"Jalandhara bandha, uddiyana bandha and moola bandha are situated respectively in the throat, abdomen and perineum. If their duration can be increased, then where is the fear of death?"
Yogataravali (Sri Adi Shankaracharya)
The sanskrit word bandha means to "hold" or to "lock" and the aim is to lock the prana (vital energy) in specific areas and to guide their flow into sushumna - the central canal that connects the base chakra to the crown chakra - with the purpose of obtaining spiritual awakening.
There are three bandhas:
• Moola bandha: the root lock is done with muscles in the pelvic floor, the perineum.
• Uddiyana bandha: the abdominal lock contracts the abdomen muscles inwards and upwards.
• Jalandhara bandha: the throat lock is done by pressing the chin against the chest.
Maha bandha: the combination of the above three locks, also called the great lock.
The practice of the bandhas should be done with a competent teacher as they bring both benefits and contra-indications and they are ideally performed in conjunction with mudras and pranayama. If they are practiced on their own they should be performed after asanas and pranayama and before meditation. Pregnant women, people suffering from high blood pressure, peptic and duodenal ulcers or heart ailments should not practice bandhas, or at least do it cautiously.
Lock in your life force with bandhas and bring your practice to another level!