Bandhas are energy locks that are engaged during yogic practices to seal in and intensify the heat and energy that is being created during the practice. Intense internal heat is produced, which functions to purify the body and expand our life force and pranic body. Combined correctly with Vinyasa and Asana, the body becomes strong and light. Bandhas are a vital component of yoga practice and without them perfection and benefits of the asanas, correct breath, and control of the mind are not possible. By practicing Bandhas the body becomes healthy, strong, pure and radiant.
There are three bandhas in the body, which are the anal, navel, and throat locks. Mula Bandha is the anal lock, located in the perineum. To activate Mula Bandha the practitioner focuses on tightening the muscles around the genitals and anus and lifting the perineum up towards the navel. Uddiyana Bandha is the navel lock. To activate Uddiyana Bandha the practitioner pulls in the belly, bringing the navel closer to the spine and then lifting the navel up towards the solar plexus area. Jalandhara Bandha is the throat lock. While practicing Asana, the activation of Ujjayi breath subtly engages Jalandhar bandha. In order to increase the intensity of Jalandhara Bandha during Pranayama and Meditation practices, the practitioner lifts the chest and tightly tucks the chin towards the sternum.
In the beginning the yogi should continue to draw their attention to the activation of the bandhas on a physical muscular level. With time and consistent practice, and as the yogi becomes physically stronger and more aware of the pranic body, the bandhas become less physical and more energetic and eventually mentally automatic. When the bandhas are perfect the mind comes under control.