Bandha means to lock, close-off, to stop. In the practice of a Bandha, the energy flow to a particular area of the body and remains there blocked for a while. When the Bandha is released, this causes the energy to flood more strongly through the body with an increased power.
There are four types of Bandhas:
Mula Bandha - Anal Lock
Uddiyana Bandha - Lifting of the Diaphragm
Jalandhara Bandha - Chin Lock
Maha Bandha - Practice of all three Bandhas at the same time.
Generally, the breath is held during practice of the Bandhas. Mula Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha can be performed after the inhalation as well as after the exhalation. Uddiyana Bandha and Maha Bandha are only performed after the exhalation.
As the Bandhas momentarily stop the flow of blood, there is an increased flow of fresh blood with the release of the Bandha, which flushes away old, dead cells. In this way all the organs are strengthened, renewed and rejuvenated and circulation is improved.
Bandhas are also beneficial for the brain centres, the Nadis and the Chakras. The energy channels are purified, blockages released and the exchange of energy is improved. Bandhas alleviate stress and mental restlessness and bring about inner harmony and balance.