solve sexual problems and enhance, maintain and sustain a healthy sexual
- For the renunciate, to sublimate the energy of overt sexual expression into the awakening of higher centres. In both cases, constant awareness of the spirituality inherent in sexual energy can be maintained, transforming the sensual act into spiritual union. It is possible that through the practice of moola bandha immense sexual energy will be generated. Then this energy must find a positive means of expression; the sadhaka begins to perform vajroli mudra so that it may be rechannelled upwards into the sushumna. Others find an expression for this energy through working ainti writing, inventing, and so on. Whatever the avenue of expression, this vital energy or ojas should not be lost or wasted in idle sensual enjoyment. Ultimately, ojas is the majestic unfoldment of the most highly refined conscious ness. Whether it reaches its final culmination in the sahasrara or remains bound by the walls of mooladhara is a decision that exemplifies a turning point to spiritual life.
Psychotherapeutic value Moola bandha, and bandhas in general, are a powerful means of relaxing the body and mind. They relax the mental tenseness that we see mirrored in various personalities as phobia, mania, hysteria, depression, and anxiety. Even schizophrenia and other psychoses are amenable to moola therapy if they are caught in their early stages and the personality has been previously stable. This is because moola bandha is a mental purgative, releasing the subconscious and unconscious mind of suppressed anxieties and hidden mental blocks beyond the consciousness, yet causing difficulties in life.
If the body is healthy, moola bandha increases the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering the breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure and stabilizing the brain waves. The whole endocrine system is rebalanced which leads to stabilization and equilibrium of the personal ity. As a result of this the mind starts to feel relaxed and healthy. We come in touch with the body and learn how to control it. The mind is a wondrous and amazing thing but few of us have realized its infinite capacity. Moola bandha, even though to the uninitiated it may seem no more than simple physical muscle contraction, is one means of raising our normal consciousness and fulfilling its enormous potential by the arousal of kundalini shakti.
The psychophysical relationship
Moola bandha capitalizes on the mind-body link. We might wonder how it is that contraction of such a small area of the physical body can have such powerful effects on the whole human organism. Yogic philosophy states that the effects of moola bandha are more powerful than contraction of all the other muscles of the body combined. To better understand this we can turn to modern western psychological theory.
Forty years ago, the American psychologist Edward Jacobson pioneered the first major work into the area of relaxation. He gathered evidence to show that through relaxation certain changes in the autonomic nervous system were facilitated, e.g. blood pressure and heart rate decreases, the breathing pattern becomes more regular and stable, and the level of adrenaline released into the bloodstream decreases. This research was conducted in passive relaxation techniques. As interest grew and the experimental procedures became more elaborate, it became apparent that the physiological changes due to relaxation were associated with certain psychological states, such as: calmness, optimism, positiveness, peace of mind and also increased concentration.
Further physiological research realized the important fact that mental tension and anxiety are absorbed into the muscle structure of the body in the form of spasm or rigidity. With this realization, orthodox passive techniques moved in a new direction known as ‘dynamic relaxation’.
Attention was directed towards the muscles, and various methods, including massage techniques, were devised to alleviate muscle rigidity. The most effective method, and the one still most commonly used today, was incorporated into what is called muscle relaxation therapy. In this therapy the subject is not a passive recipient but an active (dynamic) participant. This technique showed that the most efficient way to release muscle spasm was to first exaggerate the tension in muscle groups by powerfully contracting the muscles to the limit and then slowly releasing the contraction. By this, not only did the patient experience the feeling of ‘letting go’ but he also became consciously aware of tension spots that previously (sometimes for months and years) went unnoticed.
Moola bandha is performed in much the same way as the method already outlined for muscle relaxation therapy and its effects runs directly parallel. That is, several of the muscles connected to the perineal body are contracted and held for some duration, and then released. Inherent in this process is the release of physical and mental tensions.
The psychoemotional relationship
The view of moola bandha as relaxation therapy is only a partial one, however, for moola bandha, as we have already seen, it is not a primarily physical practice. The physical contraction is merely a means to locate a psychic body component. Then the real work starts. The unconscious mind is stimulated so that suppressed mental energy is allowed to surface into conscious awareness where we can deal with it through various yogic practices such as antar mouna, relaxed witnessing of inner experiences, with the element of control.
This release of emotional energy is called abreaction in modern psychological terminology and was a technique propagated by Freud, Bruer, Brown and others. Freud had discovered that remembering past dramas and memories was useless in the psychotherapeutic process unless emotional energy was released at the same time. This requires one to consciously relive this experience, thereby freeing one from dissipated, and functional non-disintegrated energy that creates pain and suffering.
Abreaction encourages the patient to emotionally relive or ‘abreact’ the terrifying or anxiety-provoking experiences which had led to psychological disturbance and even breakdown. In the medical setting he was drugged in order to break down inhibitions, then suggestions were made to him that he was in the original situation of terror and stress. If the abreaction was successful, the effect was to stir up tense excitement in the nervous system which often produced violent outbursts of emotion such as tears, anger, aggression, fear, and laughter.
Moola bandha is nowhere near as violent a technique as drug abreaction, but it works on the same line at a more subtle level. The relaxation of tension in the body allows suppressed energies to be released, bringing with them the conflicts and neuroses from the subconscious and uncon scious depths, purifying body and mind. As a result we may experience strange emotions, feelings and thoughts because of the practice, but these should be kept within perspective and realized to be manifestations of the cleansing process.
