From the beginning there never was a secret, every mystery you have ever wondered about has been hidden in plain sight.

We are the Ātmeśvara Mārga School, and if we took ourselves seriously enough to have an "official" voice, this would be it. We are dedicated to the process of human integration, of moving from the segregated, mechanistic, conditioned state, to the Integrated, unconditioned state of the awake, adult human.

Friday, January 16, 2009

More About Yoga: Advanced Breath Techniques for the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation

The following is instruction for those practicing the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation, referred to here, as simply the 5 Tibetans:

While the basic movements of the 5 Tibetans are easily found online, in books or videos, the effectiveness of the practice is greatly enhanced by inclusion of the Bandhas*. As far as I have seen, the Bandhas, or locks, are not commonly taught. These are coordinated with the breath and movements to create a greater ease as well as stronger energetic impact. The three locks are a little tricky to learn and take some concentration. But once integrated, they just feel like a natural extension of the breath and movement. In fact, to me, they are what really brings them together. Use of the bandhas while doing the 5 Tibetans is what will begin to increase the impact of doing this practice, and shift from restorative to regenerative benefits.
(*Bandha names a technique which works like a valve for Prana, or Energy. To engage the bandha is to lock the specific interior spaces of the body and therefore contain the energy at that point.)

Mula Bandha or the root lock (first chakra) is basically a Kegel (for women), or contracting the pubbococcygeal (PC) muscle. Squeeze and pull up the pelvic floor and begin your exhalation at the same time.

Uddiyana Bandha or the core lock (third chakra) is diaphragmatic, or pulling the abdominal muscles up and inward. This continues to squeeze the air out.

Jalandhara Bandha or the throat lock (fifth chakra) is a lengthening of the neck and dropping the chin forward towards the chest. Remember to slide the head forward before dropping your chin down. It should not block the air-flow at all. Most air is already out by then and this is your "control pause" or the space between breaths.

When all three locks are engaged sequentially, this is called the Maha Bandha or the Great Lock.

What follows is an explanation of how to include use of the Bandhas or locks in each of the exercises of the 5 Tibetan Rites.

1st Tibetan:
Only the root and core lock are engaged during the spinning. Begin with the root lock and exhale and slightly engage the diaphragm as you begin the spin. Relax the lock as you reach 180 and let air come back in.

2nd Tibetan:
Begin with the root lock and exhale. This will engage the abdominal muscle and core lock. Bring the head up and engage the chin lock. You can watch your feet go up. All the air is squeezed out and as you slowly lower your legs, allow air to seep back into your lungs, relaxing the root, the core and last the throat.

3rd Tibetan:
Begin on your knees with hands positioned for support on the upper buttocks. Root lock/squeeze/begin exhalation. Engage the core/pull the abs up and in/to push more air out. Slide head forward and drop chin towards chest. Relax the throat, then the core and last the root as you extend your backward movement. From the arched and relaxed position, begin again with the root lock/exhale. Then tighten the abs and keep exhaling as this pulls you forward. Finish with the throat lock and chin drop.

4th Tibetan:
Begin in the upright seated position. Begin with the root lock. Exhale, tighten abs/core lock. Drop chin/ throat lock. Relax throat as your head comes up. Relax the core, and then the root as you push up into the Table. Begin with root lock/exhale. Then core lock/ pull up abs/diaphragm as you swing back down into the seated position. And complete with the sliding head forward and dropping the chin forward for the throat lock.

5th Tibetan:
Begin in Upward Facing Dog with lungs open and relaxed. Exhale/root lock. Tighten abs/core lock and push up into Downward Facing Dog. Do Not engage the throat lock, as in the 5th Tibetan we want to allow the energy to move into the head. Relax the diaphragm and then the root lock as you move back into Upward Facing Dog.


John said...

Some good details that will take some time for me to incorporate into my practice.

One detail that I have been working hard at is controlling unnecessary muscular tension. The facial muscles, but also unnecessary tensing of the shoulders, chest, etc.

Janet said...

I remember when I discovered that I was tensing my face in up dog. There was a noticeable gain in energy upon relaxing that one spot. You can transfer the energy from where you're holding it, to where you need it more. Sweet efficiency:-)

John said...

It has also helped me notice a persistent pattern of muscular tension that I am now working at daily (even hourly). Basically when I notice this tension I release it.

* ** * * *

I tried out a bit of the locks tonight. When I was doing them it almost felt like an alternating wave motion of tension and relaxation up and down the core.

Interesting. This actually changes my outlook on the Tibetans significantly.

Janet said...

Let me know if you want to go over it together sometime when we're both at the dojo.