Experience the power of Uddiyana Bandha in your yoga practice! Learn how to perform Abdominal Lock here…
If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you may have come across the concept of Bandhas. A Bandha, or lock, is a specific practice that is designed to help control the flow of energy or prana throughout the body. Locks are designed to constrict or “seal” a specific area of the body, which can be useful in certain yogic traditions.
There are three bandhas that are commonly used in yoga. Uddiyana Bandha (Abdominal Lock) is the second of these locks. The first is Mula Bandha (Root Lock), which constricts the lower core and sexual muscles, and the third is Jalandhara Bandha, or Throat Lock. Combining all three locks together at the same time is called Maha Bandha, or the Great Lock.
Uddiyana Bandha can also be translated as Upward Flying Lock, which indicates the strong upward drawing of the belly in this practice. This lock is believed to tone, massage, and cleanse the abdominal organs and deep internal muscles of the belly, and connect you more deeply to your third chakra. It also improves blood flow and strengthens the abdominal muscles, and is thought to stimulate digestion, boost energy, and release tension and toxins from the body.
While pictures of this particular lock may seem intimidating, in fact, when performed on an empty stomach this lock can actually feel quite pleasurable and invigorating!
Here is a bit more about the benefits of Uddiyana Bandha, according to YogaPractice.com:
The Uddiyana Bandha is an active engagement of the abdominal muscles. This tones and creates space for the abdominal organs as the diaphragm is drawn upwards. Toning and lifting the organs enables yogis to fly easily into inversion poses. This way, yogis do not have to muscle through inversion practice and risk getting injured.
Uddiyana Bandha is also specifically useful for lowering blood sugar levels. It relieves constipation as it stimulates the intestines. And it acts as an excellent remedy for irritability and temper. Creating a vacuum in the chest improves circulation to the abdominal organs.
On an energetic level, Uddiyana Bandha reverses the flow of Apana.
It enables pranic energy to move upwards. If you perform this concurrently with Jalandhara Bandha, prana and Apana energy will meet at the solar plexus.
Most of all, Uddiyana Bandha awakens and improves the functions of all organs.
It is the only practice in hatha yoga that stretches the respiratory diaphragm. Exhaling as much as possible will push the dome of the diaphragm to the highest possible position. This will stretch the muscle fibers and connective tissues.
When practiced regularly, Uddiyana Bandha will allow you to exhale more completely and breathe more comfortably and efficiently.
This bandha can be rather tricky to perform for those new to the practice, and is easily the most difficult of the three internal bandhas.
When learning to perform Uddiyana Bandha, it’s best to start standing with your knees slightly bent and hands braced against your thighs. You can also perform the lock while standing erect, or while seated, but this stance is easiest for beginners to feel the internal movement and correct positioning.
Here are step-by-step instructions from YogaInternational.com for performing Uddiyana Bandha:
- Exhale completely. Notice that you do this pressing in with both your chest and abdomen. You can pretend to be blowing up a balloon as much as possible with one breath.
- Do a mock inhalation using your chest, locking your glottis and restraining air from entering your lungs, and at the same time relax your abdomen. If you get confused about how to prevent air from entering your lungs, you can try to inhale (without inhaling) while blocking your mouth and nose with your hands. You should feel your chest lift.
- Holding the breath, try harder to inhale while keeping your abdomen relaxed. Your upper abdomen will form a deep concavity that extends up underneath your rib cage. This is uddiyana bandha.
- Hold for as long as you can, and then relax your mock inhalation, letting your chest and abdominal organs drop and your abdomen release forward.
- Press gently in with your chest and abdomen, thus equalizing air pressure on the inside and outside of the body, and gently inhale without gasping.
Keeping your abdominal muscles relaxed is key to doing this correctly. Rather than thinking of tightening your abs, imagine that your lungs are sucking your stomach upward into your chest cavity.
This technique can be tricky to master, but while it is a bit difficult in the beginning, it is also one of the most powerful bandhas, and it just takes a bit of practice at first so keep at it and you’ll soon achieve success!
Keep in mind that you should always practice on an empty stomach, and those with high blood pressure, hernia, ulcers, or who are pregnant should not practice Uddiyana Bandha.
For more helpful tips and troubleshooting suggestions for mastering the Abdominal Lock, check out this article.