Are the Pelvic Floor and Mula Bandha the same?
The Pelvic Floor and Mula Bandha are not the same, they are completely different. They share a similar location and when one is activated so too is the other. Each technique is performed for different reasons and when executing them the focus and intent is completely different.
However, a well-toned pelvic floor makes activating mula bandha easier and each time you engage mula bandha you also work the pelvic floor.
The Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is a muscular band, it sits in the pelvis, it connects to the pubis bone at the front and the coccyx at the back and each sitting bone. The pelvic floor is able to move up and down. It provides support for the pelvic organs. A well-toned pelvic floor will help maintain good bladder and bowel control and prevents internal prolapses from occurring or progressing.
The Pelvic Floor also forms part of the group of muscles commonly referred to as the Core, these muscles help to stabilise and protect the pelvis and lower back. A strong core brings so many benefits and is required for good alignment, balance, movement and protection.
From a health point of view a strong pelvic floor is vital, these muscles are often forgotten about, but they are soon remembered when they begin to weaken as symptoms of a weak pelvic floor can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Yoga practices help to develop a strong pelvic floor.
The Mula Bandha (the root lock)
The Mula Bandha is an energy lock it is used to seal pranic energy inside the body and helps to redirect prana to different areas including Muladhara the root chakra. Mula Bandha intensifies some yoga postures and techniques.
A well-toned pelvic floor makes it much easier to activate mula bandha and then access the deep potential of the practice.
Bringing mula bandha into your yoga practice will help move your practice from a physical one to a spiritual one. Mula Bandha helps to balance the chakras and improve the flow of prana around your body.
When mula bandha is activated it locks and seals pranic energy (vital life force) inside the body. Ancient Yogis through a lot of practise used bandhas to redirect the energy to the central nadi (sushumna nadi) this energy was then to uncoil and rise up through each individual chakra, helping early yogis access deep spiritual planes.
On a physical level mula bandha will help to maintain a well-toned pelvic floor. Often through the physical practices we are able to access some of the spiritual benefits of the practice too.
Different teachers and different schools of yoga teach Mula Bandha differently, in some instances it is taught as a contraction of the perineum and other schools teach mula bandha as the highest point of the contracted pelvic floor. Some say it is located on the cervix for a woman and a perineum for a man. When practicing the technique visualise it energetically, sealing prana inside the body as you draw up the pelvic floor and see what location works best for you.
The Pancha Koshas that are first described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika the Ancient Yoga Teachings of Svatmarama, provides an easy explanation as to why the Pelvic Floor and Mula Bandha are so different.
The Pancha Koshas are also known as the 5 layers of human existence the first layer is the physical body Annamaya Kosha and the second is the energetic body Pranamaya Kosha.
Quite simply the Pelvic floor is located in the physical body and the mula bandha forms part of the energetic body.
Discover more about the Pancha Koshas here.