The three bandhas

1. Mule bandha,
2. Uddijana bandha and
3. Jalandhara bandha.

The meaning of the word bandha is: to bind, lock, close. When we practice yoga called pranayama, the middle part of our body from the base of the reproductive organs to our neck must be voluntarily bound. Without the three bandhas, we certainly cannot achieve the full benefits of pranayama.

The practice of pranayama should not be begun without having attained a fair proficiency in some, at least of the sitting asanas, i.e., until it has become possible to sit in one of the asanas without discomfort for some appreciable time. This condition has been stressed by Patanjali in Chapter II, verse 49 of his SUTRAs. So also has Swathmarama, in his book, HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA, second upadesa. Without bandhas, pranayamas are not possible, writes GORAKHSHANATH. Amongst asanas, Padmasana is the best. Of the Bandhas for the practice of pranayama, three Bandhas are important. These are: JAIANDARA BANDHA: chin lock – the chin presses against the chestbone as low as possible so that the thyroid gland is pressed. MULA BANDHA: Drawing back of the lower abdomen. UDDIYANA BANDHA: drawing in of the lower and upper abdomen as far back and up as possible. For regulating the breathing by one of the nostrils at a time, the fingers are used to close the appropriate nostril. So also are they used for closing both the nostrils when holding the breath. The proper way of using the fingers, prescribed in the Yoga treatises, is to bend the index and middle finger of the right hand to touch the palm, leaving the other fingers extended. The thumb is placed on the right nostril and the other two extended fingers on the left nostril. These fingers should be placed near the middle of the nose, so that when pressed, the inner given to the nose, and the facial muscles below the eyes experience a slight pull. This way of holding the fingers is called MRIGI MUDRA.