Jalandhara Bandha, or the throat lock, is one of the three energetic “locks” used in asana and pranayama (controlled breath) practice to control and harness the flow of energy through the body.
For many, the practice of Jalandhara Bandha tends to be less frequent than the other two key locks – Uddiyana Bandha and Mula Bandha. This is because it tends to be more commonly done as seated breath work (perhaps except during certain asanas such as Bridge Pose or Shoulderstand).
However, Jalandhara Bandha is highly beneficial not only from a physical perspective but also from an energetic point of view.
In this post, we continue our mini Bandha series and go deeper into Jalandhara Bandha, the lesser-known brother of Uddiyana Bandha and Mula Bandha.
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Benefits for the Physical and Spiritual Body
Jalandhara Bandha works the spinal cord powerfully. That’s why I usually do it in the mornings when my neck and back are really tight from sleeping – Jalandhara Bandha helps to stretch and increase blood flow to the neck, shoulders and upper spine, which is a good way to prepare for the yoga practice ahead.
Remember that the neck and shoulders usually hold a lot of tension especially if you are always looking at your laptop or mobile devices for long periods – stretching them will help to release some of these tensions which, if left unaddressed, can be detrimental for long term health.
As Jalandhara Bandha is practised by bending the head forward and pressing the chin against the throat or chest, it is thought to enhance thyroid health by toning the thyroid and parathyroid glands and therefore also helps to regulate the metabolism.
Caution: Despite the benefits of Jalandhara Bandha, if you are suffering from dizziness, breathing problems or low / high blood pressure, please do not try this pose
Energetically, Jalandhara is linked to the throat chakra. This allows for a better connection to your self-expression and communication centres.
Mentally, practising Jalandhara Bandha is great for people with monkey minds like me. The throat lock reduces blood supply to the brain temporarily, allowing for your mind and heart to slow down. It will greatly help you increase your capacity to concentrate better by allowing you to feel stillness and peace (a rarity for the modern worker).
Practising Jalandhara Bandha Step-by-Step
Beginner Level: Learn the Proper alignment
- Sit in a comfortable meditative position in a cross-legged pose or lotus pose if you prefer.
- Keep your spine straight, while placing the palms on your knees. Your knees should be stretched outwards and firmly touching the floor
- Close your eyes and breathe normally. Feel your body relaxing as you start breathing slower and deeper
- Inhale deeply now, raising your chest and holding your breath for 10 seconds
- Contract your throat muscles, and push your head and neck to your chest.
- Let your chin touch the chest, ensuring that it rests between the collarbones
- Continue to hold your breath and this position for a few seconds – look at the tip of your nose, keep your chin down, contract your throat and neck muscles and maintain a straight back.
Caution: Do not strain to hold your breath. Beginners can work from a few seconds to a few minutes as you gain experience
- To release the lock, raise your chin and neck and exhale
- Return back to the starting position and breathe normally
Intermediate Level: Extend your hold of Jalandhara Bandha
- For experienced yogis, try to increase the duration of the practice gradually until you are able to hold Jalandhara Bandha for three minutes or more
- Ensure that you do not feel any suffocation or discomfort at all – once you feel at the edge of your limits, release the Bandha.
- If you are up for a bigger challenge, practise Jalandhara Bandha together with the other two bandhas to complete Maha Bandha. First, engage Mula Bandha, then Uddiyana Bandha, and finally Jalandhara Bandha.
Remember that practice makes progression. Don’t force yourself to hold Jalandhara Bandha longer than you can, but practise consistently until you can hold it for longer periods
Jalandhara Bandha in Yoga Poses
Jalandhara Bandha should usually be practised after your asana and pranayama practices but before meditation.
However, there are several asanas which allow you to find Jalandhara Bandha in them. These include:
- Plow Pose
- Ear Pressure Pose
- Wheel Pose
Once you get used to how Jalandhara Bandha feels when engaged, practise it with the other Bandhas to achieve Maha Bandha.
If you are used to holding Uddiyana Bandha and Mula Bandha during your asana practice, why not start incorporating Jalandhara Bandha into your yoga practice to achieve Maha Bandha.
I would love to hear about your experience with Bandha work and how it has helped you in your yoga journey. Do share your comments in the comment box below!
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The YogaMad is founded by Candy, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.