Binding in yoga can be an interesting way to explore taking an asana practice to a next level. A bind can deepen the pose and its effects, particularly in twists. Postures in which binds are sometimes explored in yoga classes include side angle pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), twists such as a revolved lunge and Half Lord of the Fishes pose (Ardha Matseyandrasana) and Bird of Paradise pose (Svarga Dvidasana).
We may feel more of a compression of the internal digestive organs when we bind a twist or use the pressure of the bind in open poses to create more freedom and space in the body.
Binds can sometimes put pressure on the shoulder joints so it is important that a proper warm up is done, such as Surya Namaskar or a warm up that works on the spine and shoulder girdle. You can include exercises such as Gomukhasana arms to mobilise and open the shoulders. I have been experimenting with moving into Gomukhasana with a sense of broadening, rather than “winging” the shoulder blades, so that we are experiencing true internal rotation in the shoulder of the lower arm. This helps to maintain stability in the shoulder girdle and reduces the risk of injury once we start to bind.
As binds often compress the body into tight folds it is very beneficial to counterpose in between with posture that lengthen the spine and even out the body.
Binds can give us the opportunity to explore some creativity within our yoga practice, as we can explore how they affect our own personal alignment and play with trying binds in different postures. Something I have found interesting is that if I am binding it can take me into a new area of physical challenge – the challenge then is to approach this with aparigraha or non grasping, and continue with a sense of steadiness and ease.
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