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Udhiyana Bandha: the beginning of integration

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In this third part of his fascinating series on the bandha, Chris Jacskon from Yogatherapies explores in depth the Udhiyana Bandha. If you’ve missed the beginning of the series, you can catch up here:

The Bandha: what are they and why are they relevant today?

The Bandha: A tree with strong roots, laughs at the storms!

Swadhi bandha, facilitating freedom

As we reach udhiyana bandha, we reach a point of integration. We will come back to its fuller purpose as we loop back to this central axiom at the conclusion of this series. At this junction, what I would like to introduce is its physical action and clarify udhiyana bandha and udhiyana kriya.

Kriya refers broadly to a category of preparatory and often cleansing exercises. Udhiyana kriya is then a preparatory practice for the correct engagement of udhiyana bandha, and works to tone, to release and condition the diaphragm, although the two terms are often confused.

Demonstrating udhiyana kriya

To perform udhiyana kriya:

• Stand with feet hip width apart, knees soft, and the hands on the thighs to support the upper body.

• Keep the spine long, and neutral.

• Inhale fully, and then exhale completely.

• Retain the exhale and draw the abdomen in and up, as if it were moving under the rib cage. Still maintain the neutral position of the lower back.

• Hold here for as long as is comfortable, soften the engagement and then inhale.

 

 

 

Demonstrating udhiyana bandha

 

 

Now to experience udhiyana bandha:

• Begin in the same position as above.

• Inhale fully, and then exhale completely.

• Perform a “mock inhalation”. That is to say, engage the muscles of the torso as if you were about to breathe in, but don’t actually breathe in.

• Hold for a few moments, then release the engagement, and then inhale.

 

 

 

 

What you will begin to experience is a toning in the entire lower belly, that both hugs circumferentially in towards the spine and lifts along its vertical axis.

Furthermore, this engagement will unite, and even consolidate the lower bandhas, encouraging their upwards and stabilising function.

Exploring udhiyana bandha and mula bandha further:

• Repeat the stages above for engaging udhiyana bandha, but rather than releasing fully prior to inhaling, feel for mainting the activation with the inhale then release on the exhale.

• Next, try maintaining the activation softly with the exhale also.

• Once you feel comfortable with both of the above, begin to experiment with adding in this activation to your daily practice and enjoy the onward journey!

 

 

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