Bandha means to lock, close-off, to stop. In the practice of a Bandha, the energy flow to a particular area of the body is blocked. When the Bandha is released, this causes the energy to flood more strongly through the body with an increased pressure.

The four bandhas are described as follows:

  • 1. Mula bandha: Mula is a Sanskrit word meaning "root." The "root lock," as it may also be called, involves contracting the perineum muscles inward, then lifting them upward to hold energy. Performing mula bandha promotes energy flow to the rectum, stimulating the pelvic muscles and urogenital organs. It also awakens the individual's kundalini power.
  • 2. Uddiyana bandha: Uddiyana is a Sanskrit word meaning "to rise up." In this second bandha, energy moves upward more forcefully than it does in mula bandha. Uddiyana bandha stimulates the abdominal muscles as they are pulled in, while the chest lifts upward. Though it is highly recommended for those struggling with constipation, Uddiyana bandha can also boost the practitioner's metabolism and promote healthy function of the adrenal gland, thereby relieving stress and tension. It also energizes the heart chakra (anahata), promoting kindness and compassion.
  • 3. Jalandhara bandha: Jalandhara is a Sanskrit word derived from the roots jal, meaning "throat," and dhara, meaning "flow." It is performed by bringing the chin down towards the chest; therefore, it is also called the "chin lock." Practicing this bandha improves the function of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, as well as supports the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
  • 4. Maha bandha: Maha is a Sanskrit word meaning "great." As such, this final bandha may also be called the "supreme bandha" or "triple lock." Maha bandha is named as such because it provides the health benefits of all three previous bandhas. Maha bandha is practiced by performing the first three bandhas simultaneously, beginning with Jalandhara bandha and ending with mula bandha. These bandhas are released in the reverse order, with mula bandha first and Jalandhara bandha last

Generally, the breath is held during practice of the Bandhas. 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.

  • As the Bandhas momentarily stop the flow of blood, there is an increased flow of fresh blood with the release of the Bandha, which flushes away old, dead cells. In this way all the organs are strengthened, renewed and rejuvenated and circulation is improved.
  • Bandhas are also beneficial for the brain centres, the Nadis and the Chakras. The energy channels are purified, blockages released and the exchange of energy is improved. Bandhas alleviate stress and mental restlessness and bring about inner harmony and balance.
  • Before attempting to perform the Bandhas, the breathing techniques of the previous levels must have been practiced regularly for a long period of time.
  • Before proceeding with the breath exercise in this and the following levels, first read and study the explanation given for the relevant Bandhas and Mudras as they are incorporated into the breathing techniques.