Shiva Rea Gets Real About the Root Lock: A Woman's Guide to Mula Bandha

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Like many yoginis, I’ve tried futilely to squeeze the area I think is the root lock as a teacher calls out “activate Mula Bandha!” But those Sanskrit words came with as much instruction as how to roll out your sticky mat. And where is the perineum anyway?

In walks Shiva Rea, the worldwide teaching sensation who embodies the very essence of sacred feminine, fire and grace. Turns out, even she was once shy about sharing this knowledge.

“It’s pretty amazing that Mula Bandha is actually stimulating the very same process that creates orgasm,” Shiva Rea told me after her class at Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego. “We think it’s far-out or neo-tantric to talk about orgasm. But after you’re 40 you’re like ‘life is short, let’s not reinforce any more disconnection.’”

So in the spirit of getting real and helping women connect to their bodies, let’s start with the fact that Mula Bandha, or Yoni Bandha as Rea calls it, is different for women than for men. The Yoni canal connects to the clitoris and the entire womb. Women draw up at the base of the pelvic floor around the vagina and extending up to the mouth of the cervix. Draw in and up on the inhalation. Let go on the exhalation. Draw in strongly but not so much that you feel tension. It’s much more than a Kegel, which Rea feels is devoid of poetry and Eros. “It’s like this light that rises and illuminates the whole spine,” Rea says.

We’re all women in Rea’s Yogini Shakti class. The lights are dim. There’s freedom to experiment. Rea says one of the best poses to feel the Mula Bandha is Malasana. Try squatting with your heels in and toes out, lean your torso in between your thighs with your hands in Anjali Mudra. As you inhale, engage Mula Bandha and feel the current rise from the earth, enter the pelvic floor and “up inside the Yoni as if when making love,” Rea says. When you can’t inhale any longer, relax the squeeze on your exhale, without collapsing it entirely. You’re pulling energy up to tap into a subtle pulse, like the ocean tide.

Soon the room full of yoginis seems to be pulsing with new discoveries. I feel Mula Bandha’s potent source of power for the first time. After class, another woman tells Rea that she recently miscarried twins and is grateful to reconnect to her body. All it takes is practice, Rea encourages us, to let go of mechanical instructions and tap into your own beautiful and personal rhythm.

—Rebecca Tolin

Photo credit: Tony Felguieras