In this lesson we have given a long discussion on Ida and pingala, which should clearly indicate the importance of these two polarities of being. On a physical-pranic-mental level, balance can be greatly influenced by practices of pranayama, specifically nadi shodhana pranayama stages 1 and 2′. These are preliminary stages, but they are nevertheless important techniques for ensuring balance between ida and pingala. If you have the time, and only if you do, we suggest that you practise these two stages before the more advanced stages of pranayama and meditative practices such as ajapa. This will help you to gain the most out of these practices, if the flow in the two nostrils is balanced however, it is not necessary to practise these balancing techniques.
Maha Bandha (The Great Lock)
Uddiyana bandha combined with jalandhara, as previously described, and moola bandha is called maha bandha. The method is as follows:
Practise uddiyana bandha combined with jalandhara bandha.
Then contract the perineum as described in the practice of moola bandha.
This is the final position.
Retain your breath for as long as comfortable.
Then release moola bandha, uddiyana and finally jalandhara bandha.
This is 1 round.
Maha Bandha Combined With Nadi Shodhana
If you have mastered the previous pranayama technique, then you can now incorporate it with maha bandha4. The method is exactly the same, but instead of doing uddiyana and jalandhara bandha, you now do maha bandha, with external breath retention (bahir kumbhaka).
The previous ratio was 1:8:6:2:1:8:6:2 for inhalation: inner retention: exhalation: outer retention: inhalation: inner retention: exhalation: outer retention. Maha bandha is performed during outer retention only. If you can comfortably perform the bandha with this ratio then do so, but it must be without any strain. If necessary adjust the ratio according to your own capacity. Experiment, find out the ideal ratio and practise it.
Relevance to kriya yoga
Maha bandha is directly utilized in kriya yoga practices; therefore, mastery is essential. We urge you to practise it regularly, but without straining. This will be a valuable preparation for kriya yoga in Book III.