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Important Terms to Know in Kundalini Yoga

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

(Photo of Mahavatar Babaji, Guru whom passed down this ancient Himalayan practice of the Parampara Lineage)

These are some of the most commonly used and essential practices in Kundalini Yoga. Begin to get acquainted with these before class. If you are brand new to this practice, do not worry - you do not have to memorize any terms, as I will explain each one before it is performed.


Bandhas are energy locks performed with the perinium, naval, and throat. It helps to remove the three Granthis - the 3 major locks in Yogic Science that prevent us from spiritual ascension, which can be further explained here.

Mula Bandha - (Root Lock)

Mula = “root”, “origin”, “foundation”. The foundation of kundalini energy and our whole physical life. It is located at the perineum.

How to Perform: Squeeze the Anus, hold.

Benefits: Contracting the anal sphincter allows kundalini energy from the mooladhara (root chakra) to activate and begin to rise up. This technique brings up the apana vayu, downward wind within the body which is responsible for elimination and release. It works directly on the Brahma Granthi, which governs our security in the material realm. As energy begins to be manipulated through the body to defy gravity and rise, this channeled prana removes the energetic blockages that are preventing one from spiritual ascension.

Uddiyana Bandha - (Naval Lock)

Uddiyana = “Flying up”. Located just above the naval, beneath the respiratory diaphragm.

How to Perform: Exhale completely, suck the navel into the spine then up into the ribcage. Arms remaining straight, use the hands on the knees to support a maintained straight spine throughout this practice.

Benefits: Brings energy up into the heart, removing the Vishnu Granthi, massaging heart muscles and removing energetic blockages here relating to grief and attachment.

Jalandhara Bandha - (Throat Lock)

Jala = “throat”, Dhara = “stream”. Located at the throat, relating to our vocal diaphragm.

How to Perform: Contract the throat and neck with ease, draw the chin to the chest in the notch between the collar bones.

Benefits: Improves breath retention capacity, functioning of the thyroid gland, and removes the Rudra granthi which prevents the self being aligned with the cosmos.

Maha Bandha - (TriBandha, All Three Locks)

Maha = “great”, “supreme”

How to Perform: Exhale completely, root lock, naval lock, and chin lock. Hold. To release, first release navel lock, then root lock, then finally, chin lock by lifting the chin up.

Benefits: This is a very powerful practice. Drawing the energy from the root up, and locking at the chin, this creates a rapid movement of prana between mooladhara to vishuddhi. The analogy used is, imagine there is a dirty water bottle. We take water (prana), close the cap (throat lock) and shake it to purify the energy within the central channel, so it clears sushumna for kundalini to rise. More info can be read about sushumna here.


Kapalbhati Pranayama - (Breath of Fire)

Kapal = “skull”, Bhati = “illuminate”

How to Perform: Forceful, rhythmic inhalation and exhalation through the nostrils. Naval pumps in and out. Breath must travel all the way down to the diaphragm for maximum benefit.

Benefits: Oxygenates the blood stream, removes sleepiness, purifies the mind.

Bhastrika Pranayama - (Bellows Breath)

Bhastrika = Bellows

How to Perform: Long, deep inhalation and exhalation, no pause in between.

Ujjayi Pranayama - (Ocean Breeze)

Ujjayi = “one who is victorious”

How to Perform: Slightly condense the throat, creating an “ocean breeze” sound when breathing. Breath is long and deep, through the nostrils.


Breath Retention, often works with bandhas to control prana and pierce through energy blockages.

Bahya Kumbhaka -

Outer Breath Retention

How to Perform: Deep Exhalation, Hold.

Antar Kumbhaka -

Inner Breath Retention

How to Perform: Deep Inhalation, Hold.


Shambhavi Mudra -

Shambhavi = “the eyebrow center gazing”

How to Perform: Eyes can be slightly opened or closed, drawn up at the third eye, the center of the forehead between the eyebrows.

Nasikagra Drishti

Nasikagra Drishti = “Gazing at the tip of the nose”

How to Perform: Eyes can be slightly opened or closed, eyes gaze down at the tip of the nose.

Kechari Mudra

Kechari = “one who moves the sky”

How to Perform: Curl the tip of the tongue back towards the throat into the roof of the mouth, until it reaches the soft palate. With the tongue, press here firmly, stimulating connection to the bindu chakra and creating bliss states with strengthened connection to the supreme.

Regular person can perform the First or Second stage shown in the diagram, Yogi can perform the Third to Final stage.

Ashwini Mudra

Ashwini = “Horse”, Mudra = “Gesture”

How to Perform: Similar to Mula Bandha, except instead of holding, we squeeze/relax, squeeze/relax rhythmically, pulsing our perineum. This stimulates shakti energy at the mooladhara, and activated the sexual center, svadisthana as well.

If you are interested in live instruction, you can sign up for individual coaching or class here.

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Beautifully written and explained! Thank you!

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