This bandh involves movement of the muscles of the stomach and especially the muscles of the diaphragm. The movement is important and characteristic. Hathayoga assigns a special importance to Uddiyan Bandh. The study of Pranayam is not complete without studying this bandh. While performing this bandh, the muscle of the diaphragm is stretched in upward direction; hence this bandh is termed as Uddiyan Bandh. Also, this bandh is useful for awakening of Kundalini Shakti while making spiritual progress, hence it may have been termed as Uddiyan Bandh.
The bandh involves action of muscles of the stomach and hence it may be performed while being in Standing Pose or Sitting Pose. The bandh can also be performed while being in Padmasan, Siddhasan, Vajrasan and while practising pranayam. Or it may be performed independently while being in these asanas too. However, for the new entrants in the field, it is advisable to study the bandh, while being in standing pose. It is easier to learn this bandh while in standing pose and it can be performed effectively too. Hence, here the bandh has been explained while being in standing pose.
To perform the bandh
- Stand up with distance of 1 to 1.5 feet between the legs
- Bend a little in the knees and place left palm on the left knee and right palm on the right knee.
- Bend the shoulders a little towards the front and the neck also towards the front so that the weight of the body is shifted onto the knees through the hands. This reduces the strain on the stomach and the muscles of the stomach can be relaxed.
- Inhale deeply and then exhale gradually.
While exhaling, try to shift the muscles of the stomach towards inner side. Lift up the ribs a little bit and push the muscles from within with a gentle push towards the upward direction. The muscles of the stomach must be relaxed at this time, so that they can be pushed up. This results in muscles of diaphragm being pushed upwards. This is the final stage of Uddiyan Bandh. Try to remain firmly in this pose. This pose is to be retained when the breath is fully exhaled. When there is an urgent need to inhale, the bandh must be released gradually as under.
Releasing the bandh pose
- Relax the muscles of the stomach so that they are slowly released back to the normal position. Diaphragm will also be released to the normal pose.
- Relax the pressure in the shoulders and neck area and start inhaling gradually.
- After inhaling completely, bring back the hands into the normal pose and straighten out the bent knees.
- Join both the legs together and come back into the standing pose.
Important aspects of the bandh
The pose involves pressure on the knees with the help of both the hands and retaining a firm pose with a particular pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles. The weight of the body is shifted onto the knees due to the pose. This relaxes the muscles of the stomach and the diaphragm. In this position, the muscles of the stomach are pushed inwards and the muscles of the diaphragm are pushed upwards. The ribs are lifted up a little bit and the chest is broadened. All these actions are performed simultaneously. However, the pose is to be attained after exhaling the breath completely. An attempt is made to inhale without actually inhaling the air into the lungs. This attempt results in expanding the ribs but as the air is not inhaled, the diaphragm is pushed upwards. This is the main part to be achieved while in this bandh. The stomach is pulled in and the navel pushed upwards. Further the muscles of the stomach must be relaxed while in this bandh. The more the relaxation, the better the performance of the bandh.
During this bandh, the stomach is taken considerably inside and a vacuum is created in it. A little bit bending of the shoulders in forward direction will prove useful for this bandh. Once the pose is achieved, it is essential to be in that pose for some time. However, all this time, the breath must be exhaled. The pose is to be retained after exhalation of the breath and till the time an urge is felt for inhalation. When the urge is felt, all the muscles should be gradually relaxed and brought back to the original position and then the breath should be inhaled. Inhalation should not take place before bringing the muscles to the original state.
The diaphragm is moved to a great extent in this bandh, hence the muscles of the diaphragm get well exercised and this movement also helps in the regular breathing. When the strength and the efficiency of diaphragm is improved, the breathing system also works more efficiently. Also, it is discovered after research that the organs in the stomach develop a negative pressure in this Uddiyan bandh. Due to such negative pressure, the blood supply to these organs is improved. The difference between the negative pressure during this bandh and the normal pressures resumed after relaxation, increases friction on the internal organs such as stomach, small intestines, liver etc. thereby improving their efficiency. This also results in improving the secretion of the digestive juices. The bandh involves movement, as if one is inhaling, however actual air is not inhaled, hence this creates negative pressure on the lungs and the heart. This also results in affimproving their efficiency. Due to this negative pressure, the blood circulation in the heart is increased. The bandh also helps in improving the digestive system. It may also be affecting several other organs of the body. However, further research is necessary to find out all such effects.
