How to do to Chin Lock – Jālandhara Bandha

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Here’s our basic guide on ‘How to do to Chin Lock – Jālandhara Bandha’. Bandha means ‘lock’ or ‘bond’. Generally, the first bandha a student would practice is jālandhara bandha. Jāla means web or net. The bandhas are used in our yoga practice. In āsana (yoga postures) and prāṇāyama (breathwork), their job is to contain and direct the prāṇā (life energy). 

Old texts describe the action of jālandhara bandha with a few simple words.  For example, in the Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā, Swami Svatmarama only instructs students to “contract the throat and press the chin against the breast.” If you read on, you’ll see it’s a little more complex! 

There are a lot of techniques on how to incorporate this into your practice. Sometimes we have the option to use jālandhara bandha in asana. Including simple baddha konasana, padmasana, and dandasana. As well as sarvangasana, halasana, and karnapidasana. When using the bandhas in asana it helps us control our breathing.

Here are three benefits of practicing Jālandhara Bandha

This bandha is often used in pranayama to refine breath retention, simply bringing the chin to the throat helps to focus and brings more awareness to our practice.

  1. Helps increase concentration
  2. Helping us retain the breath a little longer,
  3. Which helps us prepare for meditation.

How to do Chin Lock –  Jālandhara Bandha

  1. Sit in a comfortable seated position. A posture such as Siddhāsana, Vīrāsana, or Baddha Koṇāsana. Any position that’s comfortable, 
  2. Keep the spine upright, in other words, don’t slouch. You lift the sternum and keep the front of the ribs lifted – without pushing them forward. Close your eyes and breathe normally.
  3. Without any tension, stretch the sides of the neck. And move the shoulder blades into the body. Keeping the top part of the spine (thoracic and cervical spine) curving inwards.
  4. Slowly bend the head slightly forward, and downwards from the back of the neck, towards the front of the chest. Inhale deeply, raise your chest and retain the breath for 10 seconds.
  5. No force is required; keep the neck and throat muscles soft, and sides of the neck long.
  6. Bring the head down so that the ‘point and both sides of the jawbone rest evenly in the notch between the collar-bones, on the front wall of the chest
  7. Note – the full jālandhara bandha requires the chin to rest comfortably on the sternum (neck flexion).
  8. Avoid forcing the chin to the chest, but aim to lift the chest to meet the descending chin. Beginners often make the mistake of only lowering the chin. However, the aim is for the raised sternum to meet the chin halfway.
  9. Keep the centre of the head and chin in alignment with the middle of the sternum, the belly, and the perineum. Avoid tilting the head. Continue holding your breath and this position for a few seconds
  10. Relax the temples (side of the head, just behind the eyes), and keep the eyes and ears passive – This is Jālandhara Bandha. To release the lock, raise your head and exhale.

Additional pointers for Chin Lock –  Jālandhara Bandha

Essentially, you are flexing the neck, so the chin is tucked into the suprasternal notch. This is the dip at the top of the sternum between the clavicles, the little concavity above the sternum at the pit of the throat.

Ideally, it’s performed alongside prāṇāyama and mūdra. If done on its own it would be after āsana, and prāṇāyama and before meditation. The duration of the bandha can be kept for as long as comfortable for the practitioner. Remember to maintain a count, and gradually you can increase the count. And once confident repeat this up to 5 times.

BKS Iyengar suggests that it clears the nasal passages. And regulates the flow of blood and prāṇā (energy) to the heart and the endocrine glands in the neck (thyroid and parathyroid). Protecting the brain, eyes, and inner ears from the internal pressure of the retained breath.

According to Swami Satyananda Saraswatī (Āsana, Prāṇāyama, Mūdra, Bandha), this practice is performed during internal retention. Though it can also be done with external breath retention.

Bandhas are taught as part of the yoga teacher training programmes. 

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