Anatomy Of Hatha Yoga

genitals and the urethra. Therefore, to understand mula bandha we hi e to examine the anatomical disposition of these muscles.

the muscles of the urogenital triangle

Looking at a superficial dissection, we see that three pairs of muscles ovc ie the genitals. In both male (fig. 3.28) and female (fig. 3.29), the superfi 2I

transverse perineal muscles course laterally in the shared border of ie urogenital and anal triangles, extending laterally from a heavy bam of centrally located connective tissue—the central tendon of the perineum iu the ischial tuberosities. The hulhospongiosus muscles in the male enci Ie the base of the penis; in the female those same muscles encircle the vaj. ia and urethra. The ischiocavernosus muscles in both the male and femali ie superficial to the erectile tissues of the corpora cavernosa, which tl 1 n-

selves course from the inferior pubic rami to the body of the penis in tie male and to the clitoris in the female. In a slightly deeper plane of ie urogenital diaphragm (in both male and female), the deep transi se perineal muscles spread out laterally in sheets that attach to the inii or pubic rami, and the urethral sphincters encircle the urethrae.

mula banoha, the root lock

Unlike ashwini mudra, which is often a response to sharp and sue en increases in abdominopelvic pressure, mula bandha (the root lock a gentle contraction of the pelvic diaphragm and the muscles of the urogei al triangle. It does not counter intra-abdominal pressure so much as it ds urogenital energy within the body, controlling and restraining it du ng breathing exercises and meditation (again, this is a literary rather th, 1 a scientific use of the term "energy"). What actually happens is more c. ily sensed than described, so we'll begin with a series of exercises.

First try sitting in a hard chair covered with a thin cushion. In a nei al position, neither perfectly upright or slumped, try to blow out but. witl *ut letting any air escape. Try hard. Notice that the pelvic region contracts id lifts up involuntarily enough to counter the downward push from the c st and abdominal wall. Now try the mock blowing maneuver again, but lis time keep the pelvic region relaxed, and notice that it feels like straii ng for a bowel movement. Tiy it one last time, but this time lift the er ire anatomical perineum consciously, and you will quickly sense that tl se efforts bring both the pelvic diaphragm and the muscles of the uroger al region into play.

Next sit really straight, arching the lower back forward. Exhale, press 'fi in with the abdominal muscles, and notice that it is natural to find a fo< -is for your attention at a point between the anus and genitals. You may sei & a slight tension in the muscles ol the genitals, but little or none in the an s.

f ABIXMIlNOPEll IC EXERCISES l8s and certainly none in the gluteal muscles. This describes the root lock. You don't have to make extreme efforts. The cushion on which you are sitting places enough pressure on the muscles of the urogenital triangle to focus your awareness on the lock.

Now try' the same exercise in a slumped posture with the back rounded to the rear. This changes everything. It shifts your attention from the front of the anatomical perineum to the rear, and it elicits a mild ashwini mudra instead of mula bandha because you are tipping backward toward the plane of the anal triangle and away from the plane of the urogenital triangle.

'Sure 3.28. Male anatomical perineum. The anal portion of the pelvic ldPhragm is shown below (in the anal triangle). The external genitals and their associated muscles are shown above (in the urogenital triangle), where they are "Perimposed over (and thus hide) the front portion of the pelvic diaphragm "rr>m Sappey).

corpus spongiosum of penis (with male urethra)

glans penis

Bulbospongiosus Muscle Exercise

internal anal sphincter pelvic diaphragm, rear portion, left side left side of scrotum with left testis bulbospongiosus muscle (left side)

ischiocavemosus muscle (left side)

central tendon of penneum superficial transverse perineal muscle (left)

external anal sphincter

"9ht ischial tuberosity anus tip of coccyx left gluteus maximus muscle internal anal sphincter pelvic diaphragm, rear portion, left side

"9ht ischial tuberosity anus tip of coccyx left gluteus maximus muscle corpus spongiosum of penis (with male urethra)

right corpus cavernosum of penis glans penis left side of scrotum with left testis bulbospongiosus muscle (left side)

ischiocavemosus muscle (left side)

central tendon of penneum superficial transverse perineal muscle (left)

external anal sphincter

186 ANATOMY OH HATHA > OG A

(The angle between these two planes is shown clearly in fig. 3.4). Sitt g straight rocks you up and forward so that contact with the cushion fa\ rS the root lock. The lesson: sit straight if you wish to apply mula bandlu.

