Bandhas for Beginners

The Sanskrit word bandha means “to bond, catch hold of or lock.” There are 3 primary bandhas: 1) jalandhara bandha, 2) uddiyana bandha, and 3) mula bandha. These bandhas, or locks, are created by contracting specific parts of the body to seal in the vital energy (prana) of the breath. The bandhas form the core strength of the body and are engaged throughout the practice to provide internal support.

Mula Bandha (“root, cause or source”)

The mula bandha is located at the perineal muscle, the area between the genitals and the anus. For women, the mula bandha region goes deeper to include the cervix.

To practice:

  • Sit in a comfortable easy seat (Sukhasana).
  • Lengthen your spine and relax your shoulders.
  • Close your eyes and draw your awareness to your natural flow of breath.
  • Continue to breathe and take your attention to your perineal muscle or cervix. Contract this area by drawing muscles upwards. Then relax. Repeat 4 - 5 times while breathing fully.

Uddiyana Bandha (“to fly upwards”)

The uddiyana bandha is located in the abdominal region. When this area is contracted it causes the diaphragm to rise. Engaging this bandha as you practice will help you draw in deeper breaths and protect your spine.

To practice:

  • Sit in a comfortable easy seat (Sukhasana).
  • Lengthen your spine and relax your shoulders.
  • Close your eyes and breathe in slowly and deeply through your nostrils.
  • Exhale through the mouth and let your lungs empty completely.
  • Retain the exhalation and scoop your stomach in, contracting your abdominal muscles inwards and upwards.
  • To release, relax your abdomen, soften your shoulders, and inhale slowly and gently.
  • Let your breathing return to normal before practicing again.

Jalandhara Bandha (“a net or mesh”) 

The jalandhara bandha is located in the front of the throat. It serves to regulate the flow of prana to the heart and the heart chakra. In some positions the throat lock occurs naturally through the body’s positioning (such as Sarvangasana, or “supported whole body posture”).

To practice:

  • Sit in a comfortable easy seat (Sukhasana).
  • Place palms on knees and your spine straight.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply.
  • Draw your head forwards, lowering your chin and pressing it down firmly into the collarbone notch. Straighten your arms and press your palms to your knees to lift your shoulders.
  • Hold for a moment or two and then lift your chin away from your chest, release the pressure of your hands on your knees, and relax your shoulders. Exhale slowly and fully.
  • Repeat 4 more times.

To continue working on incorporating bandhas into your practice you can click here to see the schedule of upcoming classes at HEAL Yoga or contact us at (801) 436-7680 to learn more.

Heal Yoga Studio in Ogden, Utah specializes in yoga for the individual even in a group setting. We believe that to heal the world, we must first heal ourselves.

Morgan Byrne is an instructor at Heal Yoga Studio and a RYT 200 hr Yoga Alliance certified teacher. She received her training at Sampoorna Yoga in Goa, India. 

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