If you are ready to take your practice to the next level, to influence the subtle energies of the mind and body, and increase the flow of vital prana, this article is for you.
To tie together some important pieces of yoga philosophy, it is worth noting that bound variations of asanas are forms of mudra practice. A mudra is a symbolic gestures and/or movements most commonly practiced with the hands.
Mudras can be translated to mean “seals” and incorporated in asana practice when the hands and wrists seal to create bound variations of a yoga pose. One of the key benefits of binding the hands or wrists together is the invitation for the flow of prana to be redirected back into the body to aid in self-reflection and a deeper practice since the hands are a way that energy is released to the world.
Balanced with creativity, curiosity, intention, patience, and the goal of respecting the body, almost any asana can find its way to a bind. To protect the body, especially the tender joints of the shoulders, easily jostled shoulder blades, and compressional spine, it is best to practice binds artfully rather than obsessively.
A yoga strap or hand towel are helpful tools to help close the energy circuit for the benefits of the bind while increasing suppleness in the body.
Since the options are endless for yoga binds, here are six bound variations of common yoga poses to get you started!
1. Bound Forward Fold with One Knee High – Marichyasana A
Commonly practiced in Ashtanga yoga, Marichyasana A is a take on the classic forward fold with a bind to help open the heart.
The key is to keep the extended leg active and bend the knee to the face to avoid compression of the anterior spine that occurs when the spine is deeply rounded without support in a forward fold.
2. Bound Yogi Squat –Baddha Malasana
It is important to notice that the body can still breathe in the bind to ensure that the joints are being protected rather than pulled too far. Binding is often uncomfortable but should never be painful, especially if there is pain in one specific point on the body that could be a signal that the bind is too much for the time being and that injury could be occurring to the body.
3. Bound High Lunge Pose – Baddha Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana
Along with Bound Yogi Squat, Bound High Lunge Pose prepares the body for Bird of Paradise. It is common for more weight to be unevenly distributed to the forward foot in high lunge and the bind tends to add more weight to the front leg.
This can be counterbalanced by intentionally sending energy through the back thigh and out the heel to engage the back leg. The hips will also need to square for the spine to keep lengthening and avoid lateral compression towards the front leg so front hip back and back hip forward.
4. Bird of Paradise – Svarga Dvidasana
Playing around with extending and bending the leg challenges balance. It is important to ground through the whole foot and not curl the toes of the supporting foot to try and grip the floor to make this movement work.
While sending energy down balances and stabilizes this moment, focusing on squaring the hips and lengthening the spine brings a lightness and ease to this bird.
5. Bound Half Lord of the Fishes Pose – Baddha Ardha Matsyendrasana
This bind can also be done with the hands meeting the shin or in-between the thighs. In both variations, it is important to consider that the shoulders are loose bones that can be easily pulled too far, especially by strong legs and knees.
To protect the body, it is crucial that the spine first lengthen then twist before the arms find a bind–that way the body is prepared to a gentle tug rather than a forced bind.
6. Bound Half Lotus Side Plank – Balance Dedicated to Kasyapa – Kasyapasana
For balance play, allow the drishti to start gazing down and eventually work to looking up to the sky. The trick to learning this asana is to break it down–first creating a solid Side Plank practice, second playing with the Half and Full Lotus bind while seated on the ground and standing, and finally working toward a bound half lotus side plank.
Sometimes you find yourself in a bind and sometimes you create a bind just for you! Hope you enjoyed these six bound variations of popular yoga poses. I would love to hear more from you about bound variations that you enjoy – feel free to comment below.
Image credit: Brittany Danielle