Bandhas are “locks” or constrictions of certain energy centers (chakras) in the body. Bandhas may be performed during certain asanas (poses) or during specific pranayama (breath techniques).
- Mulabandha: root lock. Mulabandha is located at the base of the spine, in the first chakra, and it is performed by lifting your pelvic floor. Physically, you are contracting at the perineum (the soft tissue between the anus and the genitals). Typically men have a tighter or constricted pelvic floor more naturally, so it is more important for women especially to concentrate on activating mulabandha.
- Uddiyana bandha: “flying upward.” Uddiyana bandha is located in the low belly, in the second chakra, and it is engaged by pulling the muscles of the lower abs in and slightly upward. This can be done lightly or in more forceful variations. Within some low belly constriction can be maintained throughout breathing, it is especially important to engage uddiyana bandha during the exhale. (More extreme variations of this bandha can only be performed on exhales and should not be done after eating or while pregnant.)
- Jalandhara bandha: chin or throat lock. Jalandhara bandha is located at the top of the throat, in the fifth chakra, and it is performed by lengthening the back of throat and neck while dropping the chin forward and moving the roof of the mouth up and back (raising towards the ears). This bandha stops the flow of energy or prana from traveling from the torso to the head or in reverse.