4 Bandhas: Benefits of Bandhas in Yoga

benefits of bandhas in yoga

What are the benefits of bandhas in yoga and why you should practice it?

In Hatha Yoga, bandhas are locks. With the bandhas energies (prana) are controlled. The practice of the bandhas can give the other hatha yoga practices asana, pranayama, and mudra a special depth. Bandhas can also be used in everyday life and in meditation. Even in deep relaxation, bandhas can have a special meaning as an introduction to deep relaxation.

The bandha is a consciously induced muscle contraction to concentrate energies at a specific point in the body.

Importance and Benefits of Bandhas in Yoga

The bandhas are specific contractions of different central areas of the body and are used in many Kundalini yoga meditations and kriyas. Bandhas are yogic energy locks for the development of inner strength, sensitivity, and delicacy. 

The bandhas, or the locks, are essential in Kundalini yoga. To learn and develop the skills and the inner awareness that are necessary for the use of the body gates will deepen your yoga practice and make it more effective. 

Proper use of these locks will help you to dissolve blockages that hinder the free flow of energy in the physical body, chakras, and subtle bodies. Through a steady flow of energy, you can establish harmony and balance in your life, you get access to your inner values, and you can present yourselves with integrity. Body gates increase awareness.

4 Types of Bandhas in Yoga

Basically, there are 3 types of bandhas in yoga. The 4th bandha is the maha bandha. If you do all three bandhas together, that is maha bandha.

  1. Mula Bandha ( Root Lock or Anal Lock)
  2. Uddiyana Bandha (Diaphragm Lock or Abdominal Lock)
  3. Jalandhara Bandha (Neck Lock or Throat Lock)
  4. Maha Bandha (The Big Lock)

1. Mula Bandha (Root Lock)

Apana energy, which has a downward tendency, is forced upward by contraction and pulling the anus. This process is called Mula Bandha.

When the Apana is raised and reaches the sphere of the Agni (fire), the flame of the Agni becomes long, ignited by Vayu (air element, breath). Agni and Apana mix with Prana in a heated state. This Agni creates flaming fire in the body, which awakens the sleeping Kundalini. Then the Kundalini makes a hissing sound, stands up like a snake hit with a stick, and enters the Brahmanadi opening (Sushumna). Therefore, yogis should practice Mula Bandha daily.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Sit comfortably with your spine straight. 
  • Tense the muscles around the anus and feel the muscles move up and in. 
  • Keep these muscles tense and also tense the muscles in the area of the sexual organs. You will feel a slight lifting and an inward turning of the pubic bone, similar to the feeling as if you wanted to hold back the urine.
  • Tense the lower abdominal muscles and pull the navel point towards the spine. 
  • Apply these three muscle contractions in one gentle, quick, and fluid motion and hold the tension.

The mula bandha can be used within and out of breath and is sometimes held continuously during an exercise or meditation. This is possible because the muscles required for the root locks are not required for breathing or moving the upper body.

Benefits of Mula Bandha

Converts Sexual Energy into Creativity and Healing Energy

The Mula Bandha is a powerful contraction of muscles and stimulation of energies. It helps convert sexual energy into creativity and healing energy. The root lock is often used at the end of exercises and meditations to seal the healing and straightening effects and to stabilize the senses. 

Helps in Kundalini Awakening

The root lock mixes the energies of Prana and Apana – the energies that create and those that eliminate. The mixing of these energies creates a pressure that helps direct our energy upward through the physical body and chakras in a measured, stable, and balanced manner.

The practice of Mula Bandha activates the Muladhara Chakra (1st Chakra) and this stimulates with your consciousness and kundalini energy.

Helps to Cure Diseases

This Bandha cures the diseases of the intestines, piles and of organs of evacuation. It increases appetite.

Activates The Brahma Knot

If you consciously and correctly apply Mula Bandha, it will untie the Brahma knot. The Brahma node is located in the area of the first chakra at the beginning of the spine. When the knot is loosened and the energy flows gently, you feel balanced and free from attachments to forms and senses.

2. Uddiyana Bandha (Diaphragm lock )

The muscles of your diaphragm form a physical and energetic boundary between your heart and your lower trunk. Below this limit are the lower chakras, which are associated with behavior that is unconscious and reactive. Above this limit are the higher chakras that are associated with conscious behavior.

Step-By-Step Instructions

benefits of bandhas in yoga
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Uddiyana should be practiced at the end of Kumbhaka and at the beginning of inhalation.

Be careful that your stomach is not full. Only use the sheath when you have fully exhaled and hold your breath out while performing. 

