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The Four Main Body Locks
These techniques consolidate the effects of a Kundalini Yoga practice and direct prana within the physical and energetic pathways to promote healing, energizing, and strengthening of the whole human being.
Neck Lock (Jalandhar Bandh)
What: Neck Lock is the most basic and most generally applied lock. It regulates gross and subtle movement in the upper part of the body.
How: Lift the chest and sternum up while lengthening the back of the neck, by pulling the chin toward the back of the neck. Neck, throat and face muscles remain relaxed.
When: All chanting meditation, most pranayama. Breath held in or out.
Why: Concentrates the secretions of the glandular system, thereby increasing their interconnection. Regulates blood pressure. Minimizes external distractions. Seals energy in the brain stem and moon center (chin). Directs pranic energy into the central channel, calming the heart.
Root Lock (MulBandh)
What: Root Lock is like a hydraulic lock at the base of the spine. It coordinates, stimulates, and balances the energies involved with the rectum, sex organs, and navel point (i.e. the lower three chakras).
How: Three actions are applied together in a smooth, rapid, flowing motion. First, contract and hold the muscles around the anus. Then contract and hold the muscles around the sex organ (like stopping the flow of urine). Finally, contract the muscles of the lower abdomen and the navel point toward the spine.
When: Frequently applied at the end of an exercise. Sometimes applied – continuously or rhythmically – throughout a meditation or exercise. Breath held in or out. Women on their moon cycle should not apply Root Lock.
Why: Crystallizes the effect of an exercise. Blends prana and apana at the navel center which, when mixed, opens the entrance to the sushmuna for energy to flow up the spine. Stimulates the proper flow of spinal fluid.
Diaphragm Lock (Uddiyana Bandh)
What: Diaphragm Lock vertically integrates emotions, pranic energy, and functions that occur above and below the diaphragm muscle. Tightness in this muscle – and the emotions it stores – can make this lock more difficult to achieve.
How: Inhale, then exhale completely. Pull the entire abdominal region up and back towards the spine. The navel point is not contracted although it will move upwards. Lift the chest while gently pressing the lower spine forward. When held properly, the “notch” at the base of the front of the throat becomes accentuated. Hold for 10 to 60 seconds without straining. Then relax the abdomen, gradually inhaling without releasing the Neck Lock or raising the chin.
For many people it is easier to practice this lock in a standing position. With the feet shoulder width apart, bend forward slightly, hands on knees and back straight. Lifting the chest slightly, apply the lock.
When: On an empty stomach. Held after breath fully exhaled.
Why: Massages intestines and heart muscle. Stimulates cleansing, promotes youthfulness. Strengthens the fire element, Third Chakra, and opens the Heart Chakra, resulting in increased kindness, compassion, and patience.
Great Lock (MahaBandh)
What: The Great Lock is part of the central infrastructure of Kundalini Yoga.
How: With the breath held out, apply all three locks (Neck, Diaphragm, and Root) simultaneously.
When: On an empty stomach. Held after breath fully exhaled. Done in various postures and with different mudras.
Why: Rejuvenates glands, nerves, and chakras. It is said to cure many ailments such as improper blood pressure, menstrual cramps, intestinal irregularity, and more.
[From Divine Alignment by GuruPrem Singh, and The Aquarian Teacher: KRI Teacher Training Textbook Level One]