Mulabandha or root lock is one of the four principal bandhas or locks (jalandhara bandha, uddiyana bandha, mula bandha and maha bandha.) It is the lowest of the four locks and its physical location is in the pelvic floor area. You could also call them "core muscular engagement" methods.
Ensures good tone and circulatory stimulation of the pelvic nerves and muscles and organs of the reproductive and excretory systems. Helps prevent and can reverse prolapse of the uterus, bladder or rectum. Stabilizes the lumbo-pelvic spine. Counters any experience of "pinching" in the low back when doing backbends. Raises sexual energy and increases libido, along with svadishthana chakra practices.
Raises the energy generally, enhances mental clarity and lucidity, may relieve depression. Assists in "grounding" us and calming the nervous system when feeling "wired."
Subtle Body Benefits
Helps to redirect pranic energies, specifically the normally downward coursing prana called apana vayu, back upwards into sushumna, the central channel. The locks serve to do just that - "lock" prana into sushumna. This can lead to a spontaneous form of breath retention called kevala kumbhaka - one of the goal of pranayama and bandha practice.
Can be the cause of an expanded awareness of others and how to contribute to their happiness and wellbeing which results in more bliss for you. This particular effect is intentionally driven. When we raise our energetic awareness from the lower energy centres to the higher ones, there is a spontaneous expansion of consciousness. But if we are aware of this process and use it to create a change in our lives or our world through our intention, then we are using the concepts of karma and emptiness to manifest and actualize these changes.
Mulabandha and the other bandhas and their exact locations must be taught directly by a live teacher - they cannot be learned from an article or a book.
As a preparatory practice, though, begin by lying comfortably on the floor on a carpet or yoga mat, and breathe deeply through the nostrils.
Allow the exhalation to become longer and longer, until the inhalation becomes reflexive - as though the air were breathing you rather than you having to take a breath.
As the inhalation happens, feel it expanding and filling your lungs - ribcage will expand out to the sides, front and back, and finally upwards.
Begin to direct the exhalation consciously out through the nostrils and the inhalation in through the pelvic floor - the vaginal canal for women, and the spot midway between the testicles and the anus for men.
Continue to breathe in this way for several minutes.
Now exhale through the pelvic floor as well as allowing the breath to be drawn back in through the pelvic floor. Continue for several minutes before bringing this preparatory practice to a close.
Completely relax the perineum and abdominal area by breathing deeply into the belly and releasing all tension and contraction in these areas. Do some gratitude or loving kindness meditation to redistribute and balance the prana.
Tips from Deep Retreat
Always check with your teacher before beginning this or any other yogic practice. While seemingly benign and simple, these techniques and methods can be extremely powerful and resultant shifts in energy can have devastating results.
Working with the lower bandhas generally raises sexual energy. This energy can be used in spiritual practice as a "divine fire" which we visualize rising up in our central channel, but only if we do this correctly.
We noticed an increased potential for throwing our subtle body energy out of balance - overly powerful lower energies which we hadn't balanced with our higher energies.
These energies, which are harnessed and directed by mulabandha, must always be balanced with the simultaneous harnessing and directing of bandhas higher up in the body, specifically ajna chakra, before engaging in ongoing mulabhanda practices. This play of potent and forceful pranas must be awakened gradually.
As muladhara chakra becomes energized and awakened, you may notice that your sense of smell becomes intensified. You can enjoy this side effect by rejoicing in all the various scents and fragrances of your surroundings - as you have never smelled them before!
Never attempt this practice without the direct guidance of a qualified yoga teacher who has been trained in the techniques and philosophies of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Yoga Sutras of Master Patanjali. There is a potential for the pranic energy to go out of balance if the lower energies are raised too quickly and drastically.