The term Hatha Yoga has been commonly used to describe the practice of
asana (postures). The syllable 'ha' denotes the pranic (vital) force
governing the physical body and 'tha' denotes the chitta (mental) force
thus making Hatha Yoga a catalyst to an awakening of the two energies
that govern our lives. More correctly the techniques described in Hatha
Yoga harmonise and purify the body systems and focus the mind in
preparation for more advanced chakra and kundalini practices.
The Hatha Yoga system includes asana along with the six shatkarmas
(physical and mental detox techniques), mudras and bandhas
(psycho-physiological energy release techniques) and Pranayama (pranic
awakening practices). Fine tuning of the human personality at
increasingly subtle levels leads to higher states of awareness and
1. Yogasana (yoga
2. Six shatkarmas (physical and mental detox techniques)
3. Mudras and Bandhas (psycho-physiological energy release techniques)
4. Pranayama (pranic awakening practices)
• SIX SHATKARMAS
Cleansing Processes (Shatkarmas) - Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga describes Shatkarmas (six processes) in details for Body
purification and mind purification. Various asanas (Yoga Positions), six
shatkarmas, mudras & bandhas (psychic knots or psycho-physiological
energy release techniques) and Pranayama are described in old ancient
sanskrit texts of Hatha Yoga (Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gherandasamhita).
Yoga has considered internal purification of the human body in depth. The
shuddhikriyas (Cleansing Process) have been planned with a view to have
total purification of the body before various samskaras are made thereon
for baking the body in the fire named Yoga so as to turn the body into a
ripe vehicle. The organs where there can be a lot of impurities require
these shuddhikriyas. The internal organs, which come into contact with
the external matters regularly, need to be purified. The trachea
regularly comes into contact with the external air, the food pipe comes
into contact with the external food products, and the mind comes into
contact with the thoughts of the external world; these and such other
organs need to be purified internally. Hence the shuddhikriyas. Certain
elements are cured with these kriyas. Ayurveda has described these
shuddhikriyas by the name of Panchkarmas. However, these panchkarmas take
help of certain medicines and herbs. In the shuddhikriyas stated in Yoga,
the emphasis is on the natural method. Many shuddhikriyas have been
described in the Yoga texts. We will consider some of them in this
syllabus. Direct study of these shuddhikriyas is expected over here.
While studying shuddhikriyas, one should consider the important
difference in other yogic processes and the shuddhikriyas. Other yogic
processes invariably form part of the daily activity of the human life,
but these shuddhikriyas are not to be practiced daily. In fact they are
not meant as part of the daily routine. When it is necessary to purify
the body, these kriyas may be practiced daily, but when the need is over,
the practice is stopped. It cannot generally be stated over here, when
the need arises. It depends on each and every individual hence, the
processes will be taught over here, but they are not to be practiced
daily, but according to the duration which each individual may need. The
duration may be different for each shuddhikriya. The detailed description
of each shuddhikriya is given but it is enough to remember that
shuddhikriyas are not to be practised like asanas and pranayam in
Different methods of Cleansing Process (Shudhikriyas)
• Bandhas and Mudras in Pranayama
Bandh is a special characteristic of Hatha Yoga. The various types of
bandhas have been described in Yoga texts. However none of them defines
the term "Bandh" as such. The three types of bandhas, viz Jalandhar Bandh,
Uddiyan Bandh and Mul Bandh have been described in many of the ancient
texts. With the help of these descriptions, an attempt may be made to
define the bandhas. Bandh may be defined as a particular action involving
pressure or strain on the muscles. It is expected in Yoga to retain a
firm pose in bandh as it is retained in the asanas. The bandhas are to be
studied mainly while studying pranayama.
There are three types of Bandha's :-
It is difficult to explain why this bandh is known as Jalandhar Bandh.
However, one may guess that Rishi Jalandhar might have defined the act of
this bandh for the first time, and the same was named after him. (In Yoga,
sometimes the actions are known by the name of the Rishis, such as
Matsyendrasan, Gorakshasan etc.)
If we try to trace the meaning of the word Jalandhar, " Jal" means "Net",
in this case, net of Nadis (energy channels) and the word "Dhar" means to
stop or to hold the flow of the fluid (Amrut), flowing through the nadis.
However, let us understand the action behind this bandh instead of
discussing its name or origin.
Action : Pre-position
bandh can be achieved without getting into any asana pose. But generally,
it is studied in Padmasan or any other asana specified for Dhyana Process.
