Pissed at YJ, More moola bandha, Cowbell vs. Continental

Wow, what a practice this morning. One of those ones where I kept thinking of things I should do and things I should write down and things that I should think about. Yikes. It really wasn’t until bhujapidasana that I kind of settled down.

You know, we always tend to think of practice as a kind of ideal situation, where you have a long string of Yoga Journal moments, but how often is that really the case? I consider myself very lucky because I get a good number of blissful practices. But the bumpy ones, the ones where I have pains or am just dragging my sad ass through the sequence, well, those are the practice, too. And not just a sketchy part of the practice. Nope, those moments are as legit as the spectacular moments. I think the “yoga industry” has done us a disservice by taking pictures of people always at the top of their form. YJ makes it look like some people have 100% perfect practices and the rest of us are either losers, or people who just need a little more practice in order to have a 100% perfect practice. As if you can crack some barrier and then always be perfect. In the end, though, I think it’s more like a batting average. I’d love to ask Richard Freeman or Tim Miller what they figure their lifetime blissful, easy practice average is.

Okay, so forget the nice clothes and the pristine space and the new mat. Get your shoddily-clothed (or underpants-wearing) sluggish butt on the floor of your dust-bunny ravaged home (or shala) and set to it. THAT’S what practice is.


As Christopher Walken wants more cowbell!, so yogis want more moola bandha.

The mind is illuminated in stages as the kundalini rises through the spinal cord, piercing the chakras. it does not actually travel through each chakra one by one, but ascends the sushumna to the brain and sahasrara chakra where all the chakras are situated. It actually works on them at a psychophysiological level, that is, on brain and mind simultaneously.

The scriptures indicate that in order for kundalini to achieve its final upward movement to sahasrara it must first pierce through three major granthis (psychic knots). These are brahma granthi, vishnu granthi and rudra granthi, situated in mooladhara, anahata and ajna chakras respectively. Each granthi represents a particular state of consciousness, or attachment, which acts as an obstacle on the path to higher awareness.

1. Brahma granthi, situated in mooladhara chakra, symbolizes attachment to possessions — body, material objects, etc. It is associated with feelings of lethargy and ignorance, and minfests as severe limitations in the ability to act.

2. Vishnu granthi, situated in anahata chakra, symbolizes attachment to people inclusing relatives and friends.

3. Rudra granthi, situated in ajna chakra, symbolizes attachment to psychic visions and powers (siddhis).

Kundalini cannot begin or continue to rise until the granthis are pierced or, in other words, attachment is broken.

The scriptures go on to state that by the practice of the three bandhas (moola, uddiyana and jalandara) the sixteen adharas are closed. Adhara means ‘a support, a vital part.’ The sixteen vital parts are the thumbs, ankles, knees, thighs, prepuce, organs of generation, navel, heart, neck, throat, palate, nose, the middle of the eyebrows, forehead, head and brahmarandhra (the aperture in the crown of the head through which the soul is said to leave the body at death). When the sixteen adharas are closed, the consciousness becomes completely introverted with no means of escape, and meditation spontaneously takes place. This moola bandha helps us to gain deeper internal meditative states. It also pierces brahma granthi, liberating us from attachment and taking us inward.

Through the practice of moola bandha the yogi attempts to reach the source or ‘moola’ of all creation. His goal is the complete restraint (bandha) of the patterns of consciousness (chitta) which include mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and the ego (ahamkara). Through controlled restraint, he achieves union with the universal flow.


The “more cowbell” reference reminds me of my favorite Christopher Walken SNL skit: The Continental. It seems like everyone is familiar with “More Cowbell!,” but few have seen “The Continental.” So check it out here.


13 Responses

  1. i have NO idea what the cowbell thing is. should i?
    and i love that you have written about the crappy practices because i have been struggling with this for the last few weeks. and just today came to terms with being in a place of struggling practices. so your words were really an reinforcement that this is OK.
    the earplugs were VERY nice. what would have been nicer is if my kids would have entertained themselves for 1 1/2 hours but the earplugs certainly helped 🙂

  2. Here’s the cowbell skit. I love Christopher Walken!


    Yeah, the tough practices. Hey, they happen. Think how delightful it will be when the next blissful one rolls around!

  3. Yeah, the tough practices… tell me about it.;) Here is the most recent and priceless teaching from my Guru.

    ElSeeDoor: Zee, you did not do sitting-ass melting-ice meditation for three days in a row. What does that mean?

    me: My honorable teacher ElSeeDoor, my kundalini just awakened… it moves upwards violently…

    ElSeeDoor: Zee, you always find the answer for non practicing.

    me: But it is true.

    ElSeeDoor: No, not yet. When your kundalini awakes, I will tell you to turn around and to place your head on the ice. Yes, you will use your head then, instead using your ass now.

    All Prise to my Guru ElSeeDoor.

  4. Another coincidence. It had been years since the YJ pissed me off.

    But oh my, the falseness.

    Back to the vishnu granthi for me.

  5. yes, they should write more about the “oh-gawd-I-hope-he-doesn’t-adjust-me-again-because-I-had-too-much-eclair-last-night-and-I-might-explode” practices 🙂

    (a sad but true story)

  6. Haha! Let’s submit those kinds of articles & see if we can get some published. “Avoiding Huge Belches at Marichyasana C,” “What To Do When Your Teacher’s Feet Smell,” “Meditation: Okay to Fart If It Doesn’t Make a Sound?”

    As always, it’s so nice to have you guys around. 🙂

  7. is there such a thing as too much eclair?

  8. hi donutzenmom!
    de-lurking week is almost up and i wouldn’t want to miss it 🙂

    thank you so much for this post! i had the crappiest practice just this morning–unfocused, painful, frustrating and almost bursting to tears–but i’m still grateful. and you put it into words so eloquently, as always. glad you haven’t gone private cuz i would so miss “the tone of your voice”.

  9. Anyone who can link more cowbell and more mula bandha is excellent in my book. Come to my blog to claim your award:

  10. Chitta Vritti, so nice to hear from you, and you say such lovely things. Hey, wait a minute — I’m supposed to be restraining you, aren’t I? LOL! Seriously, though, thanks for de-lurking. I’ve so enjoyed hearing from people this week!

    And Yogamum! An award? Thanks! Uh oh, more chitta vrittis arising! You know, though, if it’s about the cowbell and moola bandha, how can I refuse?? 🙂

  11. The Continental–there IS someone else who remembers that! Karen, you officially get props for remembering Walken’s brilliant bit as the Continental….

    “but wait!…the chahm-PAHG-nuh!!”

    We need a link now to “Weapon of Choice”…

  12. LOL! Patrick, I always think of that bit when people talk about CW. I’m so happy someone else knows about it! It was on SNL in 1992. I figured the yoga crowd was too young to have seen it.

  13. Hah! I was legal to vote and drink booze in 1992 🙂 No yoga practice for another 12 years, though.

    My guess is that CW’s most famous bit, for the younger gang, is probably that Gold Watch story from Pulp Fiction.

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