The bandhas of ashtanga yogaThere are three internal muscular locks that bind up, lock in and store energy. This energy or chi in yoga is called prana. The first lock is the perineum lift called moola bandha. It involves tightening or lifting the muscles of the pelvic floor. This is the most important lock to learn as the other locks are difficult to perform without it. By incorporating this lock, the hips naturally
align themselves and the lumber spine is protected from hyperextension and injury. It may take up to a year for some yoga students to be able to perform moola bandha properly.

The next lock is called uddiyana bandha or abdominal lift. You learn to tighten the transverse, oblique and rectus abdominis muscles in order to strengthen your core. This lock allows the yoga student to connect the upper torso to the lower hips and legs, protecting the thoracic spine. Employing both locks is the key to internal strength. Try not to become frustrated; with practice
and patience it will all come together.

The last lock, called jalandhara bandha, is the easiest. It is mostly used in the seated postures to keep the back of the neck lengthened with the chin down towards the chest. This chin lock is used to lengthen the spine forward with the top of the head reaching towards the feet. Usually, it is employed along with the other two locks. The combination of all three locks is called maha bandha or great lock. It is used to build heat and powerful internal prana or chi in the midsection
in order to burn toxins and build strength.