Amba Three Part Exhalation


 Three-Part Exhalation is the Beginning of the Bandhas

by Amba Stapleton  


Often in Teacher Training and my yoga classes, students ask, “Amba, when should I begin using the bandhas and when should I begin teaching the bandhas in my yoga classes.” The answer to both of these questions is actually very simple. You begin teaching the bandhas when they become relevant in your own practice through personal experience. Your personal experience generates an excitement and interest in your students as you share what you know. As to the answer to the former question, “When do I begin using the bandhas,”….. most of you are already using them to a certain degree. When you add Dirgha pranayama, or 3 part breath to your posture flow, the breath creates a natural engagement of these mystical, fantastic portals. How can it be so simple? Well check this out.


Come to your favorite sitted position on your sitzs bones. Use a pillow to get on your sitz bones if needed. The following experiment will not work unless the three segments of the torso are stacked one on top of the other in sitted tadasana.

In Dirgha Pranayama, slow down and concentrate on the 3 part Exhalation.   You will begin to notice 3 things.

1. As you begin your full exhalation from the upper chest, the relaxation that occurs in your pectoral major muscles or the upper chest muscles, begin to draw your chin down, elongating the back o f the neck. This is the natural Jalandhara Bandha.

2. As you continue this exhale, contracting your intercostals and solar plexus area, your diaphragm begins to lift up into the upper cavity of your torso. This is a relaxed Uddiyana Bandha.

3. As you continue to exhale, contracting your lower abdominals, if you hold this contraction without immediately inhaling, you will discover a natural tendency to lift the genitals, creating the mulabandha.


Follow this with a full 3 Part Inhalation. To be able to inhale requires a release of those exact muscles you just used for the exhale. So allow the bandhas to naturally release so you can take a full breath.

Practice this on your own for several repetitions to begin to develop a felt sense of what I just described above. Once the physical sensations get stronger, you will no longer have to remember anything. You simply enjoy the movement of your breathing, muscles and body as they naturally engage and disengage at the level of the bandhas.

If you continue Dirgha pranayama throughout your Vinyasa Practice or even holding of postures in stillness, each 3 Part Exhalation will engage all three bandhas, bringing you back to your core and back to alignment.


In Joy and Vibrant Health
Love, Amba



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