Bandhas are a series of physical locks that are applied to hold, tighten or lock the prana (life force) in the body so it may be redirected to specific pranic channels in the subtle body. Traditionally there are four bandhas used in hatha yoga and these are known as:
Mudras are a combination of subtle physical movements that alter mood, attitude and perception which leads the practitioner to a deeper level of awareness and concentration. Some mudras are performed with a simple hand gesture, while others are more complex involving asana, pranayama, bandha and visualization. Mudras are generally introduced to students when they have gained some experience in the practice of asana, pranayama and bandha as these techniques will ensure that all blockages have been removed prior to learning the powerful techniques of mudra.
Mudras fall into five different categories and they include:
Hand Mudras, Head Mudras, Postural Mudras, Lock Mudras, Perineal Mudras.
We can now begin to see that proper breathing practices and regulation of the flow of the breath is central to all yogic practices and great emphasis is placed on the importance of pranayama to bring about balance and harmony of body, breath, mind and spirit resulting in a state of optimum health and wellbeing.
Prana, the vital breath, is born of the Self:
Like a person and his shadow, the Self and Prana are inseparable. Prana enters the body at the time of birth, so the desires of the mind, continuing from past lives, can be fulfilled.