Monday, 13 June 2011

Tatakamudra ( pond gesture ) here for bandha focus and deepening forward bend.

I came upon this idea by accident. Tatakamudra, charmingly translated as pond gesture, comes up in the Supine sequence in Ramaswami / Krishnamacharya's Vinyasa Krama.

The other week, while practicing Primary series I was trying to settle into paschimottanasana but was feeling a little stiff. I laid back on the mat for a moment and figured while I was there I'd get my bandhas warmed up, better to engage them in the forward bend ( I tend to spend five to ten minutes in paschimottanasana, Vinyasa Krama style). So I raised my arms over my head for tatakamudra stretched and at the end of my exhale stopped the breath and drew up and back mula bandha, connected it to uddiyana, drawing my abdominal muscles inward and backward and bringing the small of my back onto the mat. A few long slow breaths and I went back to paschimottanasana, low and behold, the stiffness was gone and paschi felt comfortable enough for a long deep stay.

It's that cavity below the ribcage that's formed which supposedly resembles a pond, or lake according to M. on account of my weird ribcage. Ramaswami counts tatakamudra as one of the best postures for introducing the bandhas, along with ardho mukkha Svanasana, downward facing dog.

In Yoga beneath the surface, David Hurwitz asks Ramaswami,

'David: What is the purpose of bandhas in asana? Is it just to practice and perfect them for pranayama? or do they have a function in asana practice?
Ramaswami : Among other things, bandhas (locks), especially mula bandha (rectal lock), help to pull up the pelvic floor and also to pukk the pelvis off the hip joint. Uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock) helps stretch the lumbar spine and Jalandhara bandha ( chin lock) helps to stretch the whole spine, especially the thoracic spine.
     Of course there are several other advantages, but purely looking from the point of view of asanas, the bandhas help to perfect the posture'.
p71 Yoga beneath the surface ( Bandhas in Asana section )

Tatakamudra engages all three bandhas, but it is perhaps the engagement of uddiyana,  you can really go to town on it in this posture, and the stretching the lumbar spine that explains why I found it so good for releaving the stiffness I felt in my back and allowing a deeper and more comfortable paschimottanasana, (forward bend).

I now tend to slip into tatakamudra for a few breaths after backbending and before paschimottanasana as standard.

Here are Ramaswami's instructions for Tatakmudra 

'Stay in the lying-down position for one or two breaths. Exhale completely. Anchor your heels, tailbone, arms and back; press down through your palms and draw in the rectum; pull the lower abdomen in and toward your back. Hold the locks for five to ten seconds. Your chin should be kept locked as well. When you draw the rectal and abdominal muscles inward and backward, the marks of the ribs and the pelvis bordering the abdominal cavity will be apparent. because this resembles a pond, it is called pond gesture, or tatakamudra
   These are actually the three locks in the lying-down posture. They are a very good way to start the practice of the bandhas. Inhale, and relax the locks. Repeat this exercise three to six times.'
The Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga p105. Srivatsa Ramaswami

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