Uddiyana means flying upward energy lock. It is the bandha that moves the energy upward from the earth, water, and fire centers into the heart (air) chakra strongly influencing the efficacy of the lower bandhas by “making room” on top. Some claim that it helps suck the energy into the central column. It prevents accumulated tensions, toxins, or stagnation to develop or accumulate in the navel region. Although cleansing through its power to remove stagnant energy there it allows stuck or distracted energy to move through this region and up through the sushumna which is its natural uncorrupted path, hence it helps to purify and energize not only this region, the front of the lower spine, but also the entire body.
Although it means flying upward, this refers to the energy, not the navel point which remains downward and posterior (back toward the spine). For best results and especially to first learn the effects, it is performed standing with the feet approximately shoulder width apart and facing forward. Take up mula, swadhi, and nabhi bandha throughout. First get in touch with where the navel is. Take one hand in back to feel the part of the spine that lines up opposite the navel which will be near the top of the lumbar curve approximately at T 12 (this spot on the spine will vary according to individuals, seasons, and conditions). Loosen up that area in back and visualize the navel moving inward toward it, without the spine moving away from it. Try not to hunch the shoulders or collapse the chest concentrating at the solar plexus and below.
Bending the knees slightly, place the hands on the inside of the lower thighs with the meat of the palms resting on the top of the lower thighs fingers pointing slightly in toward the knees. Do not place undue weight on the hands, arms, or shoulders nor torque the knees or legs, nor round the shoulders nor collapse the upper torso or upper back. Let the top of the scapula sink away from the ears as the heart remains lifted. Have the pubic bone catch the tailbone allowing the tailbone and sacrum to sink down to find the mulabandha. Resist the tendency of the pelvis to round in retroversion or tuck in anteversion, so keep it long and stable in mulabandha.
Keep the heart forward and lifted throughout creating more space between the sternum and the bottom of the pubic bone in the abdomen. Resist rounding the back and/or collapsing the front but rather keep them both long. Even though the breath is leaving the chest and rib case and the diaphragm is drawn up into the pleural cavity upon the exhale, the energy of the pose is formed by keeping the back and torso long, thus creating the space for the navel to move toward the spine and thus binding and concentrating the energy between the navel and T 12 .
Exhaling all the breath out as above, retain the external retention (bahya kumbhaka) and check in with mulabandha to increase the energetic effect of uddiyana. Play in this manner exploring the energy of the bandha, and release before any need to gasp. Straighten the knees and let the arms raise over the head with a slight extension of the hip and back on an inhalation as a safety counterpose. Then allow the breath to come back to normal. Repeat two more times from the beginning (above) or check the step by step description given at the end of this section.
Ideally the neck should remain free without compression or strain and the throat relaxed, keeping the throat soft and relaxed, the neck long, and the chin in (jalandhara bandha). Always precede uddiyana bandha with mulabandha and swadhi bandha, then maintain them throughout. Do jalandhara bandha during the external kumbhaka only if it is comfortable and there is no stress
Before there is any stress, tension, or strain either in the breath or abdomen, release the bandhas consciously and then inhale.
Hints and Kinks:
The diaphragm has to get out of the way so it is allowed to lift up into the pleural cavity expelling the last of the air from the lungs. This is done by allowing the muscles of the diaphragm to completely relax. The lower ribs actually lift upward at this point because the diaphragmatic muscles are relaxed (when the diaphragm muscles contract the lower ribs are moved downward and inward toward the upper lumbar vertebrae. Instead of lifting the organs of the upper abdomen up out of the way, this lift of the diaphragm creates the requisite space in the abdomen that permits the abdomen to move back toward the spine, if we keep the sternum lifted from the navel and the perineum extended down from the navel. But that’s not the concentration of the pose, but rather its precursor. As the navel folds back in toward the spine the outward dissipation of energy at the fire chakra is bound back for alchemical internal usage. This is the tapas energy or pratyhara of the bandha. The Vishnu Granthis can be broken through in this manner and the blockages between the water chakra and the air chakras are alleviated.
The more deeper benefit of the lifting of the diaphragm is in the unobstructed and natural ability for the navel to move backward forming a natural concavity in the abdomen below the sternum, stomach, liver, and pancreas. There is no breathing during the classical coarse implementation of uddiyana bandha. Try keeping the lower back lengthened between the iliac crests and the back ribs without tucking the pubic bone up toward the navel. Here mulabandha keeps both the front and the back long and prevents collapse. The spine moves toward the navel as much as the navel moves toward the spine. Where they come together is where the energy of the bandha creates the fire.
Always release the bandha before there is any strain so that you do not gasp for breath, cough, feel strained or out of breath afterward. Remember we are softening the abdomen, removing tension, and stress not building it. It should be pleasant and energetic so please start very slowly, kinesthetically, softly, and energetically. Later when you enjoy it naturally you will want to do it longer and more often when it is needed.
If there is stress or pressure in the throat. larynx, or chest probably the diaphragm is being over emphasized, rather than the navel point. Relax the neck and throat allowing the chin to fall into the sternal notch in jalandhara bandha if it is impelled. There should be no stress, but rather a feeling of energy, fire, lengthening, and opening in the middle region. As you exhale, the sternum will naturally want to drop and the chest collapse, while the upper back and shoulders will want to round and hunch, but preventing that occurrence is where the benefit of the bandha lies. The duration of uddiyana bandha should not be prolonged to the point where its release finds us coughing or gasping for breath at the end, but rather find a happy and pleasurable point to end the practice before any discomfort.
