The Sanskrit word bandha means to; “Hold”, “Tighten”, or, “Lock” . (*1)
In essence the aim of a bandha is to lock the prana or life force in the body into particular areas and redirect their flow into the sushumna nadi.
The three most well known bandhas include: The Root Lock:
Moola Bandha; Uddiyana Banda, The Abdominal Lock; and Jalandhara Banda, The Throat Lock.
When all three bandhas are performed, after an exhalatin; Jalandhara, Uddiyana and Moola Bandha, in that order, the great lock is created known as Maha Bandha. Hold for as long as is comfortable without straining and then release Moola, Uddiyana and Jalandhara Bandha, in that order. The great Banda should not be performed until the individual babdhas are mastered. Maha bandha is called the great lock as it combines all the three bandhas in one practice. It also gives enhanced benefits of all three bandhas. It is said to reduce the degenerative ageing process and every cell of the body is rejuvenated. When perfected it is said to fully awaken prana in the main chakras. (*1)
A not so well known bandha is Pada Bandha, the foot lock. The foot lock is said to draw energy from the earth, at the centre of the foot and into the foreleg. (*2) In Tadasana ground the feet, spread the toes, then lift them. This makes you more aware of the four corners of the foot. Feel the four points of the foot grounding into the floor and then lower the toes so that they are long and active. You will notice that the four arches naturally begin to lift, (two on each foot). This is Pada Bandha. Allow the forces coming up from the earth to travel up the foreleg between the bones all the way up to your hip joints. (*2). Activating Pada Bandha gives the leg length and energy.
*1. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
*2 Adapted from Pada Bandha by jsbodywork and Mark Stevens.