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Five Pillars Yoga

Yoga 101: Jalandhara Bandha

Keep Your Chin Down and Your Heart Lifted

We’ve been exploring the bandhas in a series of interconnected posts. If you want to catch up, our 101s on Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha are here and here.

After the pelvic floor and the navel, we arrive at the chin.

Etymologically, Jalandhara Bandha breaks down to jal, Sanskrit for throat; jalan for net; and dharan for stream or flow. Jalandhara Bandha is the lock, or hold, that controls the flow of energy in the neck, throat, and chin.

This bandha’s corresponding chakra is Visuddha, the fifth chakra centered at the throat. Visuddha deals with openness and communication—how willing or able are you to speak your mind and practice Right Intention through speech and listening?

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Poses that expose the throat, like Ustrasana, and ones that draw energy in through constriction, like Shoulder Stand, are beneficial for opening a blocked fifth chakra. Jalandhara bandha happens naturally in throat-constricting poses: consider the double chin of Bridge or the immobility of the head, neck and throat in Halasana, Plow Pose.

While a chin lock is part of certain poses, Jalandhara bandha on its own is most commonly used as part of a pranayama practice. At the end of a round of Kapalabhati you retain the breath by engaging all the bandhas from the ground up, ending with a chin lock to keep any air from leaking out of the nose or mouth. Or, when practicing Uddiyana Bandha in a pose like Goddess, you would seal off the throat by bringing the chin and chest to meet. That’s Jalandhara bandha.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

How to Find Jalandhara Bandha

  • Sit tall in a comfortable pose.
  • Use your breath to fill and lift your sternum. On your exhale, draw your front ribs toward your spine.
  • Breathe in deeply to lift up the crown of the head and the roof of the mouth.
  • Retain the breath as you lower your chin to your sternum and lift your sternum to your chin.
  • Hollow the front of the throat by lengthening the back of your neck and releasing your shoulders.
  • Think of heart openers like Bridge or Wheel to find the complementary lift of the sternum.
  • If the chin and chest don’t meet, don’t force it.
  • Release the retention with a long, slow exhale.
  • On empty float the chin off and away from the chest.

Like all bandha practices, start slowly with Jalandhara and never retain breath to the point of discomfort. In addition to connecting you with your throat chakra and communication center, engaging Jalandhara bandha may help to regulate the circulatory and respiratory systems and balance our thyroid function and metabolism. And, as it’s an action that draws the gaze down and in it’s a quick way to calm the mind and remove ourselves from external stressors.

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 Images: How-to drawing;@riva_g_ in floating camel; extended bridge posethroat chakra symbol