Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Fit

The Physical and Energetic Effects of the Abdominal Lock

This explanation of uddiyana bandha will help you understand why and how it should be practiced in yoga.

253
Author Image
Contributing Writer
SHARE:

The Sanskrit word bandha is generally considered to mean “lock” but more literally “to bind” or “to hold captive.” In hatha yoga, bandhas are physical contractions that give structural support to the body including the organs in the pelvis, abdomen, and spine. These locks become especially important in keeping the body healthy during a vigorous and physically demanding practice because they engage the tissue surrounding the core. When engaged in conjunction with pranayama (breath work) and kumbhaka (breath retention), bandhas stop the movement of prana (the vital life force, or energy). According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a classic Sanskrit manual on hatha yoga, when this force stops moving, the mind stops moving as well.

Uddiyana means “to rise up” or “fly.” In the practice of uddiyana bandha, also known as the abdominal lock, the abdominal wall is firmed and lifted. The tension created when working with the uddiyana bandha is a form of “tensegrity,” the relationship between tension and compression. When the core is engaged (tension) there is a natural upward flow (compression) of energy that gives the necessary support to the abdominal organs and spine. On a more subtle and esoteric level, uddiyana bandha fans the agni, or element of fire that is most highly concentrated at the navel. Strengthening this fire aids in purifying the body’s subtle channels, or nadis. This purification process is intensified if uddiyana bandha is practiced during a bahir/bahya kumbhaka, or external breath retention. This is sometimes called uddiyana kriya. One of the main goals of hatha yoga is to purify these nadis to allow prana to flow more freely. Anatomically speaking, uddiyana kriya has a powerful toning effect on the visceral organs, muscles, nerves, and glands in the solar plexus area. It also gives a horizontal stretch to the diaphragm, which can assist in deep breathing and free up this muscle to help break chronic chest-breathing patterns.


Related: The Intriguing Tantric Practices You Should Really Know About


Practicing uddiyana bandha/kriya creates a strong vacuuming effect in the abdomen and puts pressure on the organs. For this reason, it is not recommended during pregnancy or menstruation, nor for people suffering from ulcers and hernias.

A posture in which it’s helpful to explore uddiyana bandha/kriya using the principles of tensegrity is this forward bend (Padangusthasana), in which the hands and feet are connected. First, make sure you prepare with several rounds of Sun Salutations, then allow your heartbeat and breath to slow down to their natural pace. Next, with your feet parallel and about hip-width, lean forward and hold the big toes with the first two fingers of either hand. As you exhale, pull your torso down toward your thighs. At the very end of exhale, pause the breath and slowly pull away from the thighs as you suck the navel back towards the spine. The tension created when the arms stop this movement result in an upward compression of the abdominal organs and diaphragm. Once the arms are straight, inhale. Repeat three to four times.

Photo by Mitchell Manz; Graphic by Sarah Weiss

By

SHARE:

Comments (0)

A 3-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan

Reset your diet to feel healthy and energized with Sonima’s free six-page guide designed to keep you satisfied as you cut back on calories, sugar, and processed foods!

Get the Guide

Load More

Find us on Instagram

@LIVESONIMA
  • Looking for a quick at-home workout? Try "The Tens" from Stacey Pierce-Talsma, DO, RYT: Start with 10 burpees, 10 pushups, 10 sit-ups, 10 lunges, and 10 squats. Then you do nine of everything, then eight, then seven, all the way down to one. "I like to time myself and see if I can get it done in record time. I enjoy this workout because it usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, yet I’ve totally gotten a good workout in and strengthened most major muscle groups of my body," she says.

#homeworkouts #WorkoutFromHome #fitness #exerciseroutine
#athomeworkouts
  • During times of uncertainty, it can be a struggle to find time for self-care. But a few minutes of quiet can do so much for your well-being. In our guided meditation, Deepak Chopra, M.D., invites you to take a few moments of mindful attention so you can center yourself and make space in your mind to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Click the link in our bio. 
#meditation #selfcare #mindfulness
  • Many yogis chose to decorate their bodies with intellectual and emotional reminders of the practice. The symbology of the yogic tradition from chakras to Sanskrit letters has been paired with universal symbols of love, life, breath, and oneness to create a yoga-tattoo canon of sorts. The symbology has been overturned and reinterpreted over time, so that the scope of a “yoga tattoo” has actually become quite wide. Here we present a collection of body art, which honors the diversity of the many yoga lineages and the masterful and artful creativity of the modern yogi: https://www.sonima.com/yoga/inspirational-tattoos/

Check out the link and then tell us: Do you have any yoga tattoos?

#yoga #tattoos #bodyart #yogaart #bodyink
  • Start your day with this empowering mantra. "It sets the tone for the morning and can help me come back to my truest self and feel like I can take on anything," says @sophie.jaffe. 
What's your favorite mantra to kickstart the week? Tell us below!

#mantra #mondaymantra #quotes
  • Have you ever noticed that spas tend to smell of flowers such as lavender and ylang ylang? Studies show that these scents increase calmness, which is right for that setting. If you were to look for an essential oil that had the opposite effect—one that made you more energized and alert—choose peppermint. This distinct odor has the opposite effect of soothing essential oils, although it’s still a pleasant scent. Peppermint can even enhance your memory. #energyboost #boostenergy #essentialoils #memorybooster #naturalhealth #naturalremedies
  • If you find it hard to concentrate, try this practice from @alive.awake.empowered at least once a day: Count breathing cycles. Inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three. And so on.

You may be able to get only as far as two or three at first. But with practice, you will improve, and so will your ability to concentrate. Do what you can, and when a thought interrupts, go back to one.

#meditation #concentration #focus #mondays
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!