Padmasan or Siddhasan are considered as the best positions to practise this
To perform the Bandh
In this bandh, it is expected to contract the muscles of the neck and to
press the chin firmly on to the depression at the end of the throat
The neck is to be bent a little for achieving this bandh.
it should not be bent much. It is to be pressed onto the depression just as
a spring is pressed with a little force. The release of the force brings
the spring back into normal position. The same principle is to be applied
in this bandh. Since all the muscles of the neck and the throat are
contracted totally, a force is exerted onto the seven paths in the throat.
The presence of the force interferes with the breathing process. Hence,
this bandh is to be attained after Pooraka and is to be released before
Rechaka. The bandh is necessary in Kumbhaka.
Nowhere, the effects of this bandh on the body have been clearly defined.
However, effects can be enumerated on the basis of experiments carried out
at Kaivalyadham, Lonavala and other observations while teaching and
studying this bandh.
Due to the particular action of the neck required to achieve this bandh, it
is pressed forward and the spinal cord gets a little bit lifted upwards.
The force of this action is felt on the spinal cord. Spinal cord has the
utmost importance in the control of the body. With this force, the
circulation of blood increases thereby increasing the efficiency of the
The bandh also affects "Vidyan Nadi" which passes through the neck. It is
the only blood vessel passing below the neck. It is divided into two parts,
which move towards the brain. These are known as Carotid Arteries. These
arteries pass from both the sides of the neck to the brain. The beats of
the heart can be easily felt if the neck is bent backwards, the pulse is
felt on both the sides below the jaw. The area where the blood vessel is
divided into two parts is a little bit flat and is known as Carotid Sinus.
The wall covering Carotid Sinus is thin and can easily get affected by
inner or outside pressure. The nerve passing from here to the brain is
known as Carotid Nerve. It goes high up into the skull and then down into
the brain. This nerve is related to internal carotid, external carotid and
carotid sinus. The pressure exerted on this nerve is transmitted to the
brain. The pressure can be exerted from outside too. This process is
attempted in the Jalandhar Bandh. Due to the peculiar position of the neck,
the pressure is exerted on carotid sinus and the nerves are activated to
send a signal to the brain. The brain activates its machinery to lower the
blood pressure, so that the muscles of the heart start functioning slowly.
The heart beats are reduced. The reason why this happens is that the
position of the bandh lessens the blood supply to the carotid artery. The
reduction in the blood supply to the brain slows down the body activities
and the practitioner can observe the complete stillness of body and mind.
But to achieve this position, the bandh has to be practised for a number of
years. After putting in enough practice, the yogasadhaka can achieve such
elated state of mind wherein he can forget the outside world and even the
awareness of his own body. Most of the functions of the body are stopped
and the sadhaka can progress towards samadhi. However, with even a little
bit of study and practice of this bandh, sadhaka can achieve calm and quiet
mind devoid of any thoughts and the nearly lifeless body. The state is
The messages are passed on from carotid sinus to that centre in the brain
which regulates the blood pressure. The pressure on the carotid sinus is
transmitted to the brain in the form of messages and accordingly the blood
pressure is reduced. This is the plan of the nature to reduce the increased
blood pressure. In pranayam, there is a possibility of increasing the blood
pressure while performing Kumbhaka. Hence, achieving Jalandhar Bandh before
Kumbhaka automatically results in controlling the bloodpressure. This is a
major benefit of Jalandhar Bandh.
There is another important benefit of this bandh. The bandh is advised in
Pranayam after Pooraka. Kumbhaka is observed after Pooraka. At the time of
observing Kumbhaka , the increased pressure on the inhaled air, results in
air trying to find out an escape route. Since the usual path of escape i e
the nostrils are closed, the air tries to enter eustachian tube and finds a
way behind the ear drums. The increased pressure on the eardrums is not
advisable and can cause a lot of complaints. However, the position of the
pressed neck in Jalandhar Bandh stops this inhaled air from entering into
these routes and the eardrums are saved from the ill effects.
This bandh is to be observed after Pooraka and before Kumbhaka. After
Kumbhka, the bandh is to be released before practising Rechaka. Hence, the
duration of Kumbhaka is the duration for this bandh too. Instead of
practising this bandh independently, it is to be practised while practising
The bandh is not to be practised by persons suffering from breath related
problems or high or low bloodpressure, unless advised by the experts in the
field. During Pranayam, the bandh is to be observed after Pooraka. Rechaka
is to be practised after Kumbhaka, after releasing the bandh. Rechaka
should not be observed while being in this bandh.
