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Ashtanga Yoga Encyclopedia
Sanskrit word "bandha" usually translates into “lock” but for
our purposes, it is more appropriate to look upon it as meaning “valve”.
To use a bandha means to contract certain groups of
muscles, to use them as a valve that can control the direction of the flow of
energy that we create while we practise asanas (yoga postures).
are three bandhas used in the Ashtanga Yoga practice: moola bandha, uddiyana
bandha and jalandhara bandha. They can be used individually or all three at the
- Moola bandha (the “Root Lock”) is the
most important bandha. It should be held almost throughout the
whole practice. To hold moola bandha means to contract the muscles
of the pelvic floor (perineal muscles) which helps to produce the heat needed
in the practice and to keep the energy flowing through the body instead of
- Uddiyana bandha (the “Upward Flying
Valve”). It should also be held almost throughout the whole practice. To
hold it means to exhale and contract the lower belly (three fingers below
your navel) inward and upward. Imagine that your navel is tied to a string
and you affix this string to your spine.
- Jalandhara bandha (the “Chin Lock”). To hold it
means to extend the chin forward and then draw it back into the notch
between the two clavicle bones. It is used only once, during the
practice of pranayama (breath control) in padmasana (the lotus
Holding moola bandha is perhaps the most important
aspect of Ashtanga Yoga – even more important than the breathing rhythm and by
far more important than performing an asana “correctly”. Originally, bandhas
were the first thing that was taught to beginners, followed by the breath and
only then asanas were taught.