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Article: What are Bandhas & How Do They Improve Meditation?

What are Bandhas & How Do They Improve Meditation?

What are Bandhas & How Do They Improve Meditation?

A bandha, known as a body lock in the yoga world, helps move the energy (often referred to as prana) in your body from one place to another. Specifically, bandhas help raise your energetic frequency to deepen your meditation by activating the upper chakras.

Chakras are the energy centers in the body through which our prana flows, and they are linked to our emotions as well as our physical health. As we move energy to the upper chakras (including the throat chakra, the third-eye, and the crown), we raise our energetic vibes and improve our health. Using bandhas in meditation also activates your intuition and your spiritual center.

Maybe this term is totally new to you, but for those practice meditation regularly, bandhas are an absolute must. In fact, bandhas are the yogi’s secret to making the body lighter for handstand presses and arm balances. If you’ve ever watched someone seem to float up off of their feet and onto their hands, you’ve probably seen a bandha in action. But today, we’ll stick to the basics of bandhas so you can start using them in your meditation practice.

The Root Lock - Mula Bandha

The mula bandha or root lock is done by pulling the navel, rectum, and sex organs up and in. It feels like you are stopping the flow of urination - if you’ve heard of or tried kegels, it’s a very similar feeling to that. This bandha moves energy from the lower two chakras (the root and the sacral chakras) up towards the heart chakra. You can hold this bandha during meditation while chanting mantras and keep it engaged to help you focus internally and clear your mind of distractions. It also stimulates the health of the reproductive organs and spinal fluid.

The root lock is often used doing pranayama breathing exercises or at the end of meditation to seal it.

Note: This lock is not to be done while menstruating or pregnant.

The Diaphragm Lock - Uddiyana Bandha

The diaphragm is located just below where the ribs meet. This bandha is only to be done when holding the breath after an exhale, but not during regular meditation. It massages your stomach and heart, stimulating the solar plexus and heart chakras. This means this bandha can improve self-love, forgiveness, confidence, and willpower.

After exhaling, pull your abdomen up and in, lift the chest, and press the lower spine forward. A word to the wise though, don’t practice this right after eating because it doesn’t feel good. Only hold the breath after the exhale for 10 seconds to 60 seconds maximum.

Note: This lock is not to be done while menstruating or pregnant.

The Neck Lock - Jalandhar Bandha

The neck bandha helps your energy move past the throat chakra and up to the two highest chakras, the third-eye (or brow) chakra and the crown chakra. It’s a very important position for effective meditation, improving your posture and countering hunched or slouched positions we slip into from prolonged sitting or looking at screens.

The jalandhar bandha is done by lifting the chest, pulling the chin slightly back, and then elongating the back of the neck. If you can do those three things, next focus on relaxing your face and neck. This improves the function of your glandular system, which regulates your hormones. This bandha also helps your energy run up the central channel for meditation while calming the heartbeat and blood pressure. Remember to breathe while holding this bandha.

Locking All Three - Maha Bandha

Also known as “the great lock,” this bandha is very grounding and consolidates your energy. The maha bandha is done with the breath held after an exhale, pulling into all three locks at the same time. While it’s a little tricky to master doing three locks at once, keep practicing and your body will develop the necessary muscle memory.

This bandha is good for menstrual cramps, the health of your organs, hormones, and nerves, and helps your digestion. Many yogis use this bandha to ease ailments of many kinds. Making this bandha a regular part of your meditation practice will improve your emotional state and increase the frequency of your energy.

Concluding Thoughts…

Bandhas work with the energy in your body much like a hydraulic system, moving energy to help you balance and harmonize your mind, body, and soul. They force you to become aware of your body and introduce movements you aren’t used to in order to remove energy blocks and re-circulate cleaner, higher-vibe energy. Bandhas are a great way to centre yourself and become more present in your meditation.

Add a bandha into your next meditation session and let us know what differences you felt!

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