Sanskrit name: jalandhara bandha
English name: throat lock (or chin lock)
Yogic limb: pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
The jalandhara bandha is one of the four great locks of the body, known as bandhas.
This ancient bandha has the power to bind the essence of all sensations by shifting the body’s flow of prana.
Watch this Jalandhar bandha video and then continue reading everything you need to know:
Table of Contents
What does jalandhara bandha mean?
The Sanskrit word Jalan means ‘net’, and Dhara means ‘stream’ or ‘flow’.
An alternate translation of jalandhara bandha is “upwards pulling net”. This refers to the way that it temporarily prevents the prana from moving from the torso.
In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a classic fifteenth-century Sanskrit manual on haṭha yoga, Svātmārāma explains,
“Contract the throat and press the chin firmly against the chest. This is called Jalandhara Bandha, which destroys old age and death.”
In essence, this bandha rejuvenates the whole being and cultivates vitality.
What is jalandhara bandha?
Jalandhara bandha is a lock that stimulates the throat chakra and is commonly practiced in hatha yoga.
Generally, the throat lock is considered suitable for a beginner’s practice. A yogi must master it in order to progress to more advanced locks.
Combining the throat lock with the other two bandhas, mula bandha and uddiyana bandha creates the Maha bandha. This is also known as the triple lock or the great lock. Bandhas should only be practiced and mastered alone before combining the locks.
Below you can see an image of a woman practicing maha bandha. You can see the abdominal lock. But of course, you can’t see the contraction of the pelvic floor creating the root lock.
What does jalandhara bandha do?
The jalandhara bandha prevents energy loss, by sealing prana from moving up and out of the body. Resting the chin between the collarbones restricts pranic flow.
In a study researching the benefits of the jalandhara bandha, the participants practiced the chin lock for eight weeks.
In addition, they observed participants that practiced jalandhara bandhas in conjunction with pranayama (breathing exercises).
The results showed a decreased sympathetic nervous system and increased peripheral blood flow. They also found a lowered heart rate and a relaxed body and mind.
Benefits of jalandhara bandha
The jalandhara bandha:
- Anatomically speaking, the throat lock closes the airways by contracting the throat muscles. It also increases blood circulation to the main arteries of the neck.
- Throat pressure gently balances the thyroid gland. This improves thyroid function and helps regulate metabolism. As well as other parts of the endocrine system, such as the parathyroid glands and pituitary gland.
- Stimulates the vagus nerve, which is a parasympathetic nerve. Hence, blood pressure, as well as heart rate, slow down.
- Compresses and stimulates the sinuses. This helps to regulate and balance the circulatory and respiratory systems.
- Stretches out the neck— an area where many people hold tension.
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- Relieves stress— by calming the nervous system. It also relaxes muscles, particularly in the shoulders, where many people hold tension.
- Relaxes the mind.
- The throat lock quickly relieves the feeling of anger and anxiety.
- The mind’s concentration capabilities improve.
- Enhances confidence and self-esteem.
- Boost self-expression through throat center activation.
- Stimulates the vishuddha chakra— responsible for communication, self-expression, and speaking your truth. Experience an improvement in the quality of your expression.
- Ether and space are closely linked to the vishuddha— the throat charka. Hence, the throat lock balances these two elements in the body.
How to practice jalandhara bandha: step-by-step instructions
Here are the 8 steps to master the jalandhara bandha technique:
- Sit in padmasana or siddhasana with the head and spine straight. The knees should be in contact with the floor.
- Close the eyes and relax the entire body. Next, start the seated breath work. Inhale deeply by taking a slow inhalation. Then retain and hold the breath (kumbhaka).
- During this retention, tilt the head forward. Press the chin to the chest, creating a double chin. Keep this chin position throughout. Now, lift the sternum— breastbone— towards your chin. Be mindful not to press the front ribs forwards.
- Straighten the arms, firmly touching the hands to the knees. Lift the shoulders upwards and forwards and allow internal pressure on the throat. For advanced yogis, apply mula bandha here as well.
- Focus your mind on the energy center in the throat – vishuddha chakra. This will help in creating energetic locks. You can also visualize energy moving upwards to the energy lock in the throat.
- Hold your breath as long as it is comfortable. A few seconds is plenty for beginners. For advanced longer periods of several minutes is attainable. When ready, lift your chin, allow the inhale to fill, and refresh your body.
- Relax the shoulders, and soften the arms and shoulders to release the lock. Raise the head and take an exhale.
- Option to repeat a maximum of five times once the breath has returned to normal.
Bonus tip: take Khecari mudra to strengthen the benefits of this lock even further. You can do this by curling the tip of your tongue back to the roof of your mouth.
Over time, you can begin to engage jalandhara bandha for more extended periods.
What asanas activate jalandhara bandha?
There are quite a few yoga postures that engage the jalandhara bandha. This lock, and the other bandhas, are highly beneficial as part of asana practice.
Think of it as an opportunity to bring more subtle yet powerful elements into your practice. Tapping into the energetic centers allows stagnant energy to shift. This brings the practitioner closer to Samadhi— or heightened states of pure consciousness.
This bandha is ideally performed with mudras, bandhas, and pranayamas. However, if practiced on its own, it should be performed after asanas and pranayamas and before meditation.
So here are yoga poses to incorporate jalandhara bandha into your yogic practices:
4. Viparita Karani
In which of the pranayama do we apply jalandhara bandha?
There is no dedicated jalandhara bandha pranayama, but it’s accompanied by other mudras, bandhas, asana, and pranayamas. Here are some common ones:
- Nadi shodana
- Anuloma viloma
Contraindications and safety
This throat lock is not suitable for those with the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiac issues— the lock reduces the blood pressure initially. Excess breath retention can strain the heart
- High intracranial pressure
- Breathing problems
- Neck injury
- Cervical Spondylosis
It is recommended to learn bandhas under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher. Here are some pointers to maximize safety within the lock:
- Avoid inhaling or exhaling until the head is lifted and the shoulders are relaxed. This is to protect from any pressure on the brain, eyes, and inner ears.
- Should any feelings of suffocation arise, immediately release the chin lock and take even breaths. Return to a sense of ease.
- It’s just as important to focus on lifting the breastbone as dipping the chin.
- Don’t press the chin in the clavicular notch— the meeting point of the collar bones. Instead, raise your shoulders and lock the arms straight in your seated position. Allow the chin to rest naturally between the collarbones.
So, we’ve taken the time to explore the theory and practice of the jalandhara bandha in-depth.
If you’re looking to broaden your knowledge, Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati is recognized internationally as one of the most complete yoga manuals today on bandhas.
You can read and download your free version of the PDF book from Bihar School of Yoga here.
If you want the newest revised edition, you can buy it here.
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* featured image illustration from the Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha book by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
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