Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Uddiyana bandha and asana in Krishnamacharya's 'Original' Ashtanga

Adhomukhasvanasana : ''After pulling the abdomen in and pushing it out, exhale the breath out. Holding the breath out firmly, pull in the abdomen. ' Yoga Makarandap69
This post from my new Krishnamacharya's 'Original' Ashtanga Project blog exploring, through practice, Krishnamacharya's 'original' Ashtanga as found in Yagasangalu and Yoga Makaranda.

Kino has raised the topic of Uddiyana bandha/kriya. Thanks to Yogagodess for posting on this in relation to Richard Freeman's Pranayama course see her post here

Seeing as a deep, full uddiyana  bandha comes up often as an option in Krishnamacharya's 'original' Ashtanga, I thought it would be good to highlight the practice. Later I'll add more quotes from Yoga Makaranda and any we might find in Yogasanagalu as more translation comes in.

Important to note that in Yoga Makaranda, Krishnamacharya refers to Nauli Kriya where,

'...the nerves of lower abdomen are pulled up into the stomach and then rapidly turned around this way and that'. Yoga Makaranda p42

Drawing the lower abdomen up into the stomach without the churning Krishnamacharya tends to refer to as a deeper extension of uddiyana mudra

'Uddyanabandha Mudra: Draw in the navel in such a way as to press the bones of the back (spine) with the abdomen firmly pulled in'. Yoga Makaranda p46

Thank to Kino for highlighting the important distinction and raising the topic.

In recent Modern Ashtanga of course there's no longer retention after the exhalation and so no possibility to engage uddiyana kriya or the full uddiyana bandha, however in Krishanamacharya's 'original' Ashtanga there was the option of including breath retention in certain asana and this is often recommended to achieve the full benefit of the posture. Including the option of breath retention in certain asana and mudras then, allows the option of engaging uddiyana bandha more deeply and even the kriya.

Check out Lino performing Nauli in Kukkutasana :49 seconds in...

And a quote from his Ashtanga Yoga book written under the guidance of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Kuukutasana. When practicing this asana mulabndha and Uddiyanabandha should be released. The rctum (gaud a Nala) must be relaxed and the practice of Nauli performed. Nauli is the movement of the rectus abdomens muscles, firstly in a circular clockwise and then anti clockwise direction, while the lung are empty.' p62 Ashtanga Yoga. Lino Miele 1996 (2005 edition)

And from Pattabhi Jois himself in Yoga Mala
'(Kukkutasana) ...lift up the padmasana, and stand on the strength of the palms; this is the 8th vinyasa. Then in this position, revolve the stomach (nauli), lift the back and chest fully, and do rechka and puraka.' p93 Yoga Mala

Here's Sharath in badha konasana in Yoga Mala full Uddiyana bandha?

Lets look at the text.

'Benefits. While in the states of this asana, one should do rechaka and tighten the anus fully. By pulling the stomach in completely, holding the lower abdomen and anus tightly, and practicing rechaka and puraka terrible afflictions... will be destroyed' Yoga Mala p94

Here's Krishnamacharya on Janu sirsasana.

 ‘While doing janusirsasana pull in the stomach to the extent possible. The benefits obtained will be greater. While drawing the stomach inward exhale and then hold the breath. ...though it is very difficult to do this draw the stomach inside starting with the navel, keeping the focus on the nadi’s near the rectal and genitle ares carefully pulling them upwards…
Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda

Uddiyana kriya  or the full uddiyana bandha isn't something those just coming to the practice would most likely be concerned with (there's enough to worry about it) but once settled into a regular practice a more sophisticated approach to asana is something to be considered such that these techniques and approaches to practice are't lost altogether.

As Kino often says in her video's in relation to certain options "While not traditional (in the sense of the recent tradition) it may be something you might like to explore".

So we might consider uddiyana under three headings

 1. Uddiyana lite
As Kino describes it in the video, a natural continuation of moola bandha, a slight lifting and drawing back of the lower abdomen to which we will give attention and focus and may intensify a little depending on the posture

2. Uddiyana max
Full Uddiyana, the stomach drawn all the way back and up, the ribcage expanded to allow this to happen. Available in certain postures and mudras and in pranayama. Uddiyan max is only engaged during the retention of the exhale.

3. Uddiyana Kriya (for ex nauli)
A kriya, cleansing process ,in which full uddiyana is engaged on the retention following exhalation and the stomach churned. Se the Lino example in the video above.

To close, part of a nice comment from Satya whose translating the Yogasanagalu on the page at the top of the blog

'It is even more striking when you read it in Kannada. It is almost like this was a hand written copy, a first draft, if you will. Some of the words he could be taking straight from the chastening he had given to his students at the shala to get serious. You can almost feel his concern that if these guys don’t take this seriously, this art could be lost again'.


  1. Nice post during my recent trip to India I met this Sadhu who said all the asanas can be replaced just by Nauli kriya looks like he is true.

  2. Nice post again Grimmly,
    A point of distinction between the "historical" expansive form of uddiyana bandha (Kino calls uddiyana kriya) and the compressive form (kino calls uddiyana bandha) that is not often discussed is the large differences each type creates in intra-abdominal pressure. The "historical" form as described in pre 20th century Hatha Yoga texts involves using the muscles of inhalation with a closed glottis, which creates a vacuum in the abdominal compartment. The compressive form advocated by current day Ashtanga Vinasa (and most other postural) Yogis doesn't create a vacuum and may, depending on how strongly it is performed, increase intra abdominal pressure. Recent medical literature suggests that internal organ (large and small intestine, liver, and kidney) function is adversely affected by even moderate increases in intra-abdominal pressure (see references below). To gain trunk strength and stability without undue intra-abdominal pressure, Simon Borg-Olivier recommends what he calls "Tha-mula Bandha", which involves the rectus abdominis contracting as independently as possible, which moves the lower abdomen away from the spine (not towards it). He maintains he learned this by watching and listening to Pattabhi Jois and following the instruction to inhale during Lolassana. He also maintains it appropriate for most Asana work because it allows for relaxed diaphragmatic breathing throughout practice. I agree. Does anyone care to comment?

    Theodossis S Papavramidis, Athanasios D Marinis,1 Ioannis Pliakos, Isaak Kesisoglou, and Nicki Papavramidou2 Abdominal compartment syndrome – Intra-abdominal hypertension: Defining, diagnosing, and managing J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2011 Apr-Jun; 4(2): 279–291; Rosemary Koehl Lee Intra-abdominal Hypertension and Abdominal Compartment Syndrome: A Comprehensive Overview



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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta