How to Do Throat Lock (Jalandhara Bandha) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

throat lock
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Also Known As: Chin Lock

Targets: Throat chakra, meditation

Level: Beginner

Throat Lock (Jalandhara Bandha) is one of the three interior "locks" used in asana and pranayama practice to control and harness the flow of energy through the body. Working from the bottom up, the Root Lock (Mula Bandha), originates in the pelvis. Abdominal Lock (Uddiyana Bandha) is the lower torso. Throat Lock can be practiced alone or in conjunction with the other two. When practiced together, the three locks are known as the Great Lock (Maha Bandha). Unlike the other two bandhas, the Throat Lock doesn't often come into use within an asana practice. The exception is in poses like Shoulderstand and Bridge, where bringing the chest toward the chin to create the Throat Lock is inherent to the posture itself. It's more commonly done as part of seated breath work.

Benefits

Throat Lock a powerful stretch for the neck, an area that often holds tension and gets knotted up from looking at screens all day. Energetically, Jalandhara is connected to the throat (vishuddha) chakra. Clearing this chakra helps allow for better communication and self-expression. Physiologically, practicing the throat lock is thought to be beneficial for promoting thyroid health.

In "Light on Yoga" B.K.S. Iyengar describes it as "the first one the yogi should master." This is likely because Iyengar is coming at the subject from a pranayama perspective. As the focus of contemporary yoga has shifted toward the postural practice, Throat Lock is taught less frequently. Even Pattabhi Jois' Ashtanga method, which is known for its emphasis on bandhas, is primarily concerned with using mula and uddiyana during asana practice.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by sitting in a comfortable cross-legged position.

  1. Place your hands on your knees with the palms facing upwards. Inhale so your lungs are about two-thirds full, and then retain your breath.
  2. Drop your chin down and draw it back closer to your chest making a double chin. At the same time, lift your sternum towards your chin. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
  3. Hold as long as is comfortable and then lift your chin up and finish your inhalation before releasing the breath.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to get the most from this pose.

Chin

This pose involves both lowering the chin and raising the sternum. Ensure you are doing both equally. Don't force your chin into your sternum.

Holding Breath Too Long

Be sure to take an inhale while your head is upright. Hold the pose (and your breath) only for as long as you are able. Raise your head and inhale before you return to the pose.

Modifications and Variations

This pose can be practiced in different ways.

Need a Modification?

You have your choice of seated pose from which to do the Throat Lock. Any pose that stretches the knees outward and has a straight spine will do.

Up for a Challenge?

To practice in conjunction with the other two bandhas, first draw the pelvic floor upwards, engaging Mula Bandha. This leads to the abdomen drawing in and up under the ribcage in Uddiyana Bandha. Finally, the chin drops to the chest and draws back to complete the Maha Bandha.

With time, you should be able to hold this pose (and your breath) for longer and longer periods.

Safety and Precautions

As this posture involves holding the breath, it should not be done by anybody who has high blood pressure, a heart condition, or breathing problems. Use caution if you have any neck condition. If you feel dizzy or faint, resume breathing normally.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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Article Sources
  • Iyengar, B.K.S., Light on Yoga. Schochen Books: New York, NY; 1979.