The 3 energy locks - The Bandhas
In Sanskrit, "Bandha" means to join, to seal together, to keep inside. Bandhas therefore refer to energetic locks. Engaging the bandhas during any yoga practice helps to stimulate and guide Prana (or life energy) in the body.Indeed, Prana is directed by currents called Vayus. According to the founding texts, the practice of yoga and breathing techniques without activating these bandhas could have a detrimental effect on the energy of the practitioner. There are three main bandhas in the body: Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Jhalandara Bandha. They can be practiced in isolation, two by two or all three together.When all three bandhas are activated at the same time, it is called Maha Bandha
Mula Bandha ( Mula: root, base / bandha: binding, attaching)
Mula Bandha is related to the pelvic floor area and the first chakra, the root chakra. It consists of contracting the muscles of the perineum or pelvic floor. The goal is to bring up the "apana" energy that tends to flow downwards. This engagement which closes your energetic lock of the bottom, allows the prana to go up along our chakras. Mula Bandha is therefore the worm that prevents the "Apana" energy from flowing downwards. How to activate Lulabandha? To engage Mula Bandha, you have to contract your perineum, that is to say tighten your perineum by holding back as if you wanted to pee; or the anal region as if you were holding back your stools. Mastering Mula Bandha requires perseverance as it can be more or less difficult to engage!
Uddiyana Bandha (Uddiyana: to lift / bandha: to bind, tie)
Uddiyana Bandha is related to the 2nd and 3rd chakras (sacral chakra and belly button chakra). Mastering this Bandha allows one to develop one's center, power and strength; But also to create more space to get to go further and have better alignment in asanas. Ice bandha makes it possible to make merge the energies of the bottom and the top of the organization. How to activate Uddiyana Bandha? In order to activate this bandha it is necessary to contract the abdominal muscles by retraction while raising the diaphragm; this is easier to achieve with empty lungs. To help you, you can place a hand on your belly to feel the navel pushing forward when you inhale and pulling back when you exhale. This gives the sensation of a belly button sticking to the spine.
Jalandhara Bandha ( Jalandhara: Jal: network / Dhara: flow, current)
Jalandhara Bandha avoids the upward leakage of energy and calms the mind. It channels prana by focusing the mind, stopping the flow of thoughts. It controls the network of nadis, nerves and blood vessels that cross the neck towards the brain.This bandha is particularly important during the practice of pranayamas and especially for breath-holding exercises.How to activate Jaladhara Bandha?To activate Jaladhara Banda, one should lightly press the chin in the direction of the sternum while keeping the back straight and stretching the neck upwards, while making sure to keep a space between the jaw and the neck.
Maha Bandha: activation of the 3 Bandhas
Maha in Sanskrit means great. Maha Bandha, the Great Lock, is the combination of all three Bandhas at once. Apana is the energy that flows out of the body, that empties, that dilutes. Conversely, Prana is the generating energy which always seeks to escape upwards. The fusion in the navel center of these two opposing currents produces an intense heating that is able to awaken the sleeping kundalini and allow its ascent.