Bandhas are, above all else, an energetic awareness of ourselves. When executed properly, Uddiyana bandha, or upward-lifting lock, allows us a deep connection to the center of our body.
Physically, if we tighten our core, & specifically the transverse abdominis, during inhalation & exhalation, we prevent the diaphragm from moving downward as the abdomen is tightened & can no longer move out. This energy, unable to escape down through our pelvic floor or out through our abdomen, is redirected upwards towards our chest, creating a floaty feeling of lightness. If we engage both Mula & Uddiyana bandha while practicing asana, we begin to understand the balance of feeling both grounded & light.
Uddiyana bandha is best practiced in the morning with an empty stomach & bowels. It can be engaged in any position or Asana. However, when we are new to the practice, starting in a posture that allows our abdominal organs to tilt forward will allow us a heightened awareness of the created sensation when the bandha is executed properly.
To perform Uddiyana bandha:
- Begin standing, feet hips distance apart, with knees slightly bent. Come forward & place your hands gently on the tops of your thighs.
- Take a deep breath in through the nose & allow the trunk of your body to completely inflate.
- Exhale fully, as though you are attempting to inflate a balloon with just one breath. Relax your abdomen & drop your chin slightly towards your chest.
- Perform a mock inhalation & pretend to inhale through your nose (though don’t actually inhale or let any air in). Your upper abdomen will begin to draw upwards towards your respiratory diaphragm, creating a vacuum in the abdominal cavity that draws the abdominal organs upwards, facilitating increased bloodflow to & through those organs, optimizing tissue hydration & nutrient exchange.
- Relax your chest & belly. Gently release your mock inhalation & inhale fully & steadily.
- Repeat the full breath cycle a total of 3 times.
Uddiyana is a powerful breath retention technique & should be approached both physically & energetically with a respectful acknowledgment of its potency. Physically, engaging the deep abdominal core in this manner may lead to some soreness or tenderness in the trunks of our bodies as we adjust to the practice. Energetically, this bandha links our lower & upper chakras. As such, it often empowers that practitioner with a renewed & reinvigorated sense of strength. As our practice evolves & we are able to incorporate Mula along with Uddiyana bandha, we are challenged to balance both strength & grounded humility in our practice, on & off the mat.