I’m going to keep this short for two reasons, firstly I’m tired (we’ve spent the entire day travelling up the coast of Vietnam on a motorbike, stunning). Secondly it’s not complicated or highly spiritual, so don’t worry I’m not going to tell you how binding in yoga connects you to mother earth. Well not for everyone anyway…
In case you’re unsure creating a “bind” in yoga is usually when you bring your hands together to deepen the posture. Sometimes a bind can be created by holding onto both feet, basically your feet and hands should flow through one another, staying in contact.
When you create a bind the technical reason is to deepen the pose and therefore, with certain postures, massage your internal organs. Adding a bind is a perfect way to progress further into your practice. Usually ending in you looking like a tasty little pretzel. A lot of yogis use straps to help them create binds if they’re not quite there. I’ve never used them personally as I feel I become reliant on them. For a lot of people though, they’re key to helping achieve certain postures. It’s just whatever works for you.
So that’s the technical side, now for my hippie view on why I love a good bind. The obvious first reason – falling out of an asana is hilarious, falling out of an asana when you have a bind is even better. Personally for some reason, even when I know the pose isn’t going to happen, my bind stays perfectly connected as my body rolls or collapses to the ground. Binding is a great way to have a laugh at yourself, and laughter is good for the soul!
Secondly, it gives me a visible goal. I never do my practice in front of a mirror, just like I never ask my students to face one. If I can feel or see where my hands or feet need to connect without straining to look in the mirror, it makes the situation much calmer. The situation occasionally turns to excitement when you’re attempting a bind and feel something, then realise its your foot or other hand. I’m sure a lot of people say that you should watch yourself when you’re practising, to see if your alignment is correct, but for me it doesn’t work. Knowing in my head what the pose looks like, then seeing where my hands or feet need to join provides me with a strong focus. If you are unsure about your alignment, and are practising at home, try recording yourself then play it back. It saves your neck!
Lastly, there’s something very comforting about having your entire body connected physically. No loose ends, no hands or legs waving about. You’ve just created this nice secure cocoon where everything is flowing around continuously. When I deepen my practice by creating a bind I often find that I stay longer in the pose beacause I don’t want to let go. I suppose it’s similar to holding hands with your parents when you were younger, or with your partner. Binds offer a sense of security and stability. If you’re not falling out of them…
Stay connected xxx