Bound Yoga Poses: Making the Clasp

There’s such a feeling of completeness being connected, limb to limb, in the embrace of a bound yoga pose. A yoga belt can certainly create that feeling of fullness, but nothing feels quite as “all-in” as when you make the clasp and hold your own hand or wrist.

Here are a few tips to help you with making (and being more comfortable in) the clasp of bound yoga poses.

Go Deep

namaskarTo successfully bind your arms in any yoga pose, you have to be deep in the set-up first.

Reach so deep in your preparation that your armpit or shoulder touches your leg or even passes beyond it. Only once you’ve made that giant reach do you go for the clasp.

Shoulder flexibility is key to going deep, so practice poses like Gomukhasana (Cow Face pose) and Reverse Namaskar (Hands in Prayer behind your back) to limber up.

If the bind originates in a twist, as in Ardha Matsyendrasasa (Half Lord of the Fish Pose) then your best bet is to warm up by doing a lot of twisting poses first. This makes it easier on your shoulders, and puts you deeper in the pose —both things make it more likely you’ll be able to bind.

How To Hold On

Maybe it’s just me, but I always used to get confused when I would bind my arms. Which hand holds which wrist again? I’d go back and forth, wasting time, trying to feel which way felt “right.” Until this mnemonic device, that is.

The wrapper is the grabber.

Simple, right? The arm that wraps around the leg is the one that grabs the other wrist. Now I always remember!

If you aren’t quite deep enough to get to your wrist in a bind, though, make the wrapping hand go palm up and out, rather than down. This sets you up for when you DO get to your wrist and also puts your shoulder in more comfortable alignment.


Pasasana, legs wide : Glacier Point, Yosemite, CA

Create Space

Most bound yoga postures are compact —some would even describe them as claustrophobic. Even those done standing, such as Svarga Dvijasana (Bird of Paradise pose) can feel this way.

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Bird of Paradise pose : Bishop, CA

Instead of allowing yourself to be scrunched, fill out the shape of the pose and make space for yourself.

Here are five ways to practice this:

  • Lengthen the sides of your torso, even if you are bowed forward
  • Press your shoulders back
  • Breathe into the back and sides of your body
  • Reach through the crown of your head until your neck feels long
  • Broaden your back, across your ribcage




Author’s note: This post was originally published on this site in 2013. It has been revised and edited  with more information and images