  • Sit comfortably with your spine straight. 
  • Inhale deeply and then fully exhale through your nose. 
  • Hold your breath. Pull your abs, especially the area around your belly button, back towards your spine.
  • Keep your chest raised and be careful not to let it collapse. 
  • Push the lower thoracic spine slightly forward. 
  • Keep the lock strongly tightened for 10 to 60 seconds according to your ability without exerting yourself excessively and maintain a concentrated state of calm. 
  • Relax the lock by relaxing your abs and slowly breathing in.

Uddiyana Bandha can also be done standing. If you do it in a standing position, put your hands on your knees or slightly above your knees. Keep your legs slightly apart.

Benefits of Uddiyana Bandha

  • Uddhiyana Bandha supports digestion by strengthening the fire element, the element for transformation in the abdominal region.
  • This helps the heart center, the heart chakra, to open and let the energy flow. When the heart chakra is open, qualities such as sensitivity, compassion, and kindness grow.
  • When the Uddiyana Bandha is consciously and correctly applied, the knot of Vishnu is broken. The Vishnus node lies at the heart chakra, in the area of the chest, heart, lungs, and thymus. If the energy in this area is no longer dammed up, but is released and can flow, then we can feel the playfulness of life and have a relaxed view of the larger cosmic plan.
  • Uddiyana Bandha helps to cure the diseases of the intestines, abdomen, and kidney.

3. Jalandhara Bandha ( Neck Lock)

Jalandhara Bandha should be performed at the end of the Puraka (inhalation). Jalandhara is a contraction of the neck in shape and is an obstacle to the passage of Vayu (one of the life energies as well as physical air) upwards. When the neck is pressed forward by bending the head so that the chin touches the chest, the prana passes through the Brahmanadi (energy channel in the spine).

The neck lock, Jalandhara Bandha, is a basic lock that is used continuously during Kundalini yoga exercises, unless one moves the head, for example when circling the head or when it is expressly announced. The neck lock is used in most pranayama exercises and meditations, as well as in singing.

Step-By-Step Instructions

benefits of bandhas in yoga
  • Sit comfortably with your spine straight. 
  • Raise your chest and sternum a little.
  • Stretch the back of the neck a little by bringing the chin slightly towards the neck.
  • Keep your head straight and centered without tilting it left or right.
  • Relax the muscles of your face, neck, and throat as best you can.

The neck lock is performed automatically when the chin and chest are in the correct position. Do not force your head forward or down. Usually beginners in yoga stretch their necks while other parts of their body are not yet flexible enough. When you use the neck lock, you are allowing the neck to open and maintain its natural structure. This will help you improve the overall posture of the spine. 

Benefits of Uddiyana Bandha

  • It helps to increase the time of retention of breath (Kumbhaka).
  • It gives relief to those suffering from the diseases of the throat.
  • It also seals in the energy that is built up in the upper parts of the brainstem, making it easier to focus and meditate.
  • Prevents energies from flowing upwards. Opens Sushumna in the throat area.
  • Allows you to hold your breath for a long time after you have inhaled fully.
  • Jalandhara Bandha helps to “undo the knot of Shiva” if it is used consciously and correctly. This “knot”, or “gate”, lies on the point between the eyebrows. When the energy of this knot is loosened and flowing freely, you feel free of time and space. Because this connects with timelessness and the unity of soul and divine being.

4. Maha Bandha ( The Big Lock)

The big lock, Maha Bandha, consists of the simultaneous execution of the three locks, whereby the breath is held. Maha Bandha is applied after many meditations, exercises, breathing exercises in different postures, and different mudras (yogic hand postures).

Maha Bandha Benefits

  • When the Maha Bandha is done consciously and correctly, the body enters a healing state of equilibrium.
  • Yogic traditions report that the healing effects of this bandha are helpful for menstrual cramps, circulatory problems, and obsession with mental fantasies.

You need the discipline to overcome the blockages that keep you from moving towards awareness and kindness so that you can feel your movement towards a sensitive person. Using these locks can help you. Use it consciously when it is appropriate and feel the effects.

As you learn these basic body gates, feel inside yourself to explore whether there are areas in you that are more cramped or feel more blocked than others.

Take the time to meditate on the effects of each lock on the physical, psychological, and energetic areas. This practice can reveal new or old aspects of body, mind, and energy that need attention or healing. Allow the body gates to be effective for long periods of time and make them part of your daily yoga practice.

Step-By-Step Instructions

1. Inhale, exhale fully, and pull the root canal. Take a breath and relax.

 Take a deep breath, exhale completely, and pull the diaphragmatic lock. Relax the lock and take a calm breath.

3. Pull the neck sheath and relax it again.

4. Repeat exercises 1 through 3 in a continuous sequence. Your body will sweat. The breath is naturally held out at the first two locks. Do this for 3 minutes. This gives you the ability to clearly separate the locks. You also develop a sense of how the energy moves in the pranic nadis (nerve channels) and the spine.

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