Bandha and the Abdominopelvis

In Yoga, it is easy to get totally focused on the musculoskeletal system. But there is no getting around the guts when you are trying to understand the anatomy of bandha. The innards and their linings form a system powered in concert by the shape of connective tissues down to their molecular level, the respiratory diaphragm and its associated connections, even the hip flexors. The advancing yogi learns to use this interplay consciously to create lightness.


Serous membranes play a part in the maintenance of intra-abdominal pressure, and contribute to bandha. The internal organs also give shape and quality to the connective tissue matrix, and form a crucial aspect of anatomy that all yoga practitioners can appreciate. This areat is at the heart of the curriculum for my weekend on The Abdominopelvis, on My Schedule every year in April.

The ventral cavities are lined, defined, lubricated, nourished, and protected by these sheets of CT that give greater purpose to the leverage of bones and muscles. Here is a view of the omentum in situ. The omentum is made up of the greater omentum which is an important storage facility for fat deposits, and the lesser omentum which connects the stomach and intestines to the liver.

The greater omentum, Latin for “apron,” is a membranous double fold of fatty tissue continuous with the peritoneum. Being a double fold, it is composed of four layers – two anterior and two posterior. The anterior two layers are attached to the lower border of the stomach and to the first 2 cm of the duodenum, where they are continuous with the visceral peritoneum of these organs.

From this attachment, they descend to the lower part of the abdomen and then fold back upon themselves to become the posterior two layers. The posterior two layers ascend to be attached to the lower margin of the transverse colon, which they enclose as visceral peritoneum, and are then continuous with the two layers of the transverse mesocolon. Milky spots on the greater omentum contain white blood cells that assist immunity by removing cellular debris.

Further iterations of the peritoneum include the mesenteries, simultaneously providing an anchoring system as well as a line in for blood and lymphatic supply for the intestines. Here is a chalk drawing I made of the mesentery in dissection lab, showing the distribution of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) as it branches off the aorta to supply blood to the intestines:

In the 2nd Anatomy Weekend, The Abdominopelvis, we will explore the peritoneal cavity and how the linings contribute to force distribution throughout the ECM… and how we can better understand and maximise our bandhas.

I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the guts as we use temporary tattoos to guide our body painting process and work out where all this stuff actually goes!! The abdominal viscera, including their membranous coverings that form the ligamentous structures attaching them to each other and tethering them to the deep surfaces of the body wall, are particularly challenging to learn about without cadaveric dissection.

It is much easier to teach musculo-skeletal concepts because we can feel instant cause-and-effect relationships in our own bodies and the surface landmarks are readily available for all of us to see for ourselves without the need of a scalpel! For this reason, I will be using the Visible Body application to provide my students with a guided tour of the abdominopelvic viscera, and reinforcing concepts in the body painting session with the help of this temporary tattoos.


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