What is Uddiyana Bandha?

uddiyana bandha
Thanks to wsezdrav.ru for the image.

When translated from Sanskrit to English, Uddiyana Bandha loosely translates to the Rising Up Lock. There are 4 Bandhas, or a system of locks, that should be activated when practicing yoga. These locks are at the pelvis, belly, and chin. The fourth Bandha is when all three Bandhas work at the same time.

The Bandhas contain your energy and help you use it appropriately. When the Bandhas are not active, your energy escapes or is misused. This is a loss that will not cause injury, but it does diminish potential for an amazing yoga practice. Activating the Bandhas will help you move and hold with ease through challenging yoga sequences.

Uddiyana Bandha is located in your abdominal cavity. This Bandha is used intermittently. Unlike Mula Bandha, you do not engage it and hold it throughout your yoga practice. That’s a good thing since engaging Uddiyanda Bandha involves holding your breath!

Benefits of Uddiyana Bandha

Because of the massage provided by the abdominal muscles on your internal organs, there are many health benefits attributed to regular practice of Uddiyana Bandha. These include:

  • helping reduce stomach aliments like indigestion and constipation;
  • increasing your metabolism;
  • relieving stress, lethargy and tension;
  • stretching the diaphragm to increase the depth of your breath; and
  • massaging, toning, and purifying the adrenal gland.

These health benefits have neither been verified nor dispelled by scientific study.

Who Should Avoid Uddiyana Bandha

Please avoid practicing Uddiyana Bandha when you have:

  • Eaten recently,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Ulcers,
  • Hiatal hernia, or
  • Glaucoma.

Also avoid Uddiyana Bandha if you are pregnant or menstruating.

Finding Uddiyana Bandha

If you’ve ever tried to suck in your stomach, you’ve already started trying to find Uddiyana Bandha. Now, with some simple instructions, you’re doing to take your flat stomach to a whole new level.

  1. Only practice Uddiyana Bandha on an empty stomach. Doing otherwise could be very unpleasant.
  2. Stand with your feet hip distance apart.
  3. Inhale through your nose and raise your arms above your head, in line with your ears.
  4. Make sure you’ve got a nice, deep breath here.
  5. Exhale through your mouth and forward bend. Place your hands on your thighs above your knees. The deeper your forward bend, the deeper your exhale. Be aware that this will create a more intense suction in step 7.
  6. Shut your mouth and don’t breathe through your nose as you straighten your arms and lift your torso so that it’s parallel to the ground.
  7. Don’t freak out. As you lift your torso, you will start to feel your abdominals and the organs in your abdominal cavity suck up toward your spine.
  8. Hold this for as long as you can.
  9. To come out, inhale through your nose as you stand up straight with your arms by your ears.
  10. Exhale and lower your arms by your side.

These instructions are for if you’re standing (away from a wall). However, I read some instructions on how to do this if you’re standing with your back against the wall. The instructions are pretty much the same except that you would articulate forward into a standing Cat pose and then lengthen your spine. Truthfully, I don’t think you need a wall to do this successfully either.

Another set of instructions that I read indicated that you could access Uddiyana Bandha from a seated position. You should sit with your legs crossed, and take a deep inhale through the nose. As you exhale forcefully through your nose, hinge forward at the waist. This should create the sucking vacuum to help lift your organs up and into your abdominal cavity.

Now What?

Now, that you have learned how to practice Uddiyana Bandha, you may be wondering What do I do with this? Valid question.

Unlike Mula Bandha, which can be practiced for your whole yoga practice, Uddiyaya Bandha is something that you should practice at certain points. Obviously, your goal should not be to cease breathing through your yoga class.

Instead, find moments where you can use Uddiyana Bandha to enhance your practice. Anytime you’re wanting to invert, jump, or twist, Uddiyana Bandha is appropriate. You may not engage it immediately, but practice engaging before moving into your pose and see where that takes your practice.

More Information on Uddiyana Bandha

My favorite article that I read on the Bandhas is by Lauren Imparato. It’s called “Bandhas for Beginners:  Intro to Yoga’s Interior Locks“. It covers all 4 Bandhas.

There’s also a good article from Yoga Journal by David Coulter called “Uddiyana Bandha Step by Step“.

If you read my series on the Yamas and Niyamas, you know that I’m a fan of Timothy Burgin. He wrote a concise article called “Uddiyana Bandha, the Abdominal Lock“.

Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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