If I got anything from my shala practice hiatus recently and from my shoulder injury ages ago that prevents me from doing chakrasana, it’s discovering my uddiyana bandha. Ok, let’s connect the dots now….
I roll up to do my vinyasa instead of doing chakrasana and one time, as I did it, I felt something contracting in my belly. It was so pronounced that I stopped, rolled up again, and tried to see if that something was still there each time. It was. “Is this my uddiyana bandha?” Since then, I have started practicing my rolling up, using bandha instead of sheer momentum. Not only that, I have also incorporated bandha-building or core-strengthening exercises in my yoga (which I now call my ashtanga prep practice :-D), in the hope that eventually I can do my jump-throughs, titibhasana, and other bandha-demanding asanas. Among them are:
unsupported shoulderstand and seated push ups—-pulling my legs up (one set each for crossed and straight legs) while keeping my butt off the chair and only my arms supporting me.
In the local parlance, uddiyana bandha is para kang mag dos por dos sa tiyan (like having a 2″ x 2″ plank of wood in your belly)—not exactly what these articles from Yoganatomy and Drishti described uddiyana bandha to be. Now I am working on supta konasana, ubhaya pandangushthasana, urdhva padmasana and with “armpit bandha” (thanks to Carla for this new term!), shirshasana. Ah, the power of bandha! First time I was able to get into shirshasana with straight legs that seem to float naturally into upright position. All the while I thought I could not draw my back far enough to lift my legs so I just bent my legs one at a time then straighten them up to headstand. Now, when teacher says “use your bandha” I know what it means. It’s time to take out my dos por dos 😀
After discovering my bandha, next step is controlling it. It can be so strong that I end up rolling up and flat onto the floor at times, ha!
BONUS: Popular actor Derek Ramsey said that activating your core all the time 1) helps in burning calories and thus reducing weight and 2) develops six-pack abs like his. I’m fine with the first benefit. And this one: