The bandhas are locks applied to the body in yoga that direct the prana and apana. The locks are basic to Kundalini Yoga, allowing an equilibrium to be established that has an enormous impact on the whole human system. There are three main bandhas – jalandhar bandh – neck lock, uddiyana bandh – diaphragm lock, and mulbandh – root lock. When all three locks are applied together, with the correct posture and concentration, it is known as mahabandh – the great lock. In talking about the locks, Yogi Bhajan said:
"It is a fundamental law of most exercises in Kundalini Yoga that you will apply mulbandh, though it is not asked for in detail in all instances. You will be told to put yourself in a posture with a certain sound current and a certain breathing pattern. But all the kriyas have certain things in common which are assumed. First is the proper posture and second the locks. You are required to apply these three locks properly and appropriately. Then one is said to be in the state of mahabandh— the great lock. This yoga was designed carefully by saints and masters and is the fastest route to elevation and happiness."
Mulbandh is the most complex of the three body locks. It coordinates, stimulates, and balances the energies of the first, second, and third chakras. It redirects excess sexual energy into creativity and healing, and if there is a lack of sexual vitality it will help correct it. This bandh is frequently applied at the end of a kriya to crystalize its effects. The application of mulbandh has three parts:
- First, contract the anal sphincter. Feel the muscles lift upward and inward.
- Once these muscles tighten, contract the area around the sex organ. This is experienced as a slight lift and rotation inward of the pubic bone.
- Then contract the lower abdominal muscles and the navel point towards the spine.
These three actions applied together in a smooth, rapid flow is the mulbandh. This lock can be applied with the breath retained in or out. The key effect of the mulbandh is the blending of the prana and apana at the navel center. It stimulates the proper flow of spinal fluid and begins the transformation of the gross to the subtle. Guruprem Singh says about mulbandh:
“The trick, with time and practice, is to learn to refine this lock so that only the muscles necessary to hold the lock are contracted. The perineum is located between the anus and the genitals. Learning to isolate the perineum when doing mulbandh is important because of the nerve structure of the body. The perineum is like a crossroads for many nerves and when it is properly balanced and stimulated it can send impulses from the first chakra up through the spinal cord.”