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What are bandhas?

The bandhas- locks are gateways to developing core strength, sensitivity, and subtlety and are fundamental to kundalini yoga. The practice of the three body locks brings both depth and effectiveness to yoga practice. The locks, specific contractions of core areas of the body, are indicated in many kundalini yoga meditation and kriyas. Applying the body locks properly will help you clear blockages that impede the open flow of energy through your physical body, chakras, and subtle bodies. With a steady flow of energy, you can bring harmony and balance to your life, you can have access to your core values, and you can express yourself with integrity. Applying the body locks heightens your awareness. In this technique, the vital energy is locked and made to flow in particular region/part of the annamayakosha. Bandha It is an advanced technique developed in Hatha Yoga practice. There are mainly four types of Bandhas 1. Jalandhara Bandha 2. Uddiyana Bandha 3. Moola Bandha 4. Maha Bandha

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1. Jalandhara Bandha Neck Lock is a basic lock applied, unless you are moving the head, as in neck rolls, or are otherwise instructed. Apply the neck lock during most pranayam, breath control, practices and meditations, and while chanting.

To apply Neck Lock:

Sit comfortably with a straight spine. Lift your chest and sternum upward. Stretch the back of your neck gently straight by pulling the chin in toward the back of the neck. Keep your head level and centered without tilting forward or to either side. Keep the muscles of your face, neck, and throat as relaxed as you can. Neck Lock is automatically applied by the shift of relative position between the chin and chest. Do not force your head forward or down. When you apply the neck lock, you allow your neck to be open and maintain its natural structure, which helps you maintain better spinal posture in general. The neck lock also "seals" the energy that is generated in the upper areas of your brain stem, so it becomes easier to focus and meditate. NOTE: Jalandhar Bhand, applied consciously and correctly, is said to help "untie the Knot of Shiva." This 'knot' or gateway is located at your brow point. When the energy of this knot is untied and flowing, you feel free of time and space. You associate yourself with the timelessness and non-duality of the soul and the Divine essence. This exercise awakens the inner energy centers, especially the Vishuddhi Chakra. Improves the ability to retain the breath for a long period of time and develops the ability to concentrate. Beneficial for throat diseases and regulates thyroid function.

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2. Uddiyana Bandha Diaphragm Lock: Here, your diaphragm muscle forms both a physical and energetic barrier between your heart and your lower torso. Below this barrier are your lower Chakras, the ones that relate to behaviors that are more unconscious or reactive. Above this barrier are your upper Chakras, the ones that relate to behaviors that are more conscious and aware. To apply Diaphragm Lock:

Be sure you do not have a full stomach. Apply this lock only with your breath fully exhaled - holding your breath out. Sit comfortably with a straight spine. Inhale deeply and exhale completely through the nose. Hold the breath out. Pull your entire abdominal region, especially the area above your belly button, back toward your spine. Keep your chest lifted and do not allow your chest to collapse downward. Press the lower thoracic spine forward gently. Keep the lift strongly applied for 10-60 seconds, according to your ability, without strain, and maintain a concentrated sense of calm. See Cautionary Note.
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Release the lock by relaxing your abdomen and gradually inhaling. Diaphragm Lock, Uddiyana Bandh, helps to strengthen your digestion by increasing the fire element, the element of transformation in your abdominal region. This helps your heart center - your Heart Chakra - to open and flow with energy. When your Heart Chakra is open, you have the ability to be sensitive, compassionate, and kind. NOTE: Uddiyana Bandh correctly and consciously done, is said to "untie the Knot of Vishnu," The knot of Vishnu is located at the Heart Chakra, the area of your rib cage, heart, lungs and thymus gland. When the energy is no longer knotted at this center, but is flowing and open, it is said you can feel the playfulness of your life, and the larger cosmic plan with perspective and relaxation.

Benefits: Activates the Manipura Chakra and solar plexus. Stimulates intestinal activity and helps relieve constipation and improves digestive system Stimulates the pancreas and is helpful for diabetes. Strengthens the immune system.

3. Moola Bandha Root Lock is frequently used and closes off the lower 3 chakras and allows the kundalini energy to rise. Starting Position Concentration Breath : Sidhasana/Ardha Padma : on the Muladhara Chakra

: inhale deeply and hold the breath

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To apply Root Lock: Contract the muscles of the rectum, the sex organs and the navel point and pulling in and up on the navel. Benefits Mula Bandha stimulates the pelvic nerves, the genital system, the endocrine system, and the excretory system. It has also been shown to relieve constipation and depression Maha Bandha When Jalandhara Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Moolabhanda are practiced together it becomes Maha Bandha

Mudras are basically hand gestures which ensures flow of pranic energy in specific paths while practicing pranayama and other yogic practices like kapalabhati, Dharana Dhayana etc. Each finger is associated with an element. When a finger is brought into contact with the thumb, that particular element is brought into balance.

Cin Mudra Cinmaya Mudra Adi Mudra Bramha Mudra Others: Nasika Mudra, Namaskara Mudra etc

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Benefits : Balances the five elements ( panch-tattvas ) in the human system to their optimal levels An effective technique to bring the mind into a state of harmony. Used for healing certain ailments and regular practice of mudras will contribute to your overall good health and can be used as a preventive measure.

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