Bandhas are energy or pranic locks that contain the prana in the torso and eventually concentrate it into the three main energy channels - nadis, and finally, into the central channel - sushumna nadi. Jalandhara bandha is the throat lock or bandha in the throat area of the physical body. Jala means water and dhara means holder or catcher. Water bearer or water catcher references the function of jalandhara bandha in catching the amrit or nectar that drips down from the sahasrara, the Crown chakra.
Jalandhara bandha engages and tones the deep neck flexor muscles, closes the airway, regulates the circulatory and respiratory systems, stimulates the thyroid to balance metabolism, and is said to cure all diseases of the throat. It improves your speaking and singing voice, making it clear and resonant.
Can increase self confidence and raise self esteem by improving our ability to speak comfortably and with self assurance in front of others. Can induce mental relaxation almost immediately, and is great for anger or stress relief.
Subtle Body Benefits
Energizes Vishuddhi Chakra, locks prana into the side channels and eventually into the central channel, which is necessary to enter the state of samadhi.
Learning to properly engage and use jalandhara bandha is a key component of harnessing all the prana into the central channel - this is the pranic manifestation of the highest state of samadhi. It is only from this highest state that we can truly understand our purpose in this life - to care for each and every living creature as though our own child. With this motivation, every time we engage jalandhara bandha, we are bringing ourselves closer to this highest state of liberation. This is the karmic result of practicing jalandhara bandha for this purpose.
Jalandhara bandha can be performed in an outer body way by engaging the deep neck flexors of the throat and the hyoid bone or as a more subtle and internal energetic process. At first, practice it in isolation, then it can be incorporated with the other bandhas, asanas, pranayamas and eventually mudras.
Sit comfortably in siddhasana or sukhasana or other cross-legged seated position with the palms facing down on top of the knees.
Lengthen your spine by rooting into your sitting bones and extending through the crown of your head, until you feel your body become a little weightless. Relax your shoulders and raise your sternum slightly.
Close your eyes and allow your breath to deepen. Take a slow deep inhale through your nose to two thirds of your lung’s capacity and hold the breath in. Simultaneously raise your sternum slightly and lower your chin into the sternal notch so the back of the neck stays long and does not round. Straighten your arms completely and hunch and roll your shoulders very slightly forward to deepen the lock in the throat.
If you know Mula Bandha - Root Lock - you will notice that this bandha also engages almost automatically together with Jalandhara Bandha on an inhale retention.
To release, raise your head to upright, relax your arms and shoulders and and very slowly take a breath in through your nose. Take a few natural breaths to allow your breath return to normal before practicing additional rounds.
Begin with practicing three rounds and slowly increase to ten rounds over time.
Jalandhara bandha can also be practiced on the exhalation retention phase of the breath.
Check with your teacher for duration of inhale and breath retention.
Complete your jalandhara bandha practice with some deep, relaxed breathing.
Tips from Deep Retreat
As with all the yogic practices, learn and practice jalandhara bandha only with a qualified teacher.
Initially, only retain the breath on inhalation phase for a second or two, just long enough to accomplish the locking action of the throat. Always check with your teacher before lengthening the duration of this retention.
The subtler version of jalandhara bandha requires a sensitivity to the passage of prana in the throat. When you swallow, the epiglottis closes. Jalandhara bandha is the subtle engagement of the epiglottis without swallowing. This comes with practice.
Practice jalandhara bandha at the top of the inhalation and also at the bottom of the exhalation to increase your sensitivity to the pranic locking sensation.
Mastery of jalandhara bandha is important in order to be able to master uddiyana bandha, the navel lock.
Jalandhara bandha is critical in many yoga asana poses like Chaturanga Dandasana (High Plank), Virabhadrasana (Warrior) 3, Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon), Trikonasana (Triangle) and many other poses where the head and neck need to be maintained in the alignment of the long axis of the spine.
Jalandhara Bandha is contraindicated in high blood pressure and heart disease.