Uddiyana Bandha

The Sanskrit word uddiyana means “to rise up” or “to fly upwards”, it is often translated as the stomach lift. Another meaning is that the physical lock helps to direct the prana into sushumna nadi so that it flows upward to sahasrara chakra (crown of the head).

The first time I tried this practice I couldn’t understand how to make my whole belly disappear inside my chest! Witnessing it on someone else was amazing; the person was creating a hollow under her chest. The whole belly was gone! I was trying to squeeze my abdominal muscles as strong as I could, my face was turning red but sadly my belly was still there.

After a few practices I started to feel the vacuum happening in my body and felt very pleased to see the hollow below my chest. Let me explain:

Place your awareness on the abdomen and the breath; your spiritual awareness is on manipura chakra (solar plexus). This practice should be done early in the morning on an empty stomach, you can easily understand why. Stand on your feet, inhale deeply through the nostrils and bend forward from the waist as you exhale. With your knees slightly bent, your hands on your thighs, your arms straight and your gaze at your navel, exhale to your maximum, empty the lungs as much as possible. Make a false inhalation, also called a mock inhalation, closing the glottis to prevent air from entering the lungs and expanding the chest as though breathing in but not actually taking in air. By pretending to inhale, your thoracic cage becomes larger, expending from side to side and from front to back. And since there is no air inside your chest, the air pressure has to decrease, which in turn creates enough of a vacuum to pull the diaphragm up, creating a dome. This movement will automatically draw the abdomen upward and inward towards the spine, underneath the rib cage to form uddiyana bandha. It’s easier to hold the breath by locking your chin, jalandhara bandha, by flexing the head forward. You can hold this position as long as you feel comfortable. Before straining yourself, release the abdominal lock and relax the chest by relaxing the external intercostals muscles, it will lower the dome of the diaphragm and the abdominal organs will lower into the belly. Raise your head and straighten your torso to the upright position. Inhale slowly through the nose.

If you have difficulties to master this position maybe you’re not exhaling enough at the start or you may be letting some air in on your mock inhalation. A third problem people seem to have is not relaxing your abdomen enough during the mock inhalation. Your belly should be lifted by the vacuum created inside you and not by pressing in with the abdominal muscles.

Contraindications:

Uddiyana bandha should not be practiced by a person with high blood pressure, holding your breath after inhalation is always contraindicated, holding it after exhalation, as in this position, is less dangerous but not recommended because it will increase the venous return, the flow of blood back to the heart.

Any intense abdominopelvic practices are all contraindicated for everyone with stomach and duodenal ulcers, hiatal or inguinal hernia or any major abdominal problems.

It should also be avoided during menstruation and pregnancy.

Benefits:

Uddiyana bandha is a veritable elixir for the abdomen. It stimulates the function of the pancreas, the release of glucagons and the liver, the release of extra glucose into the general circulation. The digestive fire is stimulated and the abdominal organs are massaged and toned. The adrenal glands are balanced, removing lethargy and soothing anxiety and tension. It will increase the amount of oxygen in the blood and decrease the carbon dioxide levels throughout the torso. Uddiyana bandha stimulates the solar plexus, which has many subtle influences on the distribution of energy throughout the body.