Trauma can show up as tension, anxiety, or illness. Some common places of binding are the pelvis, the diaphragm, the throat, the jaw, and the hamstrings.
The Pelvis: Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Bound Angle Pose, also known as Cobbler’s Pose, is a great release for the pelvis. We tend to bind in the pelvis when we feel threatened. We need adrenaline when we’re in real danger, but the feeling can become a default mode that exhausts us. This pose releases the hips, and can safely be held for 5–10 minutes.
The Diaphragm: Pond Pose (Tadagasana)
Binding in the diaphragm can be the result of panic. Stretching out the body in Pond Pose lengthens the abdominal cavity and opens the chest so that the diaphragm can move easily. When the breath is free, the nervous system is calm and we feel less desperation.
Lie on your back, lengthen both legs, and press both thighs down into the floor. Lengthen your waist by moving your ribcage away from your hips. Extend your arms overhead, straighten them, and reach strongly until you feel a suction, or a "pond," in your belly.
The Throat: Upward-Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Our throats become locked when we’re holding back something that needs to be said (the "lump" in your throat). Upward-Facing Dog moves clearing energy from the Earth into the throat through the power of the legs and the beautiful arc of the spine, flushing out those blockages.
The Jaw: Lion Pose (Simhasana)
The jaw is a very strong joint and tends to lock when we try to hold back impulse or desire (one that has an emotional source.) When the jaw locks up, the hips also tend to lock up and one can feel immobile. By opening the mouth wide and sticking your tongue out to its full extension while exhaling in Lion Pose, the jaw opens completely, which helps to release the tension in the jaw.
The Hamstrings: Pyramid Pose (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
We’ve all experienced the act of “running away” from feelings that make us uncomfortable or afraid. The hamstrings are an important part of our fight-or-flight mechanism. Some say that we hold grief in the hamstrings, which is one of the most difficult emotions with which to stay present. Pyramid Pose releases the hamstrings and contracts their antagonist muscles, the quadriceps.