It is stated in various ancient texts that apart from these benefits, the bandh is also useful for spiritual progress and awakening of Kundalini power. The bandh is indispensable for the study of pranayama. The air pressure resulting in pranayama is regulated in proper direction due to the position of this bandh. Otherwise, such pressures can create harmful effects on the body. Hence, this bandh is indispensable in pranayama.
The bandh action is to be performed after exhaling completely. The proper duration for the bandh is the time for which it can be retained comfortably but firmly after exhalation and without inhaling. Inhalation should not be immediate after releasing the bandh pose. The inhalation i.e. pooraka after releasing the bandh has to be in a controlled manner. Hence, the bandh is to be retained till the time it can be easily retained after complete rechaka. After releasing the bandh, the pooraka should be performed gradually. In the initial stages, the bandh cannot be maintained even for 10 to 15 seconds. However, after proper practice, it can be firmly maintained for 1 to 2 minutes. If after achieving bandh pose, all the other muscles of the body are relaxed, the bandh can be maintained for a little more duration. Because in a relaxed state of the body, the need for oxygen is reduced and the oxygen present in the body can be used up for a little more time. Hence, the bandh duration can also be increased.
Persons suffering from stomach ailments, heart troubles or defective blood circulation should not attempt to perform the bandh. Persons suffering from diseases like hernia too should not perform this bandh.
While performing Uddiyan bandh, it is to be performed after exhalation. This is the proper method while studying this bandh independently. However, while practising this bandh during pranayama, the pose of the bandh is to be taken while being in kumbhaka.
References in the ancient texts
The third chapter in Hathapradeepika describes ten mudras. Uddiyan bandh has been described as one of the mudras. The writer of Hathapradeepika explains why this mudra is termed as Uddiyan bandh as follows :
Badhho yen sushumnayam pranastuddiyate yatah |
Tasmaduddiyanakhyoyam yogibhihi samudahrutah || 3-55
The prana (Zeal) in the body is raised (A :? awakened ? )due to the performance of this bandh, hence this bandh is termed as Uddiyan bandh.
The action of this bandh is described as under :
Udare paschimam tanam nabherudhwaram cha karayet |
Uddiyano hyasou bandho mrityumatang kesari || 3-57
The stomach is to be pressed inwards and the navel upwards. This process is known as Uddiyan bandh. This action is like lion killing elephant which represents death. Nowhere in the process, it is described that the bandh is to be performed after exhalation. This part was taught as a matter of master-disciple tradition and hence perhaps not explained in detail in the shloka.
The effects of this bandh have been described as under :
Uddiyanam tu sahajam gurunam kathitam sada |
Abhyasetsatatam yastu vruddhopi tarunayate || 3-58
If the bandh is practised constantly and regularly as taught by the Guru, even an old man can be transformed into a young one.
The effects have been a bit exaggerated over here, however the hidden meaning is to be understood. The bandh causes certain beneficial effects on the body, which in turn result in youth like state of the body full of enthusiasm.
The next shloka describes as under :
Nabherurdhwamadhaschapi tanam kuryatprayatnatah |
Shanmasbhyasenmrutyum jayatyeva na samshayah || 3-59
If a sadhaka practices stretching the navel, the portion below the navel and the upper part of the stomach towards back and upward direction, regularly for a period of six months, there is no doubt that he can win over the death.
This description is also a bit exaggerated. However the logic behind it must be understood. We should not blindly believe that practising this bandh for six months will win over the death, but still we should study the bandh regularly so that its beneficial effects on the body will result in increasing our life span. A shloka after this describes that the study of this bandh results in leading the sadhaka easily onto the path of mukti.