How to Perform Uddiyana Bandha

How to Perform Uddiyana Bandha

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Uddiyana means ‘flying upward’. While a hatha yoga pose, it actually belongs to the purification processes. According to hatha yoga, there are several daily purification exercises and this is one of them.

What I like about uddiyana, is that it is the easiest purification. Most of the other purifications exercises are anywhere from awkward to difficult, to perform, and generally require a pretty hard-core participant to do them. Also it takes a lot of will power to keep them up, over the long-term.

Uddiyana, however, is the easiest of exercises to perform and it is the most powerful. Basically in uddiyana, we pull our belly buttons back in towards our spinal cord, and in so doing so it stimulates the functioning of the stomach and intestines, thus producing significant beneficial effects.

The beneficial purification effects include the following:

  • Improved digestion
  • Detoxification of the intestines
  • Purification of the blood
  • Improved health of the stomach and intestines
  • Improved functioning of the adrenal glands
  • Improved function of the liver
  • Improved functioning of the pancreas
  • Improves blood circulation through the entire body
  • Improves subtle energy glow within the body

 

I like uddiyana because of this combination, a simple easy to perform exercise with powerful health benefits. It will help the detoxification process and also it will stimulate overall well-Being. Finally when we think about rejuvenation, we always have to begin with the stomach and intestines as they act as a central nexus, in the body, from which all energy flows.

When we boost the functioning of the stomach and the intestines, digestion and elimination both improve, which results in increased energy both from the removal of toxins, as well as the increase in digestion, which in turn produces more energy. Toxin removal takes away energy blockages, while improved digestion increases overall energy flow.

So it may be simple, but it is powerful. Also along the way, it will improve the functioning of the core muscles, in the abdomen area, which will also help to improve posture and reduce the waist line, over time.

Uddiyana Bandha is a truly great hatha yoga exercise. It belongs to the purification series of yoga asana and is usually performed every morning. Ideally it should be performed several times a day.

 

Uddiyana Bandha (flying upward) is a yogic asana which consists of standing or sitting in a slightly crouched position, with hands on thighs and then sucking the navel (belly button) back towards the spine, while simultaneously raising the diaphragm upwards.

 

In his famous book “Hatha Yoga” 1, Theos Bernard explains the process as follows:

 

“Stand with the feet apart and the hands on the bent legs, in a semi-squatting position. Make the posture comfortable and then empty the lungs. With the breath out, forcibly contract the abdominal muscles, raising the viscera until a large expression is made under the diaphragm.”

 

Take a look at the following picture which outlines it more clearly:

 

 

Theos Bernard uddiyana-bandha - Copy

 

 

Theos Bernard demonstrating Uddiyana Bandha back in the 1940’s

Now the ideal is to bring the navel back as far as possible, so that according to Theos Bernard “both fists fit in the pocket that is made”! Now this is an idealistic aspiration; meanwhile back in the real world it takes a lot of practice combined with a very slim pshyique to do what Theos Bernard subscribes to. But the attempt to bring the navel back towards the spine brings its own rewards.

There are many befit associated with Uddiyana Bandha and they include:

 

  • Improved digestion
  • Detoxification of the intestines
  • Purification of the blood
  • Improved health of the stomach and intestines
  • Improved functioning of the adrenal glands
  • Improved function of the liver
  • Improved functioning of the pancreas
  • Improves blood circulation through the entire body
  • Improves subtle energy glow within the body
  • Improves posture
  • Reduces the waistline

These are quite a few benefits from such a simple exercise. So how come Uddiyana Bandha is so effective?

The effectiveness in Uddiyana Bandha, comes from the action of drawing the abdomen back towards the spine. The powerhouse of the body is truly the midsection. In Taoist yoga and Zen Buddhism they focus on the energy in the lower tan tien, just a couple of inches blew the navel (also known as the hara chakra in hatha yoga). In Traditional Chinese medicine, they also refer to the lower back (directly opposite the hara centre) as the Ming men (gate of vitality). From a subtle energy point of view this is where the engines begin to flow.

From an allopathic point of view (ignoring subtle energies), the stomach helps to break down food, while the lower intestine digests it. So an efficient stomach and intestines are vital for health. Also, if you look at complimentary health systems you will note a strong emphasize upon the efficient operation of the stomach and the intestines.

Again thinking about it from an allopathic point of view, when the stomach works properly, the food going into the intestines is pre-digested. Then when the food is properly digested, in the intestines, there is an obvious increase in digestion, which of course means a reduction in nutritional deficiencies. A decrease in deficiencies makes for more efficient running of the entire body and an improved immune system!

Furthermore, when we massage our mid-section, blood flow is increased to the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas and adrenal glands. Consequently all of these organs will work better. Also because of improved blood flow to the intestines, digestion is boosted and purification is enhanced. Removing these impurities, from the intestines, not only makes for more energy, but also it means a reduction in energetic blocks (which makes for even more energy). Finally it must also be remembered that as impurities leave the intestines, it makes for improved blood flow to the entire body as well as blood which is also purer, as every time the blood is circulated through clogged intestines, it picks up impurities and slows down its flow.

