Uddiyana Bandha, Suck the Abdomen in for Digestive Health

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all Techniques of Yoga articles

The Sanskrit word uddiyana

when translated to English,

means “to rise up” or to “ fly upward.

On the other hand, a Bandha, or lock

as applied in a segment of the body,

means sealing, binding,

or locking it by constricting the area is also known as,

intra-muscular control. A Bandha is meant

to stop the movement of prana,

across the area of its application. This bandha is sometimes also known as Uddiyana kriya. As per classical yoga literature as the flow of prana is impeded the flow of thoughts loses fuel leading to a calmer mind. 

Uddiyana bandha is the muscular contraction – lock – applied to the abdominal region which causes the diaphragm to rise up into the chest. The contraction so applied pushes the abdominal organs placed below the diaphragm up along with it, that is why Uddiyana bandha is also known as stomach lift. Another reason the word Uddiyana is used with this yoga practice is that this physical lock helps push the prana upwards into the Sushumna nadi towards the Sahasrara chakra. 

Uddiyana bandha is the most powerful lock out of the three main bandhas – Jalandhara bandha, Moolabandha, and Uddiyana bandha – as it creates a intense vaccum within the chest cavity as the lungs are completely emptied after an active, prolonged exhalation, the vacuum so created sucks the diaphragm and the organs lying below it upwards aided by the simultaneous contraction of the abdominal muscles. 

Preparatory Practice for Uddiyana Bandha

  1. Stand erect with the insteps of the feet parallel to each other and with one foot distance between them, take a deep inhalation through the nostrils
  2. Keeping the eyes open slowly bend forward from the hips while exhaling all the air out of the lungs through the mouth
  3. Empty the lungs of air as much as possible
  4. Keep the spine horizontally straight and slightly bend the knees, place the palms on the thighs just above the knees, put the weight of the upper body on the knees, the fingers of both the hands can either point downward or towards each other
  5. Keep the arms straight at the elbows
  6. The abdominal region automatically receives a slight contraction in this position
  7. The head can slightly bend forward but avoid tucking the chin into the sternum
  8. Keeping the glottis closed relax and expand the chest as if taking an inhalation but not drawing in any air (false inhalation), relax the abdomen
  9. Slightly straighten the legs
  10. This will help draw the abdomen upwards and inwards towards the spine on its own to get into Uddiyana bandha
  11. Hold this position – in breath suspension (Sunyaka) – till comfortable without straining
  12. Then release the Abdominal lock by taking a slight inhalation and relax the chest
  13. Now raise the head while straightening the knees
  14. Take a short exhalation to release the lock on the lungs and now breathe slowly through the nose
  15. Keep standing like this till the breath returns to normal before attempting the next round

This can also be done in a upright position but doing it with the torso bent forward position helps with easily detect any errors and make corresponding corrections.

This preparatory practice for Uddiyana bandha can also be done in Padangushthasana, the standing forward bend with the hands holding the big toes.

  1.  For doing this stand erect with the feet hip distance apart and parallel to each other
  2. Exhaling slowly bend forward from the hips and grab the big toes of both feet with the index and middle fingers of the corresponding hands
  3. Take a small inhalation, exhaling pull the torso towards the thighs
  4. As the exhalation ends with the lungs emptying out, suspend the breath and pull the torso away from the thighs while maintaining the hold of the hands on to the toes
  5. Such the navel back in towards the spine
  6. As the length of the arms restrict this outward movement of the body the abdominal organs and the diaphragm will receive an upward pull on their own
  7. Hold on to this position till the arms become straight, inhale and begin the next round
Uddiyana Bandha Technique

How to do Uddiyana Bandha – Sitting Position

  1. Sit in any meditative posture; Sidhasana, Sidha yoni asana, or Padmasana, keep the spine erect, and make sure the knees are touching the floor
  2. In case the knees are not touching the floor use a cushion under the hips to raise them which will lower the knees
  3. Place the palms of the hands flat on the knees
  4. Keep the eyes closed as you relax the entire body
  5. Tighten the arms and firmly grip the hands to the respective knees, take a deep and long inhalation and then exhale completely emptying the lungs as in the case of Sunyaka Pranayama
  6. Hold, suspend the breath outside
  7. Contract the back muscles, stoop a little, grip the knees and exert a mild abdominal pull inwards and upwards – in the ribs – simultaneously arching the spine till ultimately the necessary concave appearance of the abdomen is produced
  8. Hold the suspension of the breath like this for as long as possible without straining
  9. Remain in this position till the breathing returns to normal before attempting the next round
  10. Now slowly loosen the contraction of the muscles of the back, straighten the spine, withdraw the hands from the knees, release the abdomen to its natural contour and then slowly take an inhalation
  11. Do all this at immediately and in the same order

Breathing in Uddiyana Bandha Kriya

Uddiyana Bandha is performed with external breath retension – Sunyaka – only. 

Precautions while Doing Uddiyana Bandha

In order to benefit completely from Uddiyana bandha one must strictly observe the precautions listed here.

