Raise your hand if you dislike bound yoga postures! Not sure about you, but my hand is most definitely raised.
I have never enjoyed bound postures. I’ve blamed it on my short arms and tight shoulders and just figured bound postures weren’t for me. Although I’m slowly gaining a better understanding of bound postures, I still don’t think I’ll ever fully enjoy working into binds. However, I now have a better appreciation for them.
First, turns out I have been doing and instructing bound postures in a slightly incorrect manner. For the longest time I would pull the elbow of my bound arm away from my body to open the shoulder. Turns out that action was pulling me out of the bind!
You know what you do when something isn’t working? Do the opposite!
Draw Your Forearm Against Your Body
In the last week or so while doing half bound postures I started to pull the forearm and elbow of the bound arm closer to my body. (This isn’t a technique I came up with on my own. It definitely came from my teacher.) Once I started to press my forearm into my body I was able to actually move my hand closer to my opposite hip and I had more freedom in my shoulder.
The images above show you the two different approaches. On the left I’m actively drawing my elbow away from my body. On the right I’m actively drawing my forearm and elbow into my body. The one on the right feels more comfortable in my shoulder plus I’m able to slide my hand over to my opposite hip with more ease.
Use Your Core to Rotate
You’ll notice that when you press your forearm into your body it’ll seem as though you’re unable to get a lot of rotation in your chest and spine. That’s true. However, you’ll just need to get more muscles to join in on the fun! Once you set up your half bound posture press your forearm into your body and then rotate your chest away from the floor by using your core muscles. This approach takes the strain out of your shoulder joint and asks your core to support the posture.
Above on the left I’m working a bound variation of Triangle Pose and drawing my elbow away from my body. I’m forcing the rotation to happen primarily from my shoulder joint. In the image on the right my forearm is pressing into my lower back, I’m able to slide my hand further toward my opposite hip, and I’m using my abdominal core muscles to rotate my chest away from the floor.
This approach has truly changed everything for me!
Want more explanation? I’ve got a short video below with more thoughts on bound postures!