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Traditionally, bandhas were classified as part of mudrasm, and were handed down by word of mouth from guru to disciple.  The Hatha Yoga Pradipika deals with bandhas and mudras together and the ancient tantric texts also make no distinction between the two. Bandhas are extensively incorporated in mudra as well as pranayama techniques. Their locking action, however, reveals them as a fundamentally important group of practices in their own right.

The Sanskrit word bandha means to “hold”, “tighten” or “Lock”. These definitions precisely describe the physical action involved in the bandha practices and their effect on the pranic body. The bandhas aim to lock the pranas in particular areas and redirect their flow into sushumna nadi for the purpose of spiritually awakening.

Bandhas may be practiced individually or incorporated with mudra and pranayama practices. When combined in this way, they awaken the psychic faculties and form an adjust to higher yogic practices.

BANDHAS AND THE GRANTHIS
There are four bandhas:jalandhara bandhas, moola bandha, uddiyana bandha and maha bandha.  The last of these is a combination of the first three.  These three bandhas directly act on the three granthis or psychic knots. Moola bandha is associated with brahma granthi, uddiyana bandha with Vishnu granthi and jalandhara abandha with rudra grandhi. The granthis prevent the free flow of prana along sushumna nadi and thus impede the awakening of the chakras and the rising of kundalini.

Brahama granthi is the first knot and it is associated with mooladhara and swadhisthana chakras.  It is linked with the survival instinct, the urge to procreate and with deep, instinctive knowledge, awareness and desire.  When brahma granthi is transcended, the kundalini or primal energy is able to rise beyond mooladhara and swadhisthana without being pulled back down by the attractions and instinctual patterns of the personality. 


The second knot is Vishnu granthi, associated with manipura and anahata chakras.  These two chakras are associated with the sustenance of the physical, emotional and mental aspects of human existence.  Manipura sustains annamaya kosha, the physical body, governing the digestion and metabolism of food. Anahata sustains manomaya kosha, the mental body, and pranamaya kosha, the energy body.  Once Vishnu granthi is transcended, energy is drawn from the universe and not from the localized centers within the human being.

The final knot is rudra granthi, which is associated with vishuddhi and ajna chakras. Vishuddhi and ajna sustain vijnanamaya kosha, the intuitive or higher mental body, and represent the transformation of an existing form, idea or concept into its universal aspect.  When rudra granthi is pierced, individuality is dropped, the old ego awareness is left behind and the experience of unman fest consciousness emerges ajna chakra at sahasrara.

 
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