Powerhouse Exercise: Binding and Sliding

This post comes with a shout out to Jenny Otto who shared this with me many years ago. This pose is no joke. It is something I only rarely teach in class, and when I offer it to clients it comes with a caveat that it is some intense business.

Also, more and more over time I find doing exercises on one’s own, and even in yoga class, is not necessarily helpful. I have been playing with doing some exercises from YouTube and related sites and though I feel that I am fully capable of doing most exercises correctly (I have fifteen years of teaching experience to apply to anything I try), so many exercises are incredibly subtle and a quarter inch of movement in one direction or the other can have profound consequences.

This isn’t to say that everyone needs to hire a professional to learn exercises privately but it is very easy to work out in a way that is not the best for your body. Too easy in my opinion.

The inner foot is essential to my teaching. In my yoga classes I go on and on about grounding into the mound of the big toe. One of the main patterns that I am teaching, especially in forward bends is: Inner foot down, inner knee forward, inner thighs back. Another one is inner foot down, outer calves (peroneal muscles) in, inner thighs back. They are essentially the same thing, connecting the mound of the big toe to the inner upper thigh and the psoas.

Binding and Sliding is nothing more than a leg tracking exercise that hits all of these points. Different people have varied experiences with the pose. Some get wiped out in the peroneal muscles of the outer calf, while others suffer from an IT band and Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle that freaks out and goes into spasm.

Granted when I tighten the belt around the calves I make it ridiculously tight but this is what makes it effective in my mind and forces the legs to move as they should.

binding and sliding     binding and sliding

On that note, here is Binding and Sliding.
  • Place a block between your feet and a block between your inner thighs.
  • Keep the big toes on the block and do your best to pull your heels slightly away from the block.
  • Belt the calves as tight as you can a couple of inches below the knee around the meat of the calf muscle.
  • Draw the knees towards your chest keeping your heels on the floor. Extend the legs back out.
  • Try to keep your feet even, pressing through the inner foot and drawing the outer foot back.

The emphasis on the exercise is inner thigh, outer calf, and mound of the big toe on the inner foot.