If this is still confusing, it will be helpful to first experience a gross vers »n of the root lock. The best concentration exercise for this is to sit upn tit and try breathing in concert with slowly increasing and decreasing tens ^n in the perineum. With the beginning of exhalation gradually tighten ie muscles of the pelvic diaphragm and genitals, aiming for maxin m contraction at the end of exhalation. As inhalation begins, slowly n

Repeat the cycle for ten breaths several times a day. At first it ma\ oe difficult to tighten the muscles without also tightening the gluteal must -s, clitoris female urethral orifice right ischial tuberosity

Muscle Clitoris

superficial transv rse perineal muscle central tern n of the penr im external anal sphii ter pelvic diaphragr rear portion, left d®

ischiocavern js muscle, lefi 9

vaginal op' >ng bulbospongi js muscle, left • 3

anus tip of coccyx figure 3.29. Female anatomical perineum. The anal portion of the pelvic diaphragm is shown below (in the anal triangle). The external genitals and th< r associated muscles are shown above (in the urogenital triangle), where they . <? superimposed over (and thus hide) the front portion of the pelvic diaphragm (from Morris).

clitoris female urethral orifice superficial transv rse perineal muscle central tern n of the penr im external anal sphii ter pelvic diaphragr rear portion, left d®

ischiocavern js muscle, lefi 9

right ischial tuberosity vaginal op' >ng bulbospongi js muscle, left • 3

anus tip of coccyx left gluteus maximum mu figure 3.29. Female anatomical perineum. The anal portion of the pelvic diaphragm is shown below (in the anal triangle). The external genitals and th< r associated muscles are shown above (in the urogenital triangle), where they . <? superimposed over (and thus hide) the front portion of the pelvic diaphragm (from Morris).

i. ABlXmiNOPELVtC EXERCISES 187

but if vou arc careful to sit straight it will become easy.

With practice you will be able to sense the contraction of successive layers 0f muscles from the outside in. Starting superficially and with a minimal effort, you can feel activity in the ischiocavernosus, bulbospongiosus, and superficial transverse perineal muscles. And with a little more attention you can activate the deep transverse perineal muscles and the urethral sphincter. And with yet more effort you can activate the pelvic diaphragm.

The central tendon of the perineum, which as discussed previously is located at the dividing line between the anal and urogenital triangles, appears to be the key structure around which the more delicate versions of mula bandha are organized. This is an extremely tough fascial region into which the superficial and deep transverse perineal muscles insert. If you can learn to focus your attention on this tiny region while creating minimal physical contraction of the nearby muscles, you will be feeling the root lock. (Yoga teachers who speak of placing awareness on the perineum are referring to this region.) Concentrate on the sensation, and in time mula bandha will feel natural and comfortable. With experience you can hold the lock constantly, which is what yogis recommend for meditation.

a modified cat stretch

In addition to the down-facing dog (figs. 6.17 and 8.26), which was just mentioned in the section on ashwini mudra, one of the best yoga postures for helping you come in contact with the delicacy and precision of the root lock is a modified cat pose. From a kneeling position, bring your chin to the floor, swing your elbows out, and bring the upper part of the chest as low as possible, arching your back deeply and mimicking a cat peering under a couch (fig. 3.30). Then tighten the perineal region generally. You will immediately notice that the exposed anus in this position brings the sensations toward the front of the diamond-shaped perineum rather than behind, and that even if you squeeze vigorously the gluteal muscles remain relaxed. After you have practiced this pose several times and gotten accustomed to >ts associated sensations, you can try to find the same feelings when you apply the root lock in silting postures.

?ure 3.30. Modified cat stretch, for sensing mula bandha in preference to asnwini mudra.

Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Practitioners of yoga talk about a unification of body, mind and spirit acquired through practicing the yoga exercises and techniques. Learn more within this guide.

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Responses

  • andwise
    How to exercise the Bulbospongiosus muscle?
    7 years ago
  • Beatriz
    How to hide the genitals?
    7 years ago
  • Marja
    How to relax the bulbospongiosus muscle?
    7 years ago

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