Beginner's Guide: Bandhas

Take your practice to the next level by incorporating bandhas into your yoga. Much like the work that comes even in basic foundational poses, you have two choices: collapse into your joints and hang in the pose, or fully engage, work, and get the most out of every single pose (even tabletop). By engaging your bandhas, your practice will expand and grow. But what are they? Read on to find out.

Bandhas are “energy locks”. The general gist is that you are keeping your energy flowing inside you by engaging and locking your bandhas, instead of letting the energy flow out of your body. It will help you float through the poses in your vinyasa.

There are 3 bandhas that can be practiced individually or all at once. If they are practiced all together, they are called Maha Bandha. Individually, they each have their own name.

First Up? Mula Bandha.

Mula bandha is locking the energy up. Imagine that you drank a gallon of water and there’s no bathroom in sigh. The muscles you engage in that situation create that feeling of “holding” it, which is similar to the feeling of Mula Bandha. You’re preventing your energy from flowing downward and out of you, keeping in locked in your body.

Uddiyana bandha is locking the core. It is a “zipping” up motion in the core. Start from the lower core and obliques, and engage the core upward, all the way up through the upper ribcage. In layman’s terms, keep your core engaged throughout your yoga practice, not just in a plank, where it may be more obvious or cued. Even poses like tadasana, tabletop, balancing poses, just about everything (except savasana)!

Jalandhara Bandha is a chin lock. This one is not terribly obvious when it should be practiced. It's typically during a seated meditation where the chin is pressed down into the upper chest. Imagine the least flattering double chin scenario – that’s jalandhara bandha. It is associated with pituitary activation and the fifth chakra, the throat chakra. It also lengthens the back of the neck as well.

Give one of these or all three of them a try during your next few practices, and see how it goes! Notice if you feel you have more energy and see how it works for you.

*Bandhas should not be practiced at all if you are pregnant.