Mula Bandha - The Root Lock
Mula Bandha is a gentle contraction of certain muscles overlying the urogenital triangle including the perineum. The area of contraction is different for males and females.
The area of contraction for males lies between the anus and testes and for females the area of contraction lies behind the cervix where the uterus projects into the vagina. Developing sensitivity to this area can be quite difficult in the early stages of our practice of mula bandha but as our awareness of the muscles involved in the lifting of the perineum transpires we feel the energetic benefits of mula banda. On a physical level mula bandha gives us stability during the dynamic practice of ashtanga vinyasa and when our attention wanders we can always bring the mind back to the root lock, allowing our awareness to flourish once again.
In the early stages it is useful to just contract the anus slightly.
Uddiyana Bandha - Abdominal Lock
Uddiyana Bandha means "flying upward". When incorporated with ujjayi breathing which helps the chest lift and expand, the abdomen begins to lengthen . We will notice that the lower abdomen begins to draw in towards the spine without that much effort. In ashtanga vinyasa we do not perform this bandha fully, it is more of a holding of the abdomen just below the navel which will help us to become lighter as we practice. It also helps to move with gravity and give great stability during ashtanga vinyasa.
Uddiyana bandha also protects the lower back, keeping the spine long and stopping the back from bending beyond its capability.
Jalandhar bandha - Throat Lock
Jalandhar bandha is one of the three important Bandhas which are essentially required to be performed during Kumbhaka in Pranayama. We could not breath during our practice if we was to use this bandha, Instead we gently lower the chin inbetween our clavicle bones which can help reduce pressure going to the head when performing inversions.