Uddiyana Bandha – The Abdominal Lock
Uddiyana Bandha or the Abdominal Lock is one of the three main Bandhas or locks practised by yogis. Uddiyana Bandha is described in the yogic texts Hatha Yoga Pradeepika, Gheranda Samhita and the Siva Samhita. Uddiyana Bandha is said to activate the Manipuraka Chakra and channels the pranic energy upwards.
Uddiyana Bandha is practiced by pulling the abdomen inwards after exhalation and holding the breath outside. In this Bandha, the abdominal muscles presses the organs in the abdomen against the wall behind the organ, next to the spinal column.
Uddiyana Bandha is to be practiced after the practice of asanas and pranayama and before starting any meditation practices. The classical texts Gheranda Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradeepika classify Uddiyana Bandha under the section on mudras or the psychic gestures. Even though Bandhas are technically not same as mudras, both are clubbed together as they induce a certain channelling of energy in the body which is conducive for higher practices of dhyana and Samadhi.
Gheranda Samhita calls Uddiyana Bandha the lion that slays the elephant of death. It is an important Bandha that aids in the achievement of liberation.
Uddiyana Bandha should be practiced after asanas and pranayama and before the practice of meditation. It may also be practiced along with pranayama and mudras.
Uddiyana bandha should be practiced after one masters Moola Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha. Also, practicing agnisara kriya (the stomach lift) can help toloosen up the abdominal muscles before taking up the practice of Uddiyana Bandha. It should be done under the guidance of a teacher. Those suffering from blood pressure problems should not do Uddiyana Bandha. Also those who suffer from heart diseases, ulcers of the stomach and intestine should avoid Uddiyana Bandha. It should not be practiced during pregnancy. Uddiyana Bandha can also be practiced during inverted asanas, but that needs guidance and practice.
How to do Uddiyana Bandha (The Abdominal Lock)?
- Sit in Padmasana or Siddhasana with the spine straight.
- Place the palms on the knees, breathe normally and relax the whole body.
- Inhale deeply and then exhale fully.
- Hold the breath outside. Slightly bend the shoulders and lean forward.
- Perform Jalandhara Bandha or the chin lock and press down the knees with the palm.
- Contract the abdominal muscles and pull it inside and upwards. Feel as if there is a suction from a point just behind the sternum. This will enable the abdomen to go fully inside pressing all the abdominal organs against the back wall of the spine.
- Hold the lock with the breath outside for as long as you are comfortable. One can start with few seconds and then gradually increase it to a minute over a period of time. Experts can hold the breath outside for even two minutes or more.
- To release the lock, first release the abdominal muscles. Then bring the shoulders back to normal position, release the chin lock and inhale.
- Wait till the breathing process comes back to normal. This process can be repeated as many times as you are comfortable.
Benefits of Uddiyana Bandha (The Abdominal Lock)
- Uddiyana Bandha massages all the organs in the abdomen.
- It tones the adrenal glands and balances its function.
- It improves digestion by increasing the digestive fire.
- It helps to remove stress and tension.
- It improves the function of the liver and pancreas.
- In Uddiyana Bandha, the air is held outside. The upward movement of the abdominal muscles also massages the respiratory system. Practicing of Bahir Kumbhaka (external holding of breath) can systematically improve the lung capacity.
- It also has effect on the heart and improves circulation of blood throughout the body.
- Uddiyana Bandha activates the Manipuraka Chakra, the solar plexus and improves all functions related to that nerve center.
- Uddiyana Bandha is practiced by yogis as a great tool for liberation. Gheranda Samhita says that by doing the abdominal lock the ‘great bird’ rises upwards. Here the meaning of the great bird is the prana. Uddiyana bandha creates a kind of suction that reverses the flow of apana. The pranic energy now moves upwards. Also by performing Jalandhara Bandha (the Chin Lock), the prana is blocked and made to move downwards. Prana and Apana meet in the region of the solar plexus awakening the Solar plexus and improving the function of all organs associated with it.
- Sage Gheranda says that Uddiyana Bandha can lead to liberation. Uddiyana Bandha tries to push the pranic flow towards the Sushumna nadi. Sushumna is associated with the central nervous system and hence enhances the awareness which aids in higher practices of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
- Uddiyana Bandha is one of the main components of Maha Bandha or the great triple lock practiced by yogis.