Since I was a little girl, I’ve had a tendency to get the hiccups. My mom told me I frequently had them in utero, and I still get them. In the past, I tried all the old-fashioned treatments: breathing into a paper bag (pretty good results), eating a teaspoon of sugar (no), drinking a glass of water upside down (how do you do that?) or getting someone to scare me (never works when you’re expecting it). But thanks to my yoga practice, I discovered a new way to cure hiccups: uddiyana bandha.
Uddiyana translates from Sanskrit to mean “belly flies up.” It’s what your belly does when you create uddiyana bandha. So how can you learn how to use this to cure hiccups? Follow this video from one of my teachers Erica Mather, where she instructs uddiyana bandha. Practice this a few times when you don’t have hiccups, so you can be prepared to take action when you do.
One day I realized that since hiccups are due to a spasm in the diaphragm, something that tones and relaxes the diaphragm might help. I tried uddiyana and behold!, hiccups gone. The more refined the practice of uddiyana becomes, the more you can “feel around” using your diaphragm to find the area that is under spasm and gently pull up on that area. Use uddiyana, and the empty breath retention (known as a rechaka kumbhaka), to soothe the spasmodic musculature. Now I use this technique every time I get an attack of the hiccups, and have been able to cure any hiccup attack with just one or two repetitions (and long kumbhakas) of uddiyana.
This is an advanced practice, and the bandhas are primarily energetic locks, so having the assistance of a teacher to help you understand what you should be doing/feeling and why is helpful. If you proceed without a teacher, move with caution, never rushing thru the practice and always honoring your feelings – if it doesn’t feel right, stop.
And here’s something fascinating: hiccups can be traced back, genetically, to fish.