  • Never perform Uddiyana after an inhalation
  • Keep the body completely steady – no movements – while maintaining Uddiyana
  • Work at it slowly in the beginning and avoid any undue strain while compressing the abdomen deep towards the spine
  • The various movements which lead up to Uddiyana must be well coordinated to make the effort involved look very natural
  • Always practice Uddiyana on an empty stomach
  • Avoid inhaling any amount of air while performing false inhalation by properly closing the glottis
  • Consciously keep the abdominal muscles relaxed, not tight, at the false inhalation stage
  • Since Uddiyana is an advanced technique practice it under the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher as well as after gaining some proficiency in practicing breath retention (Kumbhaka) as well as Jalandhara and Moola bandhas

When to Avoid practicing Uddiyana  Bandha Kriya

Persons suffering from conditions mentioned here must avoid doing Uddiyana Bandha.

  • Colitis
  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  • Diaphragmatic hernia
  • High blood  pressure
  • Cardiac issues
  • Glaucoma
  • Raised intracranial pressure
  • During Pregnancy
  • During menstruation
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Any respiratory issues

Errors and Corrections

  • In case one is not able to completely suck, contract the abdomen backwards and upwards make sure one is exhaling and emptying the lungs completely before attempting to suck the abdomen in
  • Avoid actively pushing the abdominal muscles and organs inwards, as you need to keep the abdominal muscles relaxed, instead let the vacuum created within the chest due to complete exhalation naturally suck the abdominal viscera in and up in the chest
  • Keep in mind that the vacuum that lifts the abdominal organs naturally up is facilitated by the conscious expansion of the rib case after the exhalation ends, as no air is allowed to enter the lungs the pressure inside the chest decreases, this drop in air pressure sucks the diaphragm  and the underlying organs up, as the lock is released the rib cage contracts to normal pushing the organs down, back into their natural places
  • Learn to release and relax, as many a times some unconscious fear can prevent one from properly practicing Uddiyana bandha, in case one is still having trouble releasing the lock purse the lips together leaving a tiny hole in their center, slowly suck the air in from this hole like one sucks water through the straw, this should equalize the  air pressure within and outside the chest relieving the abdominal muscles to their natural state
  • Suck the air in only through the lips and make sure no air enters from the nostrils

Uddiyana bandha Benefits

Uddiyana bandha kriya has a number of corrective, therapeutic and psychic advantages.

  • This practice is the best means of maintaining one’s physical and mental vigour
  • As this lock helps ignite the digestive fire it benefits by healing a number of stomach ailments like constipation, worms, and indigestion
  • It helps remove toxins from the body
  • As it involves intense correction of the abdominal region it helps stimulate the pancreas which benefit by healing diabetes
  • It properly massages and tone the abdominal organs rejuvenating them in the process
  • It balances out the aderenal glands which help remove lethargy and sooths anxiety and tension
  • It improves blood circulation in the entire trunk along with strengthening the internal organs as it draws in blood from the lower part of the trunk into the chest and heart, as it relaxes – widen – the capillaries and veins present within the abdominal region they can carry more blood within them and also provides a boost to the exchange of nutrients – carried in the blood –  with their target tissues
  • It directly stimulates the Solar plexus, Manipura chakra, which has many subtle influences on the distribution of energy throughout the body
  • The upwards suction pressure created by Uddiyana bandha reverses the follow of apana and prana, and unites them with samana
  • It pushes the subtle force prana up into the Sushumna nadi
  • Uddiyana bandha kriya helps improve respiratory health as it is the only practice which help stretch the respiratory diaphragm, simple exhalation aided by the contraction of the abdominal muscles can on its own stretch the diaphragm higher into the chest, but if one applies uddiayan bandha after that the diaphragm receives a further stretch up which positively affects its muscles and connective tissue
  • Regularly practicing this lock helps improve the quality of exhalation which increases the efficiency of respiratory process, deep exhalation lowers the residual volume of the lungs
  • It is a prerequisite for performing other yogic practices like Nauli kriya, basti kriya, and Vajroli mudra
  • Uddiyana bandha helps improve the immune system
  • It calms the mind, improves concentration power, and help relieve anger and irritability
  • It also helps alleviate depression
  • It trains the body of free divers to adapt completely to the conditions that prevail at a certain depth under water, as it simulates the effects of water pressure when one dives deep
  • Uddiyana bandha is crucial to providing the upward push to the Kundilini (pranic energy) into the Sushumna nadi for realizing the real self as per Kundilini Yoga. This technique was very instrumental in helping me awaken my kundalini energy.

Preparatory Asanas for Uddiyana bandha

  • Agnisar kriya
  • Sarvangasana
  • Shirshasana
  • Adhomukhasvan asana
  • Badha Konasana

Duration, Awareness, and Sequence

Begin with 3 rounds – of duration ( few seconds) to which one can keep the breath suspended comfortably – and gradually as one begins to attain proper control increase to 10 – 20 rounds of 20 – 30 seconds duration for each round.

Maintain the physical awareness on the abdominal region and on synchronizing the breath with each movement, and keep the spiritual awareness on Manipura chakra.

Sequentially it is better to place Uddiyana bandha after an inverted asana, and put id in the beginning of asana practice to kick start the energy residing in the abdomen

Variation in Lying down position

Lie down on the mat on the back with the arms stretched over head, back of the palms resting on the mat

Stretch the heels of the feet in the opposite direction, this will automatically suck the abdomen in

Breathe normally as the upper abdomen expands with each inhalation, the lower abdomen remains pushed in

This posture resembles Tadagi mudra, Tadagi means tank, as the shape of the abdomen in this position resembles a tank.