Saturday, June 4, 2011


Ever find yourself in a bind? You know, you have to get the kids to soccer practice AND you have to be at an important meeting at the same time. Or you've been asked to speak at a benefit event on a particular evening AND you have tickets to see your favorite music group in concert the same night. Or even more simply, you don't know which outfit to wear one morning. These may not seem like very significant binds to be in. There are certainly more emotional and/or physical binds that we can find ourselves in: should I really be in this relationship? which college should I attend? do I get surgery on my knee or live with the pain? The question do you get yourself OUT of these binds?

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed when we are faced with such a question, especially when the decision appears to be quite confusing or nearly impossible to make. You may think, "how will this effect me and my life journey?" "How will my decision effect other people?" Before you have to make the decision, why not just take a moment, pause, and take a few breaths. A simple clearing of the mind may help your decision making to get out of the bind.

This yoga practice gives us insight into how we often put ourselves into our own binds, but it also shows how we have the strength and aptitude to get ourselves out of those binds.

Bound Extended Side Angle Pose (Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Start by standing in Warrior Pose with your right foot forward on your yoga mat. Your torso will be long and tall, perpendicular to the floor. Here you may set your intention. Take a few deep breaths to clear your mind. From here, slowly extend you right hand and arm forward out over your right thigh. This will create an angle in the torso, about 45 degrees. Once you can no longer extend your arm forward creating this angle in the upper body, rotate your arms so your left arm is extending upward toward the ceiling and your right arm is extending down toward the floor. (Be sure your torso remains open to the side of the room rather than facing down toward the floor.)

Here is where you will create the bind in the pose. Bring your left arm down behind you. See if you can wrap it around your waist or have your hand up close to your right hip rather that along your buttocks. Next, reach your right arm underneath your right thigh. Bend that arm to reach up for your left set of fingers. (If you are unable to bring your two hands together behind you in this bind, using a prop like a towel or strap may help you get into this pose.) See if you can keep your right arm along your hamstring rather than directly between your legs.

As you are able, continue extending your spine so that the crown of your head is pointing directly forward just as your right knee is pointing directly forward. Your heart and torso will still be open to the side of the room. Hold this posture for 5-10 breaths. Feel the pressure this creates in your legs, arms, back, and hips. Allow this to mimic the binds that we sometimes find ourselves in. Squeeze a little tighter to experience how challenging some of those life binds can be. After your series of breaths, slowing begin to move out of the pose....out of the bind. Take your time, so you can fully experience the sensation of release. Feel how the body, mind, and breath feel free as you have now moved out of the bind. Make your way back up to Warrior Pose. Come to a full standing posture (Mountain Pose) before you do the other side.

It is common for us to face situations in our lives where we will feel overwhelmed with complicated decision making. We worry about the outcome and how it might effect other people like our partners, co-workers, children, and friends. Be mindful that whatever decision that is made, has been made with honesty, a sense of honor and compassion, and with intention.


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