What is Jalandhara Bandha?
Jalandhara Bandha literally translates to Upward Pulling Throat Net, but it is commonly referred to as the Throat Lock. As the name indicates, this Bandha is found at the base of the throat.
The Bandhas are a system of locks in your body to enhance your yoga practice by containing and directing your breath and energy. There are locks at the pelvis (Mula Bandha), abdomen (Uddiyana Bandha), and throat (Jalandhara Bandha). Additionally, there is Maha Bandha, which is when the other three Bandhas are used at the same time.
Unlike Mula Bandha, which is engaged throughout a yoga practice, Jalandhara Bandha is commonly integrated into a specific breathing practice. This means that you probably won’t be incorporating Jalandhara Bandha with many postures. However, you could use it in a breathing exercise before meditation.
Individuals who are pregnant, have high blood pressure, or have heart disease should not practice this Bandha. This is because pressure is applied to the carotid artery and other nearby blood vessels.
Benefits of Jalandhara Bandha
Because of its location at the throat, Jalandhara Bandha is know for:
- regulating the circulatory and respiratory systems,
- balancing the thyroid,
- increasing metabolism, and
- curing diseases of the throat.
No scientific studies have been performed to validate or refute these claims.
Engaging Jalandhara Bandha
- Begin in a comfortable seated position.
- Place your palms on your knees.
- Lift through the top of your head so that your spine is tall.
- Make sure that your shoulders are relaxed away from your ears and your sternum (breastbone) is lifted.
- Slowly inhale through your nose. Think about filling your lungs two-thirds of the way.
- Let your chin lower toward your sternum, then slide in toward your neck. Think about letting your chin and your sternum move toward each other to meet. But maybe they won’t meet. Maybe your chin won’t rest on your sternum, and that’s okay.
- Check that the back of your neck is long. If you feel a curve, your chin needs to come in closer to your neck.
- Let your shoulders relax and slightly round forward to help you get deeper into the throat lock.
- Hold this for as long as is comfortable.
- When you’re ready to exit this lock, finish your inhale (that addition one-third of your lung capacity) as you bring your head up to neutral position.
- Take some cleansing deep breaths.
- Repeat. You can do as many as 10 of these breaths in practice.
This Sounds Familiar
Those who study and practice Pilates may be thinking This sounds familiar. Yes, Head nods, anyone? It appears that, just like with Mula Bandha, Joseph Pilates attempted to integrate this into his workout.
If you read my article on Mula Bandha, you read that the Pilates industry has stopped cueing engagement of the pelvic floor (which is the Pilates way to engage Mula Bandha). They stopped cueing this because people were gripping their pelvic floor muscles so thoroughly that they were ripping from the bone.
So, here we are at Jalandhara Bandha (which resembles Pilates Head nods) and guess what! The Pilates community has relaxed its Head nod cueing because people were over-committing and getting cervical spine injuries.
I bring all of this up to emphasize that no matter which Bandha(s) you are practicing, practice with a trained professional to help avoid any muscle gripping or injury.
It seems that Jalandhara Bandha is not as common a topic as the other Bandhas. This is probably because it’s traditionally used in seated breathing exercises, as opposed to through your yoga practice.
That being said, Timothy Burgin wrote an informative article, “Jalandhara Bandha, the Throat Lock.”
I also really enjoyed Lauren Imparato’s article “Bandhas for Beginners: Intro to Yoga’s Interior Locks.”
Have you been in a class where you have used Jalandhara Bandha in breath work? How did it feel? Let us know in the comments below.
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