This post is about Jalandhar Bandh, or neck lock. If you’d like to read more about the bandhas or body locks, read Part 1 here.
Unlike the root lock, neck lock is quite simple, so simple that I had been doing it without even realizing it. You probably have too. It is done during most meditations. When, in the meditation pose description, you hear lift your chest and tuck your chin, this is neck lock, simple as that.
How to do Neck Lock
Here’s a more detailed description (from The Aquarian Teacher Training Manual):
- sit comfortably with a straight spine
- lift the chest and sternum upward
- gently stretch the back of the neck straight by pulling the chin toward the back of the neck (in other words, “tuck your chin” as it is commonly described)
- the head is level and centered, the muscles of the neck, throat and face are loose and relaxed
- don’t force the head forward or down; your neck shouldn’t feel sore
What Neck Lock Does
- Just as the root lock helps contain and circulate the energy of the lower chakras so that energy can flow up, neck lock helps contain the energy of the upper chakras. Without neck lock, this energy could just kind of disperse willy-nilly through the upper body, but we want to direct it up through the central channel where it is most useful in awakening the kundalini energy.
- Neck lock calms the heart and creates a natural flow of energy
- It helps concentrate secretions from the pituitary, pineal and hypothalamus glands, and systematic practice of it can lead to creating an interconnectedness between these glands
- It makes it easier to focus on internal sensations and perceptions without distractions from the peripheral senses
- It prevents undue changes in blood pressure that can sometimes be induced by exercise and breathing. It acts as a safety valve that regulates that pressure by reducing dizziness that can result from a practice.
How to Experience Neck Lock
Neck lock can and should be done during all pranayam and meditations (unless otherwise specified). To experience neck lock you may want to do a few minutes of silent meditation, with the usual points of focus –breath, third eye, but also add the neck lock. Come back to this focus, checking in with your body to see if your head has moved out of the position. You can also engage the root lock as well, to experience the sensation both of these body locks has on your meditating mind and body.
The chin tuck is pretty slight. It may help to visualize bringing the chin down and in just until your neck is straight. There is this spot that just kinda feels right, so you may have to play around with it a bit. I had a teacher once use the analogy of a garden hose. We can think of our spine or that central channel as a garden hose. We want it nice and straight without any kinks in the hose, to let that energy flow up and out. That’s why we sit with a straight spin and tucking the chin creates that straight line at the top of the spine as well.
My head tends to slowly drift back up from the chin tuck. That’s why being conscious of this lock is important. In fact, when I first started meditating I preferred this little lift of my head. I had this lovely vision of lifting my head to the light. I had a teacher that would remind the class throughout meditation to tuck our chin, bow our heads (probably looking at me specifically, as I often chose not to listen to this). I used to get a little annoyed, not understanding why this was important. Now I like the visualization that I am humbly bowing to the light above.
Update (2/22/14): Sally Kempton, meditation teacher and author, describes neck lock (without calling it that) in her meditation in March’s Yoga Journal, like this: “let your chin move back so you feel as if your head is being suspended by a cord from the ceiling.” I really liked that image, and thought it may be helpful in visualizing the head position.
Resource: The Aquarian Teacher Level one Instructor Text Book, by Yogi Bhajan, PhD