Uddiyana must be preceded with both mulabandha which is maintained during uddiyana. Try jalandhara bandha here also after uddiyana is implemented being certain to release jalandhara immediately before the uddiyana or the pressure and stress will be created at the larynx and glottis. (See tri-bandha below for more on the implementation and interaction of the three major bandhas).
Uddiyana is used in vamana dhauti kriya, nauli kriya, agni sara kriya, tri-bandha, advanced mudras, pranayama, meditation, and also while in yoga poses (especially in forward bends). It increases the tone of the abdomen and gastric fire stimulating the entire fire chakra area. Thus the powers of digestion, assimilation, and immunization are naturally augmented. It opens up blockages in the manipura chakra and thus connects the water center (swadhistana chakra) with the air center (anahata chakra). It helps untie the Vishnu Granthi.
It completes/accomplishes mulabandha as a synergist. Although usually done in its coarse form during and after an exhalation, when it is done on an inhalation it completes jalandhara bandha and is often used as such in intermediate and advanced pranayama and mudra practice. It often occurs spontaneously in those whose natural vital energetics are active (have not become repressed). When practiced in mudra, pranayama, and meditation it is usually done sitting in lotus, siddhasana, vajrasana, or similar sitting poses. For the beginner learning the the deep coarse form, it is first learned standing. It is a great purifier of the entire abdomen by itself or when used as an element of nauli or agni sara.
The above uddiyana bandha as classically described is to be performed after the complete exhale (rechaka) with external retention (kumbhaka) because this facilitates the most complete ability of the navel area abdominal fascia to move inward toward the spine because the organs of the upper abdomen are drawn upward and out of the way by the lifting of the diaphragm. This is the standard and classical uddiyana bandha.
However there are some mudras, asanas, and sometimes in tri-bandha that also ask for uddiyana bandha either while we are engaged in the breathing process or upon the internal in-breath (puraka) retention (kumbhaka). Because the diaphragm is not raised, this internal kumbhaka form of uddiyana bandha is less deep and gentle (owing to fact that the diaphragm is lowered while the lung is full) thus resisting the ability of the abdomen to contract. Here the point is not to try to reproduce the effect of the full traditional uddiyana bandha, but rather the benefit from its ability to invigorate, open, and energize the back, spine, pelvis, and chest. Uddiyana when applied after in-breath retention without strain can elicit a powerful if not more subtle effect especially if we practice it with advanced techniques of reverse breathing, wavelike breathing, and spine breathing with the chest elevated. Thus it greatly facilitates jalandhara bandha.
Advanced or Subtle Energetic Practice: Another application of uddiyana bandha that is nontraditional, yet very palatable is to apply uddiyana bandha at the end of both deep inhalation and exhalation, of course the application after the inhalation will be less deep. This may be helpful in pranayama practice while performing both internal and external kumbhaka (retention of breath). In both cases mulabandha, swadhi bandha (and in most cases jalandhara bandha should be performed at the same time (always releasing jalandhara bandha first before remobilizing the breath. The applications of uddiyana bandha after the retention of the full in-breath (antar kumbhaka) should be practiced only after proficiency is established of the more traditional type of uddiyana bandha (which is done with holding the breath out at the end of the exhalation in bahya kumbhaka . Uddiyana bandha greatly facilitates jalandhara bandha, especially when done after the in-breath retention with diaphragm lifted, it raises the energy inward and then upward, and it is curative to disorders of the small intestines, colon, lower back, kidneys, and adrenals. Mulabandha greatly completes uddiyana bandha and is essential to it. Coincidentally uddiyana bandha also completes mulabandha, i.e., they are mutually synergistic.
Avoid any tension in the larynx and throat. Avoid the compression of the upper abdomen organs that normally lie in the solar plexus area directly below the sternum such as the pancreas, liver, stomach area. The major fault is the creation of tension in the area which is to be avoided. The second major fault is to round the back (also to be avoided). The back and torso rather should be kept elongated through the intelligent application of mulabandha In other words, the pelvis does not tilt in retroversion, rather the pubic bone keeps its distance from the navel. The heart remains lifted up off the abdomen, rather than collapse or fold into it.
In other words, we want SPACE created in the abdomen as the navel goes toward the spine. While the diaphragm raise up into the pleural cavity , the abdomen should not collapse, thus creating the space for the navel to fold back and in toward the spine forming a concavity of the abdomen. This creation of spaciousness of the abdomen and lift of the heart region, while the back remains long feels like a lift and hence the name uddiyana bandha Thus the sequence or rhythm of the flow is:
Mulabandha Bend the knees with the feet shoulder width apart.
Check the mulabandha so that the sacrum and tailbone drop down away from the navel keeping the torso and back long.
Exhale the air out drawing the diaphragm upward into the pleural diaphragm without collapsing the abdomen (neither rounding the lower nor upper back nor collapsing the chest) forming an elongation of the abdomen as space and roominess is created lengthwise in the abdomen so that the front of the abdomen can move toward the spine as the breath is exhaled.
Hold the breath out in external retention (bahya kumbhaka)
Retain the bahya kumbhaka with extension and check in with mulabandha in order to increase the effect.
Release the bandha before there is a strong feeling to gasp air — and before any sensation of stress or strain letting the navel come back forward and allowing the diaphragm to come down, keeping the back and torso long and mulabandha.
Let he breath come back to normal and repeat as above Uddiyana practiced daily three times a day can be mastered in a couple of weeks.