If you are looking for an in-depth talk about the Banana pose, then you have landed in the right spot. In this article, we will cover everything there is to know about the Banana pose, and we will end the article with a blissful 60-minute yin yoga sequence, which, of course, will include the Banana pose.
Most people tend to like Banana pose, and it’s a pose which the vast majority of people can do as it is easily accessible, and there are not many contraindications. The pose is very relaxing, and it is wonderful as one of the very last poses of a yin yoga sequence. The pose is not the most intense yin pose there is, however, it gives you a wonderful opportunity to stretch the entire side of your body. It is also a pose that is relatively easy to let go in and relax. We are sure you will come to love this pose if you don’t already love it!
Remember, during a yin yoga practice feelings may arise to the surface. That is perfectly normal and nothing you should panic about. Simply observe the thoughts and emotions that may arise during your practice. Avoid analyzing, going into the emotions, or pushing them away. See, if you can simply observe whatever arises with an equanimous mind. Remember; you are not your thoughts and feelings, you are just the one experiencing them. So breathe, and remind yourself that nothing is permanent, and whatever arises will eventually dissolve again.
A word on ‘good alignment’
Before we dive deeper into the Banana pose we would like to take a moment to talk a bit about alignment in general, yoga teachers facilitating a space where students can tune in and listen to their bodies, and students taking responsibility for their own body and yoga practice.
If you have been practicing yoga for some time chances are you have heard at least one teacher talking about ‘good alignment’ but what is ‘good alignment’? Is it copying a picture you have seen in a book or on Instagram? Is it having every student in the room looking the exact same in any given pose? Should we all strive to the same aesthetic ideal?
No, we do not believe that is ‘good alignment’, and we don’t believe that you should ever strive to make a pose (any pose) look a certain way. There is no such thing as ‘universal alignment’. We all have unique bodies with different ranges of mobility, flexibility and strength. We each come with our own story, and to think we can (and should) all look the same in a pose is simply delusional, and it will not lead to anything good.
Take Banana pose for instance. Some people are prone to experience tingling in their arms and may need to support their arms on a bolster to avoid these tingling sensations. Others may have lower back problems that prevent them from going deep into the pose. Then there are people whose body is like soft butter, and they may need to go deep into the pose to feel a stretch. Everyone is doing the pose correctly, and they are working with the body they have.
To assume we should all look the same in a pose is unintelligent, and instead of working with the body we are working against it. Now, this is not to say we should just dismiss alignment altogether. It is more about working with ‘functional alignment’ instead of ‘universal alignment’. This means we work more with each individual body and explore the pose and how it feels rather than thinking we should all have our hands and feet in the exact same place in a pose.
Start tuning into your body and explore the pose and notice how it feels. Think of your yoga teacher’s cues as mere guidelines, and remember to listen to your own body. At the end of the day you are the only one who can feel what is going on in your body, and whether something feels right or wrong. Respect and listen to your teacher’s cues but remember that ultimately you are in control, and there are many right ways to do the same pose.
Banana pose- benefits, contra indications, modifications & getting in and out of the pose
In this part of the article we will dive into different aspects of the Banana pose so you will feel confident and safe practicing this pose by yourself after reading this article. And remember; always, always, always listen to your body. If you feel any pain, slowly come out of the pose. Modify if need be, and respect your body’s limitations (both physically and mentally). Never force anything. Simply just let go.
- A wonderful way to stretch the whole side of the body
- The pose works the spine in a lateral flexion (side bend) from the IT (iliotibial) band to the tops of the side rib cage
- Stretches the oblique stomach muscles and the side intercostal muscles between the ribs
- Some may also feel a lovely stretch in the armpit
- We actually already mentioned this earlier but for good measure we will mention it again. If you are prone to tingling in the hands or arms when extending your arms overhead, you may need to place a bolster under the arms. Alternatively, you can also bring the arms down by your side. However, you will lose a bit of the stretch so we recommend you try with a bolster first.
- If you have lower back issues, you may wish to not go too deep in this pose. Listen to your body, and if you experience any pain back out.
Getting into the pose:
Start by lying on your back, and then reach your arms overhead and clasp your hands or elbows. Now, keep your buttocks on my mat while moving your feet/legs and upper body to the right side so you are shaped like, yes, you guessed it, a banana. Avoid rolling or twisting your hips off the floor. Find your edge, and stay here. Then do the pose on the left side.
Coming out of the pose:
This pose is super easy to come out of. Simply move your legs and upper body back to the center, and take your arms down the side.
- If prone to tingling sensations in your hands and arms when overhead, you can place a bolster under your arms.