When the release of energy occurs through moola bandha, unconscious desires, anxieties and tensions surface. When this happens, the person, according to abreactive therapy, is encouraged to release the tension both emotionally and overtly. However, according to yoga, the release occurs through the practice of antar mouna – acting as a detached witness to all thoughts and emotion. Through mental and emotional arousal the mind is purged of unwanted stress and anxiety and we feel cleansed, freed, revitalized. Some people may want to cry, and this is a valid means of release to be encouraged by the yoga teacher. Others may laugh, overjoyed that their minds are becoming so light and free. Still others will watch the process with detached equanimity, neither crying nor laughing but just being aware. All these ways release poisonous emotional energies which have created neurotic mental and neuronal mechanisms. When learning moola bandha we proceed slowly, for if we jump into the practice without first learning detached awareness and becoming used to the release of emotional energy, we may be caught unaware, and thus be overcome by the results of the practice.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika indicates that the unconscious complexes have the capacity to become as powerful as a ‘sleeping snake struck by a stick’.
Through slow progress and expert guidance, this will not happen. If it does, then appropriate techniques and measures can be utilized to redirect energy outwards. An experienc teacher is necessary for this.
If we imagine that our neuroses are fixed patterns of brain neurones and mental mechanisms which force us to react in predetermined ways, and therefore inappropriately to our environment, we can see how they destroy our lives. Usually the energy of these neuronal and mental circuits are outside the field of our awareness. Moola bandha and other energy-releasing techniques such as kunjal send the pranic energy directly to the brain and mind, increasing our circle of awareness, which naturally starts to include within it recognition of our neurotic patterns.
As soon as we start to become aware of ourselves, we can begin to change for the better. As a result of the elimination of mental and emotional problems, increased sensitivity is developed to one’s own internal and emotional environment. It is further heightened through practising awareness. As sensitivity and awareness both expand, one’s internal vision is expanded, and in this way our mental problems can be solved as we can see the source or roots of the problems. Thus moola bandha is a means to cut the mental problems at the roots and so establish mental health and wellbeing.
Breaking through the barriers Moola bandha offers an infinitely powerful technique capable of breaking down the rigid barriers that have been built up in the mind over the years, thereby expelling deep unconscious conflicts and complexes that are not easily accessible to modern psychological techniques. This is because of moola bandha’s action on mooladhara chakra, and the pranas of the body. Psychiatry on the other hand relies on drugs and other physical processes, or psycho therapy, which cannot get into the depths of the mind.
Even abreaction therapy could not help some people, such as severe depressives too inhibited to release the required amount of emotion to break up the depressive condition. Perhaps this was because these more severe and long-term conditions had become cemented into the body and mind and thus were no longer amenable to abreaction, because abreaction only allows free unconscious material to rise and be expelled, not concentrating on the physical aspects of anxiety.
Wilhelm Reich’s work with repressed sexual energy exemplifies the above concepts. He formulated the concept of ‘character armour’ or muscle tension and posture rigidity which he says makes itself felt as ‘character resistance’ (instinctual desires and defensive functions of the ego). Character armour, for Reich, represented layers of defence mechanisms which had been psychosomatically transferred into the physical body and could be pictorially schematized similar to geological or archaeological stratifica tion. As such it represented the ‘solidified history, of the patient, the deeper tensions being the oldest. Reich states that conflicts which have been active at a certain period of life always leave their traces in the character, in the form of physical and mental rigidity. Each conflict forms a layer in the individual’s character. Each of these layers in the character structure is a piece of life history which is preserved in another form, that is, physically, and is still active. He demonstrated that by loosening up these layers, the old conflicts could – more or less easily be revived. If the layers were particularly numerous and functioning automatically, if they formed a compact unit which was difficult to penetrate, they seemed like an ‘armour’ surrounding the living organism. The armour may be superficial or deep lying, soft as a sponge or hard as nails. However, in each case its function was to protect against displeasure.
Reichian schools of psychology have developed various forms of exercises which resemble asanas and mudras, designed to release pent-up emotions, anxieties and repressions. These exercises concentrate on releasing prana, which they call bioenergy. Thus it is similar in many respects to moola bandha and other yogic techniques. However, no abreactive, Reichian, or relaxation therapy in psycholo has yet utilized the perineum in contraction, let alone perineal body and cervix.
The technique of moola bandha had been a closely guarded secret for millennia. By contracting the mooladhara chakra we have a more powerful technique than all the modern psychological techniques put together. They look like child’s play compared with a technique offering infinite bliss, knowledge and enlightenment.
We have seen many cases of severe depression clear up quickly and without emotional or psychic trauma through the practice of moola bandha even though the individuals concerned were close to suicide. They experienced old memories, emotions, and experiences, but because of training in detached awareness, the memories passed into conscious ness and out again, like bubbles floating harmlessly to the surface and bursting.
So moola bandha has the potential to release us from the depressions, neuroses and other psychological problems that dampen our joy in life and prevent us from fulfilling our potential, through raising of kundalini shakti. Moola bandha is safe (when practised according to the instructions), efficient and simple. Coupled with its purgative qualities, capable of ‘spring cleaning’ the mental and emotional body, moola bandha is a technique to open the door to freedom, joy and liberation.