I don’t know if anyone reads this. No matter. Keep going.
This is a guide that outlines the practice of restraints as bandhas
Sit in a cross legged position on a cushion on the floor. Get as comfortable as possible with the spine inviting itself to lengthen like a snake being charmed upwards by the sound, or song, of the breath. Then just sit for a few minutes. If you can’t sit on the floor, sit in a chair. If you want to, lie down, but make sure your spine feels as fluid as possible, and this is more difficult on the ground. Rest your awareness now, and again, now, here. What is happening right now, right here? Keep coming back to this.
Yoga is fundamentally about self control. This is not controlling by exercising the will, though, in my (non dual) view. It’s control by taking a step back in your conscious awareness that you are here, now, with the flow of cause and effect happening in and around you without any way to control what is going on. Instead of focussing on the exercise of your will, which is an illusion, I invite you to exercise your capacity to realise, to become aware of yourself. This capacity gives you a way to develop, or elicit an attitude. What is the most profoundly rational attitude to have to an awareness that you are caught in a web of cause and effect? To the realisation that you, that none of us, that no system, does anything but react, react, react, in waves and waves of cause and effect? Is it hatred, blame or judgement? No. It is compassion. See if you can feel compassion arise now.
Pause. Keep coming back to the sound of your breath in your throat, the sounds around and within you, the sensations, your spine in its dance with awareness.
Now feel the urge to squeeze and lift mula bandha. Mula bandha is the base lock, or restraint, at the pelvic floor. Crudely put, you squeeze like you are stopping yourself all your organs of elimination, front and back, and you do this at the end of every exhalation. If you’re more used to mula bandha, you’ll know it’s more subtle, more in between the front and back organs, that you focus your awareness. Exhale and hold. This is a kind of stepping back. Are you controlling what is happening? No, this too is cause and effect, the chance happening of you listening to this, as a result of a previous happening, and a previous happening. Only now you can be aware of it. If you were sitting, you can now lie back with knees bent. Practice setu bandha. You push the lower back down towards the floor and squeeze in and up… if it’s uncomfortable to tuck the tail bone under and flatten the lumbar onto the floor, leave the spine where it is and just squeeze. Restraint is a retraining of the mind to step back to its original job of watching, of awareness.
Now straighten the legs and bring one knee at a time into the chest, straighten one leg at a time up towards the ceiling. Again have an awareness of your attention, how quickly you can come back to awareness without judging any inattention, so you are restraining even your judgement. Bend knees, take them side to side. Wind screen wipers. Clearing the illusion of control. Even my words are not my own, but created as a result of earlier events. Let the breath out as you let the knees drop. Keep the awareness really refined, really subtle, and notice what works. Where do you need to rest? If there’s pain, do you need to respond? Can awareness allow a kinder response to arise? Less movement?
Now roll over and come onto all fours, step one foot into a lunge, then forwards into a forward bend. Bring chin towards chest. Jalandara bandha, the throat lock. Restrains the breath. Look forwards in a half fold, getting the spine as flat as possible, then see if you can experience uddiyana bandha, the diaphram lock. Exhale and pull the belly in and up as though you were inhaling but without letting air in. This may not work for you if you have high BP (I do and it works for me). Three times here. Then stand up. Spine long. Extend arms and sway side to side. Once or twice is plenty. Gently. Mula bandha engaged. Chin down at end of exhale. Belly lifting at end of exhale. Now step back lunge on the left, back to all fours, cross ankles if flexible, otherwise just sit one side and swing legs around and come to a cross legged position. Remember you can also do this in a chair. The three locks. Inhale where you are and exhale squeeze base, centre and chin to chest. Inhale and repeat, with the affirmation I restrain from illusion and invite love to do what needs to be done through me, love at the base, the centre, in the spirit. My spirit is my attitude. Love be my ground, my rhythm, my attitude. Let love do what needs to be done.