Ashtanga Quotes,  Reblogs,  Yoga Philosophy

Check This Out: Is There a Relationship Between Mula Bandha and Ahimsa?

Very interesting article. Never seen these two points related. Original by David Garrigues. Posted Here.


Part I

Ashtanga Yoga (as in the 8 limbs) begins with Ahimsa, non-harming. Yama is the first limb of the eight limbs and ahimsa is the first Yama. Thus ahimsa can be considered the base, the very foundation and support of the 8 eight limbs. Consider the use of the word ahimsa, the main root himsa, means violence, harm, aggression. When you add the “A” in front of it it becomes ahimsa, the opposite of himsa. The use of the word Ahimsa in this ‘negative’ manner is intentional. For example the first yama could have been ‘peace’ or ‘care’ but instead it is stated as the opposite of non peace. That is because himsa is simply inherent, part of you and me, an automatic, survival response to fear and/or perceived threat.


Often emotionally we start from himsa, we are born with a bent, a tendency to express aggression and violence under certain circumstances. In order to get to peace or empathy, we need to find our way through our aggression by cultivating its opposite. You must adopt a conscious stance or intention that helps you turn your energy around and go ‘against the grain’; to find a different choice, as was practiced by both Gandhi and MLK.


Stated positively Ahimsa means care, extraordinarily high level, genuine, deep, sustained care; the kind of care that begins within your body when you take up a serious, soulful asana practice. Curiously both mula bandha and ahimsa are found together there. They are both foundational, core practices that involve harnessing the powerful energy that exists in the form of deep drives within us. Mula bandha and ahimsa involve redirection of this energy, a causing of this energy to move out of mundane channels, to flow along spiritual channels to draw forth what is real and what has truth within us.


Ahimsa and mula bandha meet as two complimentary allies in your daily practice, in fact with practice you discover they are one and the same practice. In yoga when you enter into the body, you enter into your center, the realm of mula bandha, the root support at the base of the spine. Breathing, moving, and creating your stance, or posture from center gives you a kind of empathy and willingness to be open to your self, leads you to relate to and work to understand anything and everything that occurs within you. This is the basis of ahimsa and the foundation of yoga practice. You find that in order to get a grip on the practice of ahimsa, you must also work on mula bandha and vice versa.


Guruji insisted on the importance of practicing and performing Mula Bandha. He said that mula bandha is a contraction of the anus, gives mind control and must be practiced 24/7. In a recent conference with Sharath Jois (Guruji’s grandson), Sharath related a story about how he asked Guruji about the difficulties he was having with a challenging section of an advanced series postures. This set of postures requires you to alternate between opposing postural patterns (ie extreme extension to flexion etc) without a warm up, without the hand holding type of continuity of first or second or even third series offers. Guruji told Sharath it was only possible to master this sequence by achieving a strong Mula Bandha. This story lit up the point that you practice Mula Bandha to strengthen your base, your center so as to be able to choose more freely both physically and psychologically, and thus not get caught in one kind of pattern or groove. You become oriented and strong in the middle, in your core, and become capable of switching between patterns, even extreme opposites with relative ease. Mula bandha could be defined as ‘the ability to stay rooted and centered with ease and thus to stop and redirect your self as is desired and necessary. Ahimsa requires this same ability, you must learn how to respond creatively to the strong drives within you, neither blindly following their dictates, nor rejecting their power and the directions they may be indicating that you need to explore.


See the rest of the article here

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail

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