Bandhas in Meditation and Pranayama


Pranayama Teacher Training Jan 16th 2021

Meditation Teacher Training Oct 31st 2020

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika and many other yoga texts extol the virtues of applying bandhas in pranayama and mediation.  

Jalanadhara meaning

  • Jåla refers to the network of the nerves passing through the neck into the brain and
  • Dhara denotes upward pull of the flow of the nectar by exercising

           upward pull upon the spine and thus working upon the brain

One of the purposes of jälandhara bandha during pranayama is to exercise considerable pressure on the carotid sinus leading to the stimulation of the carotid nerves and after constant practice, slow down the heart and a trance like condition may supervene.

Bandhas in Meditation and Pranayama


  • The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states that, at the end of one’s inhalation

            and before kumbhaka commences, one must apply Jalandhara Bandha.

  • The Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Yoga Kundalini Upanishad both agree that Jalandhara Bandha moves prana into the central energy channel (sushumna nadi).
  • The two nadis should be stopped firmly by contracting the throat.
  • Jalandhara Bandha keeps prana from entering the head
  • The Yoga Kundalini Upanishad tells us that Jalandhara Bandha

            prevents the air compressed in kumbhaka from entering the head

HYP 97

Among all the bandhas, uddiyana is the best. With firm application of uddiyana, mulha bandha is automatically formed.

HYP 98

Contracting the throat, firmly press the chin on the chest. This is jälandhara bandha, which stops the flow of the nectar

HYP 99

The network of the nerves is tied up, preventing

the downward flow of the (nectar). Moreover, jälandhara-

bandha alleviates the disorders of the throat.

HYP 100

Application of jaladhara bandha by contracting the throat, prevents the nectar falling into the fire and stops vayu going astray

HYP 102

Uddiayna should be practiced by contracting the mulha (anus). The two nadis (ida and pingala) are blocked by contracting the throat (jalandhara bandha)

HYP 103

Madhya cakra is considered the one which controls the sixteen adharas. (by practising uddiyana bandha the course of prana in ida and pingala is stopped and directed through the posterior path)


  • first learn Jalandhara Bandha and then include internal (antara) kumbhaka
  • External kumbhaka with Jalandhara Bandha is considered a more advanced, which should be learnt later on
  • Sit in padmasana or an upright seated posture, with the head and spine straight
  • The knees should be in contact with the floor.
  • Place the palms of the hands on the knees and close the eyes
  • Inhale slowly and deeply and hold the breath inside
  • While retaining the breath, bend the head forward and press the chin tightly against the chest
  • Straighten the arms and lock them firmly into position, pressing the knees down with the hands
  • Simultaneously, hunch the shoulders upward and forward
  • Remain in this locked position for as long as the breath can be comfortably held. Do not strain
  • Relax the shoulders, bend the elbows and slowly release the lock. Raise the head and then exhale
  • Repeat when the breath has returned to normal

Variation: A simpler and more subtle variation of jalandhara bandha is the head is simply bent forward so that the chin presses the neck. The shoulders and the arms do not move. This variation is often used during pranayama to


Why Mulha Bandha?

According to yoga, the downward flow of life force is in part a reason for the loss of life force. Mula Bandha preserves life force and encourages it to flow upwards.

The Yoga Kundalini Upanishad calls Mula Bandha the forcing up of the vital downward current apana vayu.

It states that directing apana vayu upwards, together with igniting internal fire, will make the serpent Kundalini enter its hole, the central energy.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states that apana must be raised to the ‘region of fire’, (Manipura Chakra), where it meets agni, which is then stoked by wind (vayu). Together they have the power to ignite Kundalini.

HYP 79

Press the perineum with heel, contract the anus and raise the apana upwards. This is called mulha bandha  

HYP 81

Press the anus with the heel and repeatedly raise the vayu with force, so that the samirana moves upwards

HYP 82

Mulha bandha leads to the union of prana an apana, nada and bidndu, which brings success in yoga, in which there is no doubt

HYP 87

Then, just as a serpent enters into a hole, she (kundalini) enters the brahma nadi. Therefore, a yogi should always practice mulha bandha


Why Uddiyana Bandha?

Uddiyana bandha is said to move and contain prana within shushumna nadi

Depending on the level of the practice, Uddiyana bandha can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, and Jalandhara bandha and mulha bandha activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Creating a balance between ida and pingala nadis.    

 HYP 92

The practice, which makes the great bird always moving upwards incessantly, is known as uddiyana   

HYP 92

Retract the abdomen above the navel towards the back. This is uddiyana, which overcomes death, like a lion killing an elephant   

HYP 97

Among all the bandhas, uddiyana is the best. With firm application of uddiyana, mula is automatically formed  


  • sit in an upright posture that enables the knees to touch the ground
  • place the palms of the hands flat on the knee
  • close the eyes and relax the whole body
  • Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale fully
  • accentuating the contraction of the abdominal muscles
  • emptying the lungs as much as possible
  • hold the breath outside the body and perform jalandhara bandha
  • contract the abdominal muscles inward and upward, making the abdomen concave
  • hold this locked body position for as long as the breath can be comfortably held outside
  • Then release uddiyana bandha followed by jalandhara bandha and raise the head fully before inhaling


Bandhas are also prescribed as a means to untie the knots that bind us call Granthis.   

the three Granthis represent the main blockages or attachments that confront the seeker from experiencing a higher awareness and understanding of all things.

Brahma granthi, which controls mulhadhara and swadhisthana chakras. Attachment here creates fear, insecurity with attachment all things material.

Vishnu granthi, which controls manipura and anahata chakras. Attachment here creates bondage to other people and emotional relationships.

Rudra granthi, which controls vishuddhi and Ajna chakras and represents the obstacles created by the power of the intellect, and attachment to siddhis and other higher psychic experiences.

As long as the knots exist, the negative power of the chakras manifest. When they are released, the positive power of the chakras will manifest.

The build-up of prana created with the practice of bandhas releases these knots and the student is free to attain what lies beyond all attachment.



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