In the Hatha Yoga tradition, amrita is a nectar stored in a subtle centre in the head “the lake of the mind”. It slowly drips into the digestive fire, jatharagni, and is gradually consumed. When it is exhausted, there is no fuel left to maintain life and death occurs.
Yogis attempt to preserve this essence of life by various methods. The chin lock known as Jalandhara Bandha is the yoga technique that regulates the flow of amrita. The amrita flows through a passage between the nose and the throat and this bandha regulates its flow, thus extending life.
The benefits of this practice stated in the Hatha-Yoga-Pradipika are freedom from disease, a superior body with strength and vigour, and prevention of aging. The practice aligns the spine, brings the chakras to their correct location and cleans a number of important nadis (subtle channels). For advanced Yogis, it is said to give immortality and the eight siddhi (supernormal powers).
According to another Yoga text, Goraksha-Paddhati, jalandhara bandha binds the sira (channel network), and prevents the amrita (ambrosial liquid) from flowing to the trunk. It also cures throat diseases.
The Yoga Rahasya of Nathamuni tells us that through this bandha a man never loses his virility and reproductive disorders in women are resolved. It prevents diseases of the heart, eyes, nose and ears. The vital airs (vayu) will not become disturbed which would prevent many diseases.
Sri T. Krishnamacharya says that practice of jalandhara bandha awakens the kundalini. (Yoga Makaranda p.46).
Some recommended seated postures for practising jalandhara bandha are padmasana, vajrasana, dandasana, baddha konasana, siddhasana and bhadrasana.
Taking one of these seated yoga posture with a level base, the spine is erect and the chin is then placed in the hollow between the two clavicles. While inhaling, the head is lifted slightly. Once the inhale is complete, the chin is drawn fully down again and held here until the start of the next inhale.
When taking the shoulderstand (sarvangasana) position, the neck will be completely stretched and the chin locked into place on the chest, so providing a very firm jalandhara bandha. The additional advantage of this asana is that the inverted position maintains the amrita in its place in the head. This is one of the reasons that this asana is conducive to youthfulness and longevity.
The body must be prepared for this bandha. The neck will have to be stretched using asana such as two-foot-support (dvi-pada-pitham). Other postures to practise are forward bend (uttanasana), downward dog (adho-mukha-svanasana), staff pose (dandasana) and (maha-mudra). If one has a thick neck due to excess weight then this will need to be reduced by diet and practice of appropriate asana.
The bandha must not be practised after eating or after drinking a lot of water and one must not talk.
While in jalandhara bandha, the tongue lock (jivha-bandha) can also be practised. The tongue is curled and the underside pressed behind the front teeth. This also helps to achieve the preservation of amrita and helps to control the activities of the tongue, specifically eating and talking.
These two bandhas restrain the senses from going outwards, confine the prana in the body and conserve the amrita. Conserving these vital forces gives health, vigour and longevity. Yogis point out that ordinary mortals waste their amrita because they do not know its secrets.
Wishing you health, peace and a hundred autumns on earth.