Bandhas (The Interior Body Locks)
In Sanskrit the meaning of Bandha is ‘to lock or to stop’. In Bandha practices, the breath is locked in a particular area of the body. The body is tightened to retain the energy in that part for some time. This locking of life force has a lot of beneficial effects. There are three bandhas – Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Jhalandara Bandha. These locks are used in various pranayama and asana practices to tone, cleanse and energize the interior body and organs. When all three bandhas are activated at the same time, it is called Maha Bandha, the great lock. Mula Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha can be performed after the inhalation as well as after the exhalation. Uddiyana Bandha and Maha Bandha are only performed after the exhalation.
Sit in any comfortable pose like Vajrasana or Padmasana. Place palms on knees. Keep the neck and the spine straight. Close the eyes, and relax the whole body. Inhale deeply, filling your lungs. Retain and hold your breath inside. Now keeping your back straight and bend your head forward so that the chin touches the notch between the collar bones. Keep the chin tightly pressed to create the lock. Straighten the arms, hunch the shoulders upwards and forwards, so that the arms too are tightened. Hold the lock for as long as you are comfortable. Feel the pressure of air, and the blood flow in your chest. Then relax the shoulders, bend the arms, release the chin lock, slowly raise the head and exhale. This is one round. Repeat when the respiration has returned to normal. This practice may be repeated up to 5 times.
It is one of the best exercises to get rid of double chin. Jalandhara Bandha is beneficial for the thyroid gland and the parathyroid gland. Blood circulation in the throat and adjacent region is increased. People with throat problems can apply this bandha for treatment. With this pose you stimulate the Vishuddhi Chakra, which will help you to express your feelings and emotions.
This posture can be performed while sitting or standing. Take a deep breath. Exhale completely until no air is left in your lungs and belly. In both, the standing and sitting position you should place your hands on your knees and lean forward during exhalation which will help you to press all air out.
After exhalation, hold your breath and contract your belly muscles so that your navel is pulled further inside and up, towards your middle back.
Stay in that position until you feel like inhaling. For coming out of the yoga pose relax your belly muscles and straighten your body with inhalation. There are a few important points to remember when beginning the practice of Uddiyana Bandha: perform it only on an empty stomach, and only after an exhalation, never before an inhalation. While doing Uddiyana Bandha always keep your chin down touching the chest but in the case of having cervical problem the gap of one fist should remain. Don’t do this Bandha if you have a hernia or serious heart or abdominal problems. Please take care not to overwork or cross your limits. It could make you dizzy and you even lead to fainting, if you don’t listen to your body.
Uddiyana bandha tones, massages and cleans the abdominal organs and the adrenal glands are balanced by the abdominal contraction. Uddiyana Bandha is used to increase and strengthen the blood flow in the brain and to regulate the blood circulation in your abdomen. A regular practice can relieve problems with high blood pressure and the heart in general. Another area that greatly benefits from the practice of this yoga pose is the sexual organs of both men and women. You can practice Uddiyana Bandha for many kinds of sexual problems and dysfunctions. It also tones the abdomen area so it is an easy solution for those who want to reduce their waist size.
Sit in any comfortable pose. Keep the palms on the knees and slightly press them. Gently close the eyes and relax the whole body, by watching the natural breath for a while. Now inhale deeply, filling your lungs. Hold your breath and contract muscles of the perineum/cervix area by drawing them upwards. Hold the lock for as long as comfortable. Feel the tightening of your muscles. Release contraction and exhale slowly. Repeat this bandha 10 to 15 times.
It helps in managing problems of sexual organs, constipation and piles. It tones the pelvic area. Mula bandha also increases your energy and vitality, and improves concentration and mental clarity. Using Mula bandha to support the asana from your core body allows the distal muscles to relax, enabling the body to use less energy to hold the posture.
Sit in any comfortable pose. Keep the palms on the knees and slightly press them. Gently close the eyes and relax the whole body by watching the natural breath for a while. Now exhale completely through the mouth. Retain the breath outside. Perform Jalandhara, Uddiyana, and Mula Bandha – in this order. Hold the Bandhas and the breath as long as is comfortable, without straining. Then release Mula, Uddiyana, and Jalandhara Bandha – in this order. After coming back, inhale slowly. This is one round. Relax and let the breath return to normal before practicing the next round. Make 3-5 rounds.
Maha Bandha gives the benefits of all three Bandhas. It affects the hormonal secretions of all the glands and regulates the entire endocrine system. It is also beneficial for the autonomic nervous system, internal organs and muscles.