Fun thing to do:
- If it feels nice you can cross your ankles in this pose once you have found your edge. Place your left ankle on top of your right ankle when doing the pose on the right side and vice versa on the other side.
- This pose moves the spine and the rib cage in a lateral flexion.
Meridians and organs affected:
- This pose is especially fantastic for the gall bladder meridian, which runs along the side of the body.
- When stretching your arms overhead, you may also be stimulating the heart and lung meridians.
Recommended hold time:
- We recommend students hold this pose between 3-5 minutes.
- If you feel fine in the pose, you can always stay in the pose for more than 5 minutes. 3-5 minutes is more of a guideline or a rule of thumb, but if you feel like staying longer, by all means feel free to do so.
60 minute sequence with Banana Pose
While the Banana pose is a wonderful pose to do on its own either when you need a little work break, you feel like stretching the side of the body, or you simply just feel like lying down for a ew minutes, the pose is also wonderful in a yin yoga sequence.
This 60 minute sequence is specifically made for the gallbladder and liver meridians (as mentioned earlier the Banana pose targets the gallbladder meridian). The sequence is lovely for stretching your outer thighs and hips and opening up your hips.
You can do this sequence on its own or after a yang practice. Whatever you feel like. Yin yoga can be done any time of the day but we personally love practicing yin yoga in the afternoon or evening as you don’t always feel like working or being super active (both physically and mentally) after yin yoga. Actually, yin yoga is a lovely way to decompress after a long day. It helps calm down the nervous system, and it helps you unwind and get ready for bed.
We have already mentioned it but we cannot stress this enough. Listen to your body while practicing, and if something feels off it probably is off. Pain is always a one-way ticket out of any pose. Respect, listen and honor your body.
Always come in and out of the poses slowly and mindfully, and remember to do a rebound in between the poses where you just relax and refrain from moving. Simply just observe any sensations, feelings and thoughts that have arisen after the pose.
Lastly, you can do savasana for as long as you like but we recommend you spend at least five to ten minutes in savasana. Savasana is just as important as any other pose so don’t skip it.
Now, let’s get to the sequence and we hope you will have a beautiful practice.
Note: you can always refer to yinyoga.com if you have any doubts about any of the poses.
60 minute sequence
5 min. meditation + Dan Tien breathing
Start in a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and notice your breath. Just sit here for a couple of minutes while observing your breath, without looking to change it. Now start deeping your breath and breathe all the way into your belly. Exhale fully. This is called the Dan Tien breathing. If possible, see if you can continue to do this deep belly breathing throughout your practice. It will help you relax, let go and just melt into the poses.
After 5 minutes, slowly open your eyes and prepare for the first pose.
Butterfly – 4 minutes
Now come into your Butterfly pose and stay here for four minutes. Continue to breathe deeply and let go as much as you can.
Come into your rebound for a minute or two and simply observe what happens after the pose.
Lateral Dragonfly – 3 minutes each side
After your rebound come back up to seated and come into Dragonfly. Start by stretching your left arm to the side, and then after three minutes switch to the right side and stay here for another three minutes.
Time for a lovely rebound again.
Sleeping Pigeon – 4 minutes each side
Start by doing Sleeping Pigeon on your left side and switch to your right side afterwards. Stay on each side for four minutes.
You can do this rebound on your belly if you wish. You are also welcome to do it on your back.
Shoelace – 4 minutes each side
Start with your left leg on top of your right leg, and then switch the sides after four minutes. You can rest your arms in front of you wherever it is comfortable. If you wish to work a bit more with your side body you can do this pose lateral (in the same way you just did a lateral Dragonfly). It’s up to you.
Enjoy your rebound before the next pose.
Twisted Roots – 3 minutes each side
Start by lying down on your back here, take your arms out to the side, bend your knees, and then wrap your right leg around your left leg. Slowly lower your legs to the left side and stay here for three minutes before repeating the pose on the other side.
Another rebound. See if you can just let go fully and observe what is happening in your body and mind after the pose.
Banana pose – 4 minutes each side
Our last pose for today is the Banana pose! Start on your left side or the love of yin.
9 min. Extended Savasana
The last rebound for today. Relax, chill out and simply just enjoy a Savansana to let all your meridians free flow!
We hope you have enjoyed both this article and the sequence.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment, and we will get back to you.
Alex & the Yin-LoveTeam
PS: Here is a little video from our training at the Body-Mind-Soul Centre of one of our chanting circles.
Interested in learning more and becoming a yin yoga therapy teacher?
See what Yin Yoga Therapy Ambassador Jess from Australia shares about her experience.