Body Locks (Bhandas)

Body locks or muscular contractions applied for the retention and channeling of Prana.

(taken from best-selling book – Transitions to a Heart Centered World – Guru Rattana, Ph.D.)

MULABHANDA: Mulbhand or Root Lock is the most frequently applied. It is performed in three steps (quickly & smoothly with practice) by first contracting the anal sphincter, drawing it in and up (as if trying to hold back a bowel movement), then drawing up the sex organ (so that the urethral tract is contracted). Lastly, pull the navel point by drawing the lower abdomen back towards the spine. This is applied with breath held (in or out), and helps unite the two major energy flows, prana and apana, generating psychic heat which triggers the release of Kundalini energy, and often ends an asana or exercise.

UDDIYANA BHANDA: Diaphragm Lock is applied by lifting the diaphragm high up into the thorax while pulling the upper abdominal muscles back towards the spine, creating a cavity, and giving a gentle massage to the heart muscles. It helps to move and transform pranic energy up to the neck region, stimulates the hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the brain and develops a sense of compassion. Can give new youthfulness to the entire body. It is normally applied with the breath held out. In Laya yoga, the rhythmic application of this lock achieves the highest effects of chanting.

JALANDHARA BHANDA: Neck Lock or Chin Lock is used during all chanting meditations and pranayams (breathing exercises) unless otherwise specified. This is done by lifting the chest and sternum upward and stretching the back of the neck straight by pulling the chin back towards the neck. You should feel some tension in the back and sides of the neck. The chin rests in the notch between the collar bones and the head stays level without tilting forward, straightening the cervical vertebrae, and allowing the free flow of prana to the brain. This lock puts pressure on the thyroid and parathyroid to enable their secretions, and in turn, activate the pituitary. Without this lock pranayama can cause uncomfortable pressure in eyes, ears and heart. It will also prevent dizziness caused by rapid changes in blood pressure which can occur when nadis (channels of pranic flow) are unblocked.

MAHABHANDA: Great Lock – the application of all 3 locks at once. This rejuvenates nerves and glands, regulates blood pressure and produces many other benefits.

BHANDA EXERCISE (To fully understand & experience the Locks or Bhandas).
Sit on heels and spread the knees wide apart, palms on thighs. (A) Apply Root Lock & relax it. (B) Apply Diaphragm Lock & relax it. (C) Apply Neck Lock and relax it. Repeat in rhythmic alteration for 3-11 minutes, pulling locks on the exhale (the breath naturally goes out on the first 2 locks ).

Practice on an empty stomach. This will help to distinguish the locks and perceive energy movement along the spine.

Republished with permission from Copyright © 2012 – Yoga Technology, LLC.