Deepening Your Practice: "Take the Bind"
“Take the Bind”
Deepening Your Practice
At one of the yoga studios where I teach, Mighty Yoga, we offer “Dig Deep” sessions, where teachers are invited to lead a class which features a special aspect of yoga practice. My last “Dig Deep” session was called “Take the Bind,” where we learned how to build bound postures like bound side angle and revolved bird of paradise safely. Usually students who like a challenge, like doing some funky maneuvers and like having fun are the ones who show up to a Dig Deep session and have a blast.
What is a bind? Usually, it’s a posture where hands can be clasped, arms or knees wrapped around to “lock in” a twist like “noose pose” or extended-limbed posture liked bound half lotus. And, from here, they get even more complex and fun! Check out Yoga Journal and YogaNana for detailed guides on these two bound postures. In some yoga classes, you’ll hear the instructor say something like, “if it’s in your practice, maybe take the bind.” With these tips and methods, you’ll know what that looks like!
Why would someone want to turn themselves into a pretzel and maybe topple over in the process? I think it's amazing how bendy we can be with just a few tweaks in alignment. I like adding binds to my regular practice sometimes to push my limits and play within the postures. Frequently, binds are much easier than they look, but they can be really tricky because they challenge the natural limits of range of motion in the shoulders, hips and knees.
NOTE! If you have shoulder injuries, a history of shoulder surgery, hip, knee, ankle, hand, foot or back issues, be SUPER CAUTIOUS attempting any binds. Don’t ever force a posture and make sure you’re always able to breathe comfortably within a twist.
I took a lot of my direction for my “Take the Bind” class from a couple of different sources: Step-by-Step Breakdown: Learn to Bind a Twist by Kat Heagberg and Binding Yoga Poses from Yoga Journal. Here is a great photo from Yoga Nana showing a simple standing bound balance posture:
Building a bound posture starts with understanding the shoulder, which is a really big area of the body! It’s not just the place where the arm meets the torso, it extends down into the scapula, up into the trapezius, down the arms and into the collarbones. Think of all the muscles that go into moving the arm into all its various placements and all the bones that shift and adjust as a result. There is so much to learn about anatomy within the context of yoga.
In researching how best to practice and teach a bound twist, I found that the key adjustments which stabilize the shoulder to facilitate bound postures is to keep the shoulder blade from “winging off” the back using internal rotation and the assist of sub-scapular muscles and relaxing the top of the shoulder joint itself. This opens up the collarbones and stabilizes the shoulder from all directions. Using a strap within bound twists is key for most of us when first learning to bind to keep that shoulder blade drawn as our flexibility, strength and muscle memory develop.
Bird of Paradise is probably my favorite bound posture. I usually am inspired to try it when in side angle. Here’s a great article from Yoga Journal on how to master Svarga Dvijasana: 5 Steps to Master Bird of Paradise. I usually fall out of Bird of Paradise twice to ever time I get it, but its really fun to try. My leg usually sticks out about 45º, but hey… progress not perfection, right?
So, I hope this blog bit has inspired you to check out some bound postures, to practice them safely, and to have fun. Yoga is a big umbrella with so many variations and just as many schools of thought. I encourage you to investigate, be a yoga tourist and rekindle your practice by taking the bind!
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Reach out to me for an in-person or online consult on taking the bind! firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to help you deepen your practice!