How to Practice Mula Bandha (Root Lock)

Learn how to use the technique of Mula Bandha to increase both the physical and mental benefits of your yoga practice…

Have you ever been in a yoga class (or watching one online) and heard the instructor say something that sounded like “apply mule bond” and wondered what the heck she was talking about? This should help clear up some of the confusion!

Mula Bandha, or root lock, is an important yogic practice that is often included in certain types of yoga classes, such as Kundalini or Ashtanga. According to,

“The Sanskrit word “Mula” refers to root, like that of a plant or tree. Like in English, root can also mean foot or base. It can also refer to the origin of a thing.

In yoga, Mula indicates the base of the torso, the perineum. It is associated with the Muladhara Chakra, the lowest energy center along the spine.

The word “Bandha” has many different meanings. But some are of those meanings are contradictory to one another. It has been translated as “fetter, block, check, obstruct, restrain, or lock.” In this way, Bandha can describe the damming of a river.

Alternatively, Bandha can also mean “bond, connect, put together, unite, combine, or join.” In this way, Bandha is described as a bridge above the river.

While practicing your Mula Bandha, you will find that both of these translations are true.”

This ancient practice involves contracting your pelvic floor and core muscles, usually for a specified period of time or number of breaths, or sometimes rhythmically. Interestingly enough, regular practice of this technique is believed to both increase stability, and create fluidity.

Strengthening these lower muscles can help to build support for the pelvic muscles and internal organs, stabilize the pelvis and spine, massage the internal organs, and facilitate movement and mobility. While grounding your physical body to the earth, it also helps to free your mind to experience enlightenment – or so the theory goes.

You can read more about the benefits of Mula Bandha here, but in the meantime, here are the basics of how to do it:

Step 1

First, develop the simple ability to contract and relax the perineal muscles. Begin seated in a meditative posture with a straight spine. Preferably, your legs will be crossed and in a seated pose.

Close your eyes and rest your body. Relax your breath and feel the sides of your rib cage expand and contract. Let this movement release tension from your upper abdomen. Breath freely and without coordinating your breath with muscle contractions.

Then squeeze the entire perineal region inward and upward. Keep your breathing as steady and smooth as possible without pausing. Press in slowly. When the contraction is complete, release slowly.

In this step, you are not trying to discriminate between individual areas. Instead, you are working to strengthen all of the muscles of the perineal region.

This will increase your overall awareness of the subtle muscles in your perineum. 

Repeat this step 25 times and become familiar with these muscles.

Step 2

Contract the muscles of the perineum and hold them comfortably. While you maintain tension, continue breathing slowly and smoothly. Begin to sense the area around the anus. Move to a central contraction at the perineal body or cervix.

Finally, examine the contraction in your urogenital area. Tighten each area as you focus on feeling these sensations. Then release the entire contraction slowly and relax.

Step 3

Now, coordinate your contractions of the entire perineum with your breath. When you inhale, contract the perineum. When you exhale, release any tension. Time your contractions so that they coincide with your breath. Any jerkiness or loss of control will gradually reduce over time.

During your practice, focus on the central region of your perineum.

Give special attention to the sensations associated with Mula Bandha. 

Repeat this step 25 times and start to identify the sensations of these regions.

Step 4

When you’re ready, focus your attention on the center of your perineum. Contract your muscles tightly with minimal involvement of the anal or urogenital areas.

The initial version of Mula Bandha will take time to accomplish. But remember that there is no hurry.

It is better to prolong the practice than to rush it. 

Step 5

Soon you will be able to hold the contraction without affecting your breath. When you can do this, the other sympathetic muscle tensions will relax too. You will be able to comfortably hold Mula Bandha for some time. It can be employed during Pranayama exercises and meditation.



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