2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses (2015)
Bandha means “lock.” Bandhas were traditionally believed to regulate the flow of life energy (prana) throughout the body. In contemporary yoga practice, bandhas serve a more practical purpose. They are contractions, or “body locks,” that you can implement to help correct your posture or aid you in proper alignment.
There are three major bandhas: mula bandha, uddiyana bandha, and jalandhara bandha. The combination of all three bandhas is called maha bandha, or “the great lock.”
Mula bandha refers to the triggering of the perineum muscle that is located between the genitals and the anus. Mula means “root,” therefore mula bandha translates as “root lock.” When this bandha is engaged, you will feel a slight pull on the inside of the thighs, similar to what you feel when trying to stop the flow of urine.
Uddiyana bandha means “flying/moving up.” To engage this bandha, place three fingers below the belly button and pull your lower abdominal muscles slightly in and up. This will cause your pelvis to tilt forward slightly with an upward action, protecting the lower back and strengthening the lower abdominals.
Mula and uddiyana bandhas should be engaged throughout the yoga practice. Together they help correct the posture and create proper alignment, which will reduce the chance of injury.
Jalandara bandha is a chin lock. To practice this lock, bring the chin toward the clavicle bone while keeping your spine upright and moving your shoulder blades down the back. This bandha is rarely used, but can be found when engaged in Dandasana, Staff Pose.