The Word Bandha means to hold, tighten or bind. These locks have an effect on the flow of prana where various muscles are contracted and controlled in the physical body that retain the circulation of prana in the subtle body.
Jala means a net, a web, a lattice or a mesh. This lock releases energy blocked within the upper chest. It creates space in the upper spine and aids in releasing tension which builds up as a result of mental activity.
1. Sit in an upright position with the palms of your hands resting on your knees.
2. Inhales deeply and hold your breathe.
3. Bend your head forward and draw your chin to your chest as you contract the throat.
Jalandhara bandha regulates the flow of blood and prana to the heart, the glands in the neck and the head, together with the brain.
If pranayama is not practiced with Jalandhara Bandha, then pressure is felt on the heart, behind the eyes and inside the ear cavity, resulting in light headedness or dizziness.
The Diaphram Lock (Uddiyana Bandha)
This lock stimulates the solar plexus chakra (Manipura). As this is the distribution center for prana throughout the body, this lock improves the flow of prana throughout the body. A gentle Uddiyana Bandha engagement provides powerful structural support for the abdomen, waist and low back. 1. Sit upright with your hands on your knees, palms facing down.
2. Exhale deeply, emptying your abdomen and chest.
3. Lift your diaphragm, pulling the organs of the upper abdomen up and back towards the spine. (Imagine the feeling of taking in breathe (Inhaling), but without the actual inhale.
4. Lock the posture and hold while it is comfortable. Release and inhale.
Uddiyana means flying up. The process of this lock is to lift the diaphragm high up into the thorax and to pull the abdominal organs against the back towards the spine. It is said that through this lock, the great bird of prana is forced to fly upward through susumna (the main channel for energy flow inside the spinal column)
It is important to note that this should only be performed at the end of an exhale when breathing is suspended. The cavity created by the lift of the diaphragm gives a gentle massage to the muscles of heart, thereby toning it. This lock exercises the diaphragm and abdominal organs.
* Never attempt this bind on an inhale or at the end of an inhalation: This will put strain on the heart, diaphragm and eyes.
The Root Lock (Mulabandha)
This is the most complex of the locks. It has a powerful effect on the energies at the base of the spine . If the body is viewed as a container with energy both entering and leaving, then the amount of energy can be increased by closing the bottom of the container through Mulabandha. This bandha strengthens the abdominal floor, providing support for the reproductive organs.
1. Sit up straight with hands facing down on your knees.
2. Inhale deeply. Contract the muscles at your perineum and draw them upwards.
3. Draw the lower abdomen towards the spine.
4. Hold the lock while comfortable. Release and exhale.
Mula means root, source, origin or foundation. Mula bandha is the region between the anus and genitalia. By contracting this region, Apana Vayu (the prana in the lower abdomen which moves downward), is made to flow in an upward direction to unite with Prana Vayu (the prana in the region of the chest, which moves upward)
First attempt this lock after inhalation, where the entire region of the lower abdomen (between the naval and the anus) is contracted toward the spine and drawn up toward the diaphragm.
*Note: Uddiyana Bandha is the upper abdomen lifting up and the Mulabandha is the lower abdomen lifting up.
The practice of contracting Asvini Mudra (in the diagram above it is spelled Ashwini), helps one to master Mulabandha.