I had a very interesting experience during practice this morning. I was in Prasarita Padottanasana D, breathing, grabbing my toes, and doing my best to engage my bandhas. I could feel my bandhas engaging, and the area around the anus and perineum felt very sensitive and charged full of energy. And then it occurred to me that it almost feels like the breath is coming into the body not through my nose, but through my anus! Or at least through the perineal area around the anus.
I can't help feeling that this sensation of inhaling through the anus has a lot to do with the engagement of mula bandha. Of course, this is not expert opinion or anything even close to it; I don't know if visualizing the bandhas in this way--as involving an imaginary inhalation through the anus--is even "correct method". But when it comes to practice, I have always been very into how things feel "from the inside", so to speak. Especially when we are trying to approach something as subtle as mula bandha. I wonder if an explanation like this would be helpful to somebody who is new to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga? (For a list of some other ways of explaining mula bandha that I have encountered over the years, see this post.) Or would it be more confusing than anything else?
At any rate, I can't imagine that such an explanation would be very elegant in a typical yoga class. Picture this: In a serene yoga class in a fancy-looking yoga studio in some nice neighborhood of some nice city. A Lululemon-pants-clad yoga teacher is standing at the front of the class, the rest of the class bent over in Prasarita Padottanasana D. In her soft, soothing "yoga teacher voice", she murmurs, "Now engage and gently rotate your inner thighs inwards. Spread your butt cheeks wide and generous, bring awareness and energy to your anus and perineum. Now inhale through your perineum. And then exhale..." (Students: "What did she just say?! Inhale through the what?!") Meanwhile, in some corner of the room, some student who has too much gas in his belly takes the "exhale" part too seriously, and lets forth a mighty fart, shattering the serene atmosphere of the classroom with the thunder issuing forth from his bowels.
Well, I'm probably going into too much graphic detail here (should have issued a disclaimer at the beginning of this post. My apologies...). But I'm guessing you can see how this explanation probably might not work in a standard studio environment. But nevertheless, I still find it very compelling, this image of breathing in through the anus. What do you think of this way of explaining and visualizing mula bandha? Is it "correct method"?