This bandh involves movement of the muscles of the stomach and especially
the muscles of the diaphragm. The movement is important and
characteristic. Hathayoga assigns a special importance to Uddiyan Bandh.
The study of Pranayam is not complete without studying this bandh. While
performing this bandh, the muscle of the diaphragm is stretched in upward
direction; hence this bandh is termed as Uddiyan Bandh. Also, this bandh
is useful for awakening of Kundalini Shakti while making spiritual
progress, hence it may have been termed as Uddiyan Bandh.
The bandh involves action of muscles of the stomach and hence it may be
performed while being in Standing Pose or Sitting Pose. The bandh can
also be performed while being in Padmasan, Siddhasan, Vajrasan and while
practising pranayam. Or it may be performed independently while being in
these asanas too. However, for the new entrants in the field, it is
advisable to study the bandh, while being in standing pose. It is easier
to learn this bandh while in standing pose and it can be performed
effectively too. Hence, here the bandh has been explained while being in
To perform the bandh
Stand up with distance of 1 to 1.5 feet between the legs
a little in the knees and place left palm on the left knee and right palm
on the right knee.
Bend the shoulders a little towards the front and the neck also towards
the front so that the weight of the body is shifted onto the knees
hands. This reduces the strain on the stomach and the muscles of the
stomach can be relaxed.
Inhale deeply and then exhale gradually.
While exhaling, try to shift the muscles of the stomach towards inner
side. Lift up the ribs a little bit and push the muscles from within with
a gentle push towards the upward direction. The muscles of the stomach
must be relaxed at this time, so that they can be pushed up. This results
in muscles of diaphragm being pushed upwards. This is the final stage of
Uddiyan Bandh. Try to remain firmly in this pose. This pose is to be
retained when the breath is fully exhaled. When there is an urgent need
to inhale, the bandh must be released gradually as under.
Releasing the bandh pose
Relax the muscles of the stomach so that they are slowly released back to
the normal position. Diaphragm will also be released to the normal pose.
Relax the pressure in the shoulders and neck area and start inhaling
After inhaling completely, bring back the hands into the normal pose and
straighten out the bent knees.
Join both the legs together and come back into the standing pose.
Important aspects of the bandh
The pose involves pressure on the knees with the help of both the hands
and retaining a firm pose with a particular pressure on the neck and
shoulder muscles. The weight of the body is shifted onto the knees due to
the pose. This relaxes the muscles of the stomach and the diaphragm. In
this position, the muscles of the stomach are pushed inwards and the
muscles of the diaphragm are pushed upwards. The ribs are lifted up a
little bit and the chest is broadened. All these actions are performed
simultaneously. However, the pose is to be attained after exhaling the
breath completely. An attempt is made to inhale without actually inhaling
the air into the lungs. This attempt results in expanding the ribs but as
the air is not inhaled, the diaphragm is pushed upwards. This is the main
part to be achieved while in this bandh. The stomach is pulled in and the
navel pushed upwards. Further the muscles of the stomach must be relaxed
while in this bandh. The more the relaxation, the better the performance
of the bandh.
During this bandh, the stomach is taken considerably inside and a vacuum
is created in it. A little bit bending of the shoulders in forward
direction will prove useful for this bandh. Once the pose is achieved, it
is essential to be in that pose for some time. However, all this time,
the breath must be exhaled. The pose is to be retained after exhalation
of the breath and till the time an urge is felt for inhalation. When the
urge is felt, all the muscles should be gradually relaxed and brought
back to the original position and then the breath should be inhaled.
Inhalation should not take place before bringing the muscles to the
The diaphragm is moved to a great extent in this bandh, hence the muscles
of the diaphragm get well exercised and this movement also helps in the
regular breathing. When the strength and the efficiency of diaphragm is
improved, the breathing system also works more efficiently. Also, it is
discovered after research that the organs in the stomach develop a
negative pressure in this Uddiyan bandh. Due to such negative pressure,
the blood supply to these organs is improved. The difference between the
negative pressure during this bandh and the normal pressures resumed
after relaxation, increases friction on the internal organs such as
stomach, small intestines, liver etc. thereby improving their efficiency.
This also results in improving the secretion of the digestive juices. The
bandh involves movement, as if one is inhaling, however actual air is not
inhaled, hence this creates negative pressure on the lungs and the heart.
