“. . . according to the Yoga Sutra (3.1), the term [Bandha] refers to the ‘binding’ of consciousness to a particular object or locus (desha), which is the very essence of concentration.”
Georg Feuerstein

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Balancing Freedom and Restraint in Yoga

The work of legendary furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames has been described as a balance of freedom and restraint.  Mr. Eames was once asked: “Have you ever been forced to accept compromises?” He responded: “I don’t remember ever being forced to accept compromises, but I have willingly accepted constraints.”

Practicing yoga also involves working within constraints--those of the general form of the human body and also our personal limitations. Yoga balances freedom and restraint.

Knowledge of the body shows us where to expand and where to restrict movement. It also allows us to design a practice to fit our individual needs. That’s why working with a modified version of a particular pose is not a compromise—it’s accepting constraints. I don’t abandon a beneficial asana simply because it’s difficult. Rather, I use awareness of my limitations as a guide for determining how to work in the pose.

For example, if I’m working towards Lotus Pose, I apply biomechanics and physiological reflex arcs to gain freedom of movement in the hips while at the same time using the muscular stabilizers and my hands to ensure congruency of the knee as a hinge. This is an example of balancing freedom with restraint. Since we also benefit from preparing the body for a pose, the journey itself becomes the reward.

Always, in your particular case, consult your health care provider before practicing yoga or any other exercise program. Always practice yoga under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor. See full disclaimer here.

Thanks for stopping by. Check in for our next post, when we'll go over more details on the hip abductors. Be sure to download our free interactive eBook. Also, don’t forget to tell your friends about our blog and to visit us on Facebook for your free chakra poster (we ask that you pay shipping and handling :)).


Ray and Chris

1De Pree, Hugh. Business as Usual. Zeeland (MI): Herman Miller; 1986.


  1. re "working with a modified version of a particular pose is not a compromise—it’s accepting constraints. I don’t abandon a beneficial asana simply because it’s difficult. Rather, I use awareness of my limitations as a guide for determining how to work in the pose." -

    this is such a fundatmental part of what i both practice and teach

    it's wonderful to see it expressed so well

    combining the above with the concept of portability, and walah! there's the broad spectrum multi-activity multi-pose idea that makes real sense to me

    thanks so much ;-)


  2. Thanks Adan--good to see it's working for you. All the Best~Ray