A Bandha is a lock. There are few forms of Bandha that we use in order to lock energy in our body. These locks allow the flow of energy in one direction only, When we use a Bandha we allow energy to flow in the direction that is from the physical location of the Lock and upward. energy cannot flow from the lock downward.
One of the main effect of the practice of Kundalini Yoga is the awakening of the Kundalini Energy, the awakening of Kundalini Energy means that the dormant energy rises up the spine flowing through the Chakras in the central energy channel called Sushumna.
These locks are not only preventing the flow of energy down the spine they are actually pushing the energy up the spine. The Bandhas are combined with many exercises in Kundalini Yoga and are performed by contracting specific areas of the body.
Bandha practice helps in strengthening the core muscles, creates a good posture and contributes greatly to any Yoga practice. Proper practice of the locks will release blockages in the subtle energy channels and will benefit with the general flow of life energy in the Body.
Mul Bandha – Root Lock
The root lock (Mul in Sanskrit means Root) is the lock that refers to the lower part of the body and to the first 3 Chakras. the root lock is applied regularly in kundalini yoga practices.
When learning how to apply this Bandha we think of it as if it’s done in 3 steps:
1. Contracting the anus muscles.
2. Pulling up the genitals
3. Pulling in the navel point. (The area of the lower abdomen, about 4 fingers under the navel)
The entire area needs to be pulled in and up. In reality it is one smooth and subtle movement of the root area.
The root lock can be applied at any moment, during physical practice, during meditation or just as a constant habit, The practice of Mul Bandha is a very efficient way to maintain a high level of energy in the body and strengthening our base and our core.
The diaphragm lock is encouraging the Energy to flow from the third Chakra and up. It is done by strongly pulling in and up the Diaphragm.
Udiana Bandha is made on an empty stomach only and after a full exhalation, when you are totally out of air.
as you hold your breath out, strongly pull the belly in and up emphasizing on pulling the area that is located above the navel towards the spine. Keep the chest area open.
To release this lock, relax the belly and inhale gradually.
The diaphragm lock helps to strengthen the digestive system, stimulating the internal organs and the adrenal and opens up the Heart Chakra
The throat lock refers to the lock of energy that allows energy to flow from the throat and up. In the practice of Kundalini yoga a light throat lock is being applied regularly for almost every Asana, Meditation, Pranayama and Mantra chanting.
We apply a light Jalandhara Bandhay by gently tucking our chin in, and by that, elongating the neck and lengthening the upper part of the spine. this basic position of the neck is a essential for the regular flow of energy up the spine.
The full throat lock is performed by gently pulling the chin in towards the back of the neck, Keep the chest open with the sternum pulled upward and a straight spine. Pull your shoulders back and automatically you feel your throat is locked.
This Bandha helps in maintaining a proper posture and in the alignment of the spine The neck lock seals the energy that is in the brain and thus brings to a meditative and focused state of mind.
Maha Bandha – The Great Lock
Maha Bhanda is the application of the three locks together.
remember that it must be done after a full exhalation and on an empty stomach since that is the requirements for the Udiana Bandha.
As you hold out the air first pull the neck lock first then the diaphragm lock and finally the root lock, to release, let go of the root, diaphragm, neck lock in this order and inhale gradually and gently.
The practice of Maha Bandha can be done only after mastering each of the bandhas separately.
Practicing Maha Bandha is beneficial for general well being, the autonomous nervous system, the strengthening of the internal organs, glands and muscles, the elevation of the pranic energy and the activation of the pineal gland.
Here is a link to the instructions for the Maha Mudra Asana that combines the Maha Bandha in it.