This also results in affimproving their efficiency. Due to this negative
pressure, the blood circulation in the heart is increased. The bandh also
helps in improving the digestive system. It may also be affecting several
other organs of the body. However, further research is necessary to find
out all such effects.
It is stated in various ancient texts that apart from these benefits, the
bandh is also useful for spiritual progress and awakening of Kundalini
power. The bandh is indispensable for the study of pranayama. The air
pressure resulting in pranayama is regulated in proper direction due to
the position of this bandh. Otherwise, such pressures can create harmful
effects on the body. Hence, this bandh is indispensable in pranayama.
The bandh action is to be performed after exhaling completely. The proper
duration for the bandh is the time for which it can be retained
comfortably but firmly after exhalation and without inhaling. Inhalation
should not be immediate after releasing the bandh pose. The inhalation
i.e. pooraka after releasing the bandh has to be in a controlled manner.
Hence, the bandh is to be retained till the time it can be easily
retained after complete rechaka. After releasing the bandh, the pooraka
should be performed gradually. In the initial stages, the bandh cannot be
maintained even for 10 to 15 seconds. However, after proper practice, it
can be firmly maintained for 1 to 2 minutes. If after achieving bandh
pose, all the other muscles of the body are relaxed, the bandh can be
maintained for a little more duration. Because in a relaxed state of the
body, the need for oxygen is reduced and the oxygen present in the body
can be used up for a little more time. Hence, the bandh duration can also
Persons suffering from stomach ailments, heart troubles or defective
blood circulation should not attempt to perform the bandh. Persons
suffering from diseases like hernia too should not perform this bandh.
While performing Uddiyan bandh, it is to be performed after exhalation.
This is the proper method while studying this bandh independently.
However, while practising this bandh during pranayama, the pose of the
bandh is to be taken while being in kumbhaka.
This bandh relates mainly to the muscles of the anus, penis and the
muscles located nearby. The muladhar chakra is supposed to be located near
penis. Hence this bandh relates to muladhar chakra and is termed as
mulbandh. Also it relates to the base of the spine, this may be the other
reason for naming it as such because 'mul' means root or base.
If the bandh is to be performed ideally it should be performed in
Siddhasan. Otherwise it may also be performed in Padmasan. But Siddhasan
is supposed to be the ideal preposition. Action of the bandh
After sitting in Siddhasan, the left heel is properly placed under the
penis. The weight of the body creates pressure on that part. After
achieving a firm pose, the anal muscles and the other surrounding muscles
should be contracted and moved upwards. This is the pose of the mulbandh.
The anus has two muscles. One inside and the other outside. Both these
muscles are round. It is expected in this bandh to contract these muscles
and to lift them upwards. However, these muscles alone are not to be
contracted and lifted but the other surrounding muscles should also be
similarly contracted and lifted. The muscles of the penis are also to be
lifted in this bandh. Achieving pose in this bandh is easier, however it
is important to be in the same pose for a while. This is difficult and
requires quite a bit of practice.
The muscles which are not generally used, are contracted in this bandh.
This results in more blood supply to these muscles thereby improving their
efficiency. This is the obvious benefit of this bandh. Also, the muscles
surrounding Muladhar Chakra are contracted and the pressure of such
contraction is definitely felt on the Muladhar Chakra. Kundalini power,
which is supposed to be residing at the chakra, is awakened due to the
practice of this bandh. However, it cannot be definitely stated as to the
duration for which the bandh is to be practised for such awakening of the
Kundalini power. The beneficial effect of this bandh is also felt on the
nerves attached to the muscles involved in the bandh. It is stated that
the bandh is to be practised while doing Pranayam. While performing
pranayam, the blood is accumulated around the waist. Practice of this
bandh results in circulation of this accumulated blood.
The real study and practice of this bandh is to retain it for maximum
period. A duration of 5 to 120 seconds may not generate beneficial effects
of this bandh. The bandh has to be retained for at least 3 to 4 minutes.
With further practice, the duration can be increased to 5 minutes.
If the bandh is not performed properly, it can affect the digestive system
in a bad way. This results in indigestion or similar other ailments of the
digestive system. Hence, the bandh should be practised under expert
Persons suffering from hernia, piles etc should not as far as possible
perform this bandh. If such a person wants to perform this bandh, onset of
any symptoms described above should be immediately reported to experts and
the bandh performed under their guidance.