Is a one of a series of articles on bandhas that I am currently compiling for our 300 hour teacher training course. These bandhas also include Hari Bandha, Nabhi Bandha, Hasta Bandha and Pada Bandha, which are not usually spoken of much in hatha yoga classes, or for that matter any type of yoga class. Swadhi Bandha is located in the pelvic area, above the pelvic floor and below the navel, and as the name suggests, at the Swadhistana chakra area. Activating Swadhi Bandha will release the SI joint, and generally help keep the pelvic bones supple.
The pelvic skeleton is made up posteriorly (rear of the back) of the sacrum and coccyx, and laterally (sides) and anteriorly (forward) by a pair of hip bones (ilium) The hip bones are made up of three sections, the ilium, ischium, and the pubis. The pelvic cavity is the area bound by the bones of the pelvis. The hip joint is made up of the top of the leg bone (femur) attached to the pelvis (ilium) via the femoral head at the acetabulum (hip socket)
The application of Swadhi bandha is essential for full flexions at the hip joint (forward bends) A correctly applied forward bend will leave the pelvis in a neutral position, and the spine will retain its natural curves. If the pelvis is not in its neutral position, the back rounds and all we end up achieving is a rounded back.
I will describe the application of Swadhi bandha as a circular swivelling action of the two posterior Superior Iliac Spines, making an outward and off the sacrum movement. The sit bones (ischial tuberosity) move away from each other, and the anterior superior iliac crests travel in towards each other anteriorly. The two iliac crests do not so much move directly towards each other, as open out laterally and curve inward towards the front.
This action allows us to drop the trunk, belly first between the legs, with a straight back and the pelvis staying in neutral. As with Upavishta konasana. Asanas that encourage this action are Garudasana (Eagle pose) and Ardha matsayandrasana (half lord of the fishes pose)
Being conscious of the action that works Swadhi bandha, along with applying the other less talked about bandhas in this series will inevitably bring about a lighter and more graceful practise. It will make us more aware of the bandhas from a subtler view point.
When at first we begin to work with bandhas, such as mula bandha, it can be a very gross action. We tend to clench the pelvic floor as a whole, but as we go deeper we gain a more sophisticated approach to the bandhas, and with it a more sophisticated practise.