Fun, creative and challenging, yoga binds require a linking of the hands and/or wrists, causing the body to be bound and constricted in a variety of ways by the arms and hands—taking you physically deeper into the pose.
Chances are you’re already binding in your yoga practice. Hardly a class goes by without at least one instruction to “interlace your fingers behind your back,” whether in a forward fold, Locust Pose or simply standing in Tadasana. Clasping the hands creates a bind (and one-hell-of-a-shoulder-stretch).
Below is a combination of bound yoga poses from beginner to advanced to get you started, but remember the number of yoga binds is endless: Where there’s a pose, there’s a yogi finding ways to bind it, so play around with it.
Caution: Yoga binds are extreme on the shoulders and should never be forced. Using a strap between the hands is a great way to become comfortable binding as well as receive the benefits of bound yoga poses.
1. Bound Extended Side Angle Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose is most often the first wrap taught, binding your torso and front leg while rotating the shoulders and chest.
The trick is lowering your front shoulder beneath your knee before wrapping your arm under your front leg and up your back. The bad news is that your front knee has to be bent to a 90-degree angle (thigh bone parallel to the floor) in order to make the bind.
The bottom hand clasps the top wrists on the outside of your right hip (not underneath you), strongly rotating the top shoulder back as you twist up to the sky.
2. Bound Half Moon Pose
Once you’ve learned how to properly clasp the wrist in Extended Side Angle Pose, a whole world of bound yoga poses becomes more available, including Bound Triangle Pose, Bird of Paradise and Bound Half Moon Pose (as pictured).
From Bound Extended Side Angle Pose turn your gaze down, press into your front foot and slide your back foot forward on your mat. Before lifting the back foot up for Half Moon Pose, actively extend and lengthen through the sides of your body.
Play with lifting the back leg up, reaching your top heel and heart in opposite directions for balance.
3. Bound Warrior III
Adding the bind to Warrior III is by far my favorite variation of the standing balancing pose, opening the chest and helping you to counter balance the pose.
Tip: Interlace your fingers behind you before stepping up into Warrior III will help you glide more gracefully into the pose. Try a toppling Warrior III, leaning your chest closer to the floor as you raise your lifted leg and knuckles higher toward the ceiling.
4. Bound Forward Fold
There are a few different binds in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold), including interlacing the fingers behind your back, wrapping the arms around one leg and grabbing a wrist, or (in the case of this photo) wrapping the arms around both legs and interlocking the fingers.
The last variation is the deepest expression of Uttanasana.
Start with both knees in as you work your torso between you legs, bringing your shoulders behind your knees. If possible wrap both arms around your back and lock all eight fingers together. Then slowly straighten your legs.
5. Bound Lotus Pose
Bound Lotus Pose is one of the deepest binds in the book.
If you’re able to work your legs into Lotus Pose without knee pain try wrapping your arms around your back, grabbing ahold of the opposite foot. Try leaning forward just a bit to clasp the feet.
Again, these are just five out of the many yoga poses that you can add variation to by binding. How about you—what are your favorite bound yoga poses? Share in the comments below!
Image credit: Nir Livni Photography / Yogini: Meagan McCrary