Yoga is a thousands-year-old physical practice that has countless variations. Some are more traditional—focused on breath and creating internal peace and connection to the world around us. Others involve a more physical focus, with distinct effort put toward improving muscle strength. But there’s a subset of a yoga practice that connects every yogi, no matter what they choose to do: yoga binds.
Yogic binds are the simple process of rotating the torso and shoulders so that you can clasp the hands together. This takes practices to a deeper level by engaging muscles in unusual ways; it also benefits your digestive system, giving a boost to organs essential to that daily process.
Yogic binds don’t have to be extremely complicated or make you thing of a twisty-turny position that your body is destined never to achieve. They can be simply grabbing your hands behind your back and pulling your shoulders open. But of course, they can be twisty-turny, depending on how much you’re able to advance your practice. What it does take, though, is opening the mind and staying in the present. And yogic binds can be fun, of course.
You can’t dive into a yogic bind without some crucial warm-up, though—stretching and moving to generate warmth. Even an essential sun salutation can be a good step. And it’s crucial that you realize you can’t just push your arms into it—the other muscles in your body are helping you get there. And then there’s the twist—that’s where the digestive aid comes in.
Besides the physical practice, yoga binds help with flexibility—but they also create some mental balance, too—it’s hard, but not too hard.
There are some good yogic binds to work on, and this graphic works through what you need to know.