Bandhas: yoga exercises with controlled breathing

Bandha is a term that can be found within yoga philosophy. When it comes to bandha, it is broadly speaking about exercises involving breathing technique in combination with different postures. By applying it you can get energy channels flowing again. But how does that work in practice and what does it do to you?

Bandha, the origin

Bandha comes from Sanskrit and can be translated as binding, blocking or closing. Bandha comes from the yoga philosophy, hatha yoga to be precise. It is applied to seal the prana. Prana is life energy or spiritual energy, which moves through the body through breathing. Good breathing therefore contributes to a good distribution of prana in the body.In fact, the bandhas manage your energy supplies with a kind of lock. Proper application is in itself an important item, because in yoga philosophy it is assumed that if you master the bandhas well, you master the principles of yoga. This is both mentally and physically.

Types of bandhas

There are actually three bandhas in the body and one that combines the three others, namely:

  • Jaladhara bandha, you activate this by pressing your chin against your chest.
  • Mula bandha, you activate this by tightening the pelvic floor.
  • Uddiyana bandha, you activate this by tightening the abdominal muscles.
  • Maha bandha, you activate this by applying all bandhas at the same time.

With jaladhara and mula bandha you prevent energy from escaping via the top or bottom of the body respectively . With the uddiyana bandha the spiritual energy is, as it were, raised. All energy locks can be applied to both inhalation and exhalation.Source: Evitaochel, Pixabay

What is the effect?

The effect of applying the bandhas can be diverse. Usually it concerns one or more of the following matters, namely:

  • It relieves stress.
  • It reduces an uneasy feeling.
  • It supports hormone balance.
  • It gives an inner harmonious feeling.
  • Blood circulation is optimized.
  • Energy channels are cleansed.


Apply in practice

It may sound simple, but it isn’t really, especially if you are not an experienced yoga practitioner and you combine the different bandhas. It is recommended that you first master the basic yoga exercises before you start working with the bandhas. Moreover, it is important to realize that it requires concentration. Any form of distraction in your immediate environment can disrupt concentration and therefore the process. It also applies to all regular yoga exercises that it is better to avoid all distractions.

In what order and duration

If you have little experience with yoga, start with the single exercises. These are standing postures, so make sure you are relaxed with your hands at your sides.

  • The mula bandha, in practice, means that you stand upright and fully contract your pelvic floor. You are, as it were, pulling up your pelvic floor. It is often experienced as holding in urine or pulling your tailbone inward.
  • Then move on to the udiyanna bandha, which means you have to tighten your abdominal muscles while standing. You pull your navel back towards your spine, as it were.
  • Then you perform the jaladhara bandha by pressing your chin firmly against your chest in a standing position, with your mouth closed.

The degree of difficulty is not so much in the individual exercises as in applying them to an inhalation or exhalation. By trying it out, you will experience whether inhaling or exhaling works comfortably for you. Finally, with the maha bandha you apply all exercises at the same time. That is a difficult exercise, because you were first able to concentrate on one posture and now you have to apply them all at the same time to an inhalation or exhalation.Try to hold the exercises for about twenty to twenty-five seconds. Build this up slowly until you are preferably approaching one minute. It seems limited, but in practice it will become clear that this is not the case.

Relax with a yoga exercise

Because the exercises, especially if you apply all the bandhas simultaneously, demand quite a lot from your body, you can choose to do a yoga exercise in between that will bring peace to body and mind. A yoga exercise that ideally calms you down is the savasana posture. This is also often called the corpse pose. It is a classic yoga pose that helps release muscle tension and promotes recovery. You can apply this attitude as follows:

  • Lie flat on your back with your hands loosely at your sides, palms facing up and feet close together (not touching).
  • Now close your eyes.
  • Concentrate on your breathing, i.e. breathe in slowly through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • Focus emphatically on your breathing, which means that you ‘let go’ of the rest of your body, as it were, or you are no longer consciously concerned with it.
  • It will then make you feel heavy or lethargic. One of those moments you have just before you actually fall asleep. However, you are often not really aware of it.
  • Continue to breathe calmly.
  • Perform these exercises for between five and ten minutes. Feel how your body feels after five minutes and continue for a few more minutes if desired.

You can use this exercise to relax between sessions or as a conclusion. In any case, this exercise is good for your recovery.Source: Lograstudio, PixabayCreate the right environment What should you pay attention to in order to work concentrated in an optimal space . In any case, the space must meet the following aspects, namely:

  • It must be a quiet space (in terms of sound and environment) with preferably subdued lighting.
  • No interference transmitters such as telephone, doorbell, playing children or pets that require attention.
  • Be guided by what helps you increase your concentration, such as certain music, (scented) candles, incense or vibrations (for example on a CD).

Don’t forget to wear loose-fitting clothing and clothing that is made of natural fibers . This is better to get rid of perspiration.


Bandhas can work well for body and mind, but you have to apply them correctly. It is best to do this if you are familiar with some basic yoga exercises. In any case, it can’t hurt to look into it in advance.