February has arrived and you may have noticed the shops filling their windows and shelves with hundreds of different ways to tell ‘that special someone’ how much you love them. This kind of pressure usually ends up in restaurants filled with rowing couples! If you find yourself in the situation where that love scene is all a little too much to stomach, hold on, suck up and engage those bandha’s. It will all be over soon…
In Sanskrit bandha means to lock, to hold, or to tighten. It also refers to a lock in and of itself. There are 3 principle bandhas in the body. The ancient yogi philosophers said that when you master the locks, you master the yoga practice. The practice on the outside – floating in and out of asanas or postures, holding for long periods of time, and managing new positions. As well as the practice on the inside – consistent single pointed concentration, steady and long breath, and a calm, clear mind.
Uddiyana means to fly up, or to rise up. This ‘flying up lock’ is all about your insides flying upwards, intangibly meaning your energy, tangibly meaning your diaphragm, stomach, and abdominal organs.
Uddiyana Bandha can be one of the most transformative aspects of your yoga practice, especially as you get more advanced. It moves the energy upwards with force thus allowing you to invert and jump more easily, as well as float forward and back more lightly, and twist more deeply. Because the abdominal wall is pressing the organs and tissues of the abdominal cavity backwards, Uddiyana Bandha creates a soft massage for the deeper internal muscles of the lower back.
In a more day-to-day sense, Uddiyana Bandha is the ultimate remedy for abdominal and stomach ailments, from constipation to indigestion. It stimulates your digestive juices, thus increasing your metabolism, and tones your overworked abdominal organs. It also balances the adrenal system, relieving stress, lethargy and tension.
Check out David Keil’s YogAnatomy.com for a really comprehensive guide:
Want to know even more about Bandhas? Yogabase Brighton recommends the following reads:
Moola Bandha The Master Key by Swami Buddhananda
Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda