Bandha' (bond, arrest) is a term for the "neuro-muscular lock" / "body locks" in Hatha Yoga. Its a very powerful technique and can be applied in a specific asana, pranayama, mudras or in combination of yoga-asanas, pranayama, mudras and other elements of yoga practice / mind-body work.
Specific bandhas are:
- Mula Bandha / "root lock", (Exhale fully + contraction of the perineum).
The root referred to here is the root of the spine, the pelvic floor or, more precisely, the centre of the pelvic floor, the perineum. The perineum is the muscular body between the anus and the genitals. By slightly contracting the pubo-coccygeal (PC) muscle, which goes from the pubic bone to the tail bone (coccyx), we create an energetic seal that locks prana into the body and so prevents it from leaking out at the base of the spine. Mula Bandha is said to move prana into the central channel, called sushumna, which is the subtle equivalent of the spine.Technique: A posture where the body from the anus to the navel is contracted and lifted up and towards the spine.This is qualified in that the actual muscle contracted is not the sphincter muscle nor the muscle which cessates urination, but the muscle equidistant between the two.
Mūla Bandha is the principal, key and primary Bandha of the Yogic traditions. Mūla Bandha is endemic to all safe, grounded workings of bodymind disciplines. This Bandha in and of itself conditions the Muladhara Chakra, simultaneously keening, rooting and engaging the systemic plethora of processes that constitute bodymind and with diligence resolving them in discipline and accord. Mūla Bandha should be held as a restraint only after kumbhaka, which in this instance is where the breath is expressed in its entirety and held outside the body.
- Uddiyana bandha / "abdomen lock", (Exhale fully +contraction of the abdomen into the rib cage).
Is the abdominal bandha described and employed in hatha yoga. It involves, after having exhaled all the air out, pulling the abdomen under the rib cage by taking a false inhale while holding the breath and then release the abdomen after a pause. The process is repeated many times before letting the air into the lungs, resuming normal breath.
- Jalandhara Bandha / "chin lock", (Inhale fully + tucking the chin close to the chest).
It is performed by extending the neck and elevating the sternum before dropping the head so that the chin may rest on the chest. Meanwhile the tongue pushes up against the palate in the mouth.
- Maha Bandha, combining all three of the above bandhas with either full Exhalation / Inhalation.
Maha in Sanskrit means great, and Maha Bandha is the combination of all three aforementioned bandhas. Maha Bandha gives the benefits of all three bandhas and regulates the entire endocrine system.