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What Is Uddiyana Bandha?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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Uddiyana bandha is one of three types of bandha poses in yogic practice said to help massage core energy centers, called chakras, and to secure passage for divine energy, called prana. Translated in Hindi to "upward uniting," uddiyana bandha looks like the practitioner is sucking in the abdomen as tightly as possible, allowing the gut to flutter naturally in response to the inward pressure and diaphragm contractions. This pose is purported to improve digestive and cardiovascular function as well as to center breathing and energize the parts of the core most in need of release.

According to Yoga Journal, uddiyana bandha is only performed after exhaling on an empty stomach. To begin the uddiyana bandha pose, also known as an upward abdominal lock, the feet are placed at shoulder length apart, the hands are placed on the thighs, and the knees bent. The abdomen is then sucked in as deeply as possible, upward from the navel, while rounding the torso inward in a fetal manner. This pose is held for as long as 15 seconds, then released and repeated several times.

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Mastering the uddiyana bandha pose can lead to attempting it in a fully standing or seated position, wedged between the two other bandha poses. The mulabandha concerns itself with the root chakra, involving the flexing of the perineum at the very base of the body's seven chakras. It typically comes first, followed in conjunction with uddiyana bandha in the midsection and the body's core of organs. This is then followed by the top bandha at the throat chakra, called jalandhara bandha, which is concentrated on the origin of breath, also known as vishuddi. It involves lifting the chest to meet the gently lowered chin at the end of inhalation and all during exhalation, with the back straight and the neck fully stretched.

When taken as a whole group, these three poses comprise what is called traya bandha. The core goal of this yogic practice, in addition to longevity and strength, is to ease passage of prana, which is often visualized as a kundalini serpent rising up through the body's seven chakras. These end at the crown of the head — the former location of the soft spot. The end result of concerted yogic practice could be complete passage of that visualized serpent of spiritual energy, straight into a storied region of pure consciousness.

In the meantime, uddiyana bandha and the rest of the bandhas could be helping the body in more concrete ways. These three exercises could be inserted into a more concerted yogic routine, leading the body through dozens of poses known to improve strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health. Such improvements could, in turn, lead to better immune response and a longer, more mobile life.

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