Jalandhara bandha is one of the body lock positions used in yoga. There are three main body locks, each one contracting different muscles and forcing the practitioner to focus inward to alter the way energy flows though the body. In general, people who perform jalandhara bandha align the vertebrae of the cervix and the thorax so that energy can flow more freely into the cranium. It is also called the net-bearer bond, throat lock, or neck lock.
To engage jalandhara bandha, the practitioner will typically sit with her legs crossed and her back straight. Next, she will open and elevate her chest. Then, she will slowly let her head drop so that her chin rests on her elevated chest. Most practitioners try to pull the crook of the neck upward toward the head and the top of the spine. Generally, the shoulders should be relaxed, not tensed.
On a basic level, jalandhara bandha will tone the back and neck. It will also help with posture. Some people believe that it will help cure ailments that affect the throat as well. Other practitioners believe that it will balance the metabolism, help with respiratory illnesses and improve the circulatory system.
For people interested in the chakra system, jalandhara bandha affects the fifth chakra, or the throat chakra. In general, the fifth chakra is related to expression, communication, and fluent thought. Some people believe that when this chakra is imbalanced, it comes across as an ear, nose, throat, or respiratory problem in the body. They further believe that when this chakra is balanced through body locks such as jalandhara bandha then those ailments can be healed.
Many people transition from this basic body lock to other activities affecting the throat chakra. For example, they may study the colors or use certain crystals to balance the chakra. They also might chant mantras or enter into other poses, such as dhanurasana, or bow pose, and paschimottanasana, or forward bend.
Although performing jalandhara bandha may seem relatively easy, it should be done with care. In particular, if the pose causes neck pain or strain, it should not be performed. Some people find it easier if they surround their necks with a thin towel to lend extra support. In addition, the practitioner should remember to lift her chest to meet her chin, preventing undue strain. If the chin is left to drop without lifting the chest, it may be both uncomfortable and injurious.