What is Uddiyana Bandha?
The term Uddiyana Bandha is confusing to a lot of practitioners. I will try and explain the term and its applications, as I have come to understand them with the help of Tiwariji and Paul.
The whole abdominal region is the zone of Uddiyana. And the term Uddiyana Bandha may be used in 3 different ways:
- As a Kriya – When done as a kriya/cleansing exercise and preparation for pranayama, it is the precursor to nauli (abdominal churning). Most of the people who have come to Samahita Retreat as a guest/student have done this exercise, where the diaphragm is contracting, lifting the abdomen up into the ribcage. The exercise is done with no breath (no air in the body), and with no pelvic floor/mula bandha activity.
- As an element of proper breathing in practice¬†– When talked about in Ashtanga asana practice, or in asana in general, they are referring to the transverse abdominis, to the area below the navel. Rather than letting the lower abdomen be loose, as is sometimes advised in yoga classes (i.e., ‚Äúfull belly breath‚ÄĚ), we are instead encouraged to maintain control of this area, while letting the upper abdomen be free.This is actually just part of proper breathing for practice. In practice ‚Äď whether sitting for pranayama or another meditation technique, or moving in asana ‚Äď you always want to skillfully control the pelvic floor and lower abdomen. This not only helps to manage internal pressure and direct prana/energy, but it also supports the spine and keeps you safe while practicing.
- As an advanced technique in Hatha practice – Uddiyana Bandha as described in the Hatha texts is actually an advanced practice. They are referring to the full application of Uddiyana Bandha that comes in toward the end of the retention and through the exhale. Often when we read Hatha Pradipika, which dates back to the 15th Century CE, and other old Hatha texts, we don‚Äôt realize they are actually written for advanced practitioners and should not be followed/practiced without guidance from a skilled teacher who has gone through these practices.