And of course improved posture and a reduced waistline also results as the muscles of the entire midsection tighten up!

All in all Uddiyana Bandha is a very simple yet effective exercise.

 

Tips for Making Uddiyana Bandha More Effective

While Uddiyana Bandha is an amazing exercise, there are a few tips to be considered which will make it more effective in daily life, which are:

 

1). Start Off Easy :                                                                                            While Uddiyana Bandha is simple, it is not easy, for most of us anyway. Our modern sedentary life’s have made our stomachs and midsection weak and floppy, consequently effectively pulling our stomach muscles in is difficult. The way to begin is do as many as feels easy. While the advanced yogi may knock out batches of 40 or 50 repetitions, for the beginner this would be foolhardy. Rather begin by pulling in the navel once and doing it properly. Then trying it one more time and then again if it feels ok. It does not matter if you can only perform 2 or 3 to begin with, just start as best you can, and try to increase over time. Atypically it is suggested that the beginner start with a batch of 10 reps and do this first thing in the morning, building up to several batches over time. But even 2 or 3 good reps are enough to begin with.

We are talking about yoga here, and yoga is not like a western styled workout where we go for the burn and through the pain barrier. Try this out on yoga asana and you will soon injure yourself. No, rather, when perfuming Uddiyana Bandha, simply aim to do it correctly and then slowly build up.

 

How do you know if it Uddiyana Bandha has been performed correctly or not?

 

Pull, and feel the pull. When you get as far as the stomach can go, you will then feel a kind of a stretch. Hold it for a second or two and then let go.

So semi-squat, bracing yourself with your hands, breath in deeply, then breath out forcibly and then suck in deeply, hold for a second and then let the stomach out, breath in deeply again and repeat. If you feel yourself getting winded, then takes a couple of regular breaths between each repetition. Aim for 10 but settle for far less, if need be.

Try to perform Uddiyana Bandha, three times daily. While it is a purification exercise, it can also be used frequently. So maybe you only perform 3 reps, well do this 3 times a day (not after food). Then build up. When you get up to 10 or so, take a break for a few seconds send then start on rep 11.

If you read Theo’s Bernard’s book, he noted that he began with 50 repetitions per day and worked up to 1500 repetitions, per day (increasing at the rate of 5 extra repetitions per week)! Ok this was excessive. For an ordinary mortal three sets of 10, three times a day is more than enough and should take about two to three minute, three times daily.

Do this exercise regularly and you will have an extremely strong core, a clean digestive system, increased energy, health and immunity!

 

2). For individual who find this standing asana difficult:                                If you find Uddiyana Banda horribly difficult then make it easier by either seating on all fours (like a dog!) or by lying down.

In the sitting version you sit as if you were a dog, and then pull the navel upwards towards the pine (remember in this position the navel is pointing towards the floor). It’s the same movement but feels a lot easier. Also you can suck in your anus as you perform each repetition, which in turn is an energetic lock, plus it aids haemorrhoid prevention and cure.

Finally, you can do this exercise lying in your back. Simply lie back flat on your back and pull your stomach in. This is the easiest yet and works well for people with big tummies. Also you can gently press your lower abdomen with your fingers. So breathe in deeply (pushing your belly out – this is belly breathing) and then breath out hard, then suck in your abs and then gently press down with the fingers. If you feel a dull ache below your belly button it means that there is a slight back log of faeces there.

Yet again and even more effective version of the lying version of Uddiyana Banda is to start in the an adapted fish pose (matsyasana – In matsyasana, the head is pushed backwards, with the crown of the head resting on the floor. If you can do this fine, if not then simply lie down with your head resting naturally on the floor), whereby you lie down with legs crossed and head facing away from the feet, then do this exercise, when in this lying position. With the back hyper-extended (as it is in this posture) thereby providing an even greater stretch on the abdominal muscles. Now some traditionalists (hatha yogi’s of the orthodox type) may frown on these variations. But don’t worry about them. We are not performing Uddiyana Bandha, because we want to be hatha yogi’s, rather we are ordinary people who are looking to get at least some of the benefits of Uddiyana Bandha.

The variations, which I have listed, may result in a slightly different physiological effect than rational Uddiyana Bandha, but they’re still effective in their own way, and in some ways they are more effective, as each variation works the midsection in a different way, thus producing a slightly different physiological and psychic effect.

 

Wrapping up Uddiyana Bandha

Hopefully, the rather technical notes on how to perform Uddiyana Bandha have not deterred you from trying out this wonderful exercise.

My intention here is it outline how useful this exercise and how it can be easily adapted for everyday leaving. These simple yoga exercises can quickly become daunting, because of our physical lack of conditioning most of us can’t even flex our abs. So just do the best you can, never force and over time you will reap great benefits from this Uddiyana Bandha.

If you need any clarification on anything which I have written about here, or you just want to comment, then feel free to comment below as it can sometimes be difficult to understand an exercised properly in written form.

 

 

Footnotes

  1. Hatha Yoga – Theos Bernard – Rider books (1976 edition) (original edition – 1950).

From the ‘purification’ chapter, pages 41-42.

 

 

 

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