Defining bandhas physically can mean a simultaneous activation of opposing muscle groups around joint, to bring stability, depending on the bandhas activated. However, when activating for example nabhi bandha it is a front to back action, and swadhi bandha maintains pelvic stability.


The location of Swadhi bandha is in the pelvic bowl, above Mulha Bandha and below Nabhi bandha and maintains pelvic integrity. One of the main benefits of Swadhi bandha is the space that it creates around the Sacroiliac joint.   


The Chakra connected with Swadhi bandha is Swadhisthana. This chakra represents how we move through life; our adaptability and our ability to flow or move forward. Openness in the hips is associated with freedom and flexibility, both emotionally and anatomically. Being open emotionally and physically without awareness can also be counterproductive.


Swadhi bandha ensures safe and progressive forward bending. When going forward the action comes from the hips ensuring the spine and pelvis stay in neutral. Any rounding of the thoracic spine or lumbar spine suggests Swadhi bandha is not being employed.


Nabhi Bandha is accessed by contracting the abdomen four fingers below the navel in towards the back of the spine. The area above, Uddiyana bandha, and the area below, Swadhi bandha should remain unaffected. Applying nabhi bandha individually will tip the pelvis in a neutral position.


Hri bandha will open the heart centre, create space in the back, lift the trunk up from the pelvis, open the arm pits and stretch the lower back. It can be confusing to work with initially, and when we attempt to put into action several different movements at once.

Hri meaning heart or core, is said to be the centre of centres. It is a concept that goes beyond the personal and refers to the universal centre.

Practicing Hri Bandha will not only open our physical heart centre but will also work directly on our subtle body through the connection with Anahata chakra. The heart area it is said is where we experience feelings or attempt to hide from them. Practicing Hri bandha, it is said will work to reverse our attempts to hide from our emotions and feelings.   


Bandhas can also be defined as harnessing energy before it dissipates.

Tapas is commonly translated as austerity and asceticism, and both are correct, but it can also mean the controlled and disciplined use of energy. Pratyahara is again commonly defined as withdrawal of the senses. More correctly I would argue pratyahara means taking control of the information coming into the mind through the senses.

SUTRA 2:46

In Sutra 2:46 Patanjali defines how asana is to be experienced.

Motionless and agreeable form (of staying) is asana (yoga posture) Postures should be stable, comfortable and motionless.


Applying Jalandhara bandha in kumbhaka exerts pressure to baroreceptors in the carotid sinus. The carotid sinus baroreceptor plays a vital role in the control of blood pressure and heart rate.

Afferent signals travel from carotid baroreceptors to the cardiovascular control centre in midbrain via the glossopharyngeal nerve.

The effect stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, while inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system. The heart rate and blood pressure reduce through vasodilation. 

The application of Mulha Bandha activates the parasympathetic nervous system via the splanchnic nerves, which again slows the heart.



Commonly three bandhas are discussed, but there are many more. Usually we will come across:


  • Pada bandha (feet)
  • Kulpha bandha (ankles)
  • Janu bandha (knee)
  • Swadhi bandha (pelvis)
  • Kati bandha (hip)
  • Nabhi bandha (below navel)
  • Hri bandha (heart centre)
  • Hasta bandha (hand)
  • Mani bandha (wrist)
  • Kurpara bandha (elbow)
  • Amsa bandha (shoulder)
  • Ajna bandha (third eye)