Pose Focus | Bananasana

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"In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Gallbladder meridian runs down the side body, starting at the outer eye and ending at the fourth toe. This Yin Yoga pose can help to stimulate energy along this pathway by creating pressure points. "

- Laura McDonald


This deliciously fruity posture can be practiced by most yogis, but if you are suffering from lower back pain go slowly and perhaps don’t go too deep into the pose. I have also shown some modifications that can be useful for shoulder injuries.


To come into the pose lie on your back with your legs together and straight on the floor. Reach your arms overhead and grab your elbows. Alternatively, you can clasp your hands or grab your wrist with your hand (when bending to the right grab the left wrist with the right hand, when bending to the left grab the right wrist with the left hand).

Keeping your buttocks firmly rooted to the ground move your upper body and feet towards the right, arching like a banana.
Play your edge, move tentatively at first and if the body is open to it move further to the right.

Another alternative is to cross the ankles when you have brought your feet out as far as you can. Most people feel the greatest stretch with the outside ankle crossing over the inside ankle, but some people feel more benefit crossing the other way. Try both ways!

The target area is the whole side of the body. Tugging, pulling, dull achy sensations are desirable but sharp pain anywhere or tingling in the fingers is definitely not. If the hands start to tingle, you can bring the arms by your side.

This posture can be held for 3 to 5 minutes each side or even 10 minutes to really let your banana ripen.

When coming out gently ease your body back to centre. Enjoy the feeling of rebound you get when coming out.

As a counter pose, you can hug your knees to your chest and circle your knees to massage the lower back.

Make sure you do both sides.

Here is a modification that can be used for shoulder injuries.


Bananasana works the spine in lateral flexion.

It’s a wonderful stretch for the whole side body. It stretches the oblique stomach muscles and the intercostal muscles. You might even feel a stretching of the armpit.

This pose also targets the Iliotibial (IT) band, if you feel a tug on the outer hip then you could be affecting the tensor fascia latae, and the gluteus maximus, two muscles which attach to the IT band. It’s a great pose for runners and cyclists.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Gallbladder meridian runs down the side body, starting at the outer eye and ending at the fourth toe. This Yin Yoga pose can help to stimulate energy along this pathway by creating pressure points (acupressure). We can further help the flow of energy by bringing our attention to the parts of our body where we feel sensation and with the help of our breath. Take time to tune into your experience and notice the sensations you feel.


The Gallbladder is responsible for storing Bile, a digestive enzyme produced by the Liver. It then secretes bile to the digestive organs to help with the digestion of fats.

The Gallbladder is the partner organ to the Liver in TCM and Spring is the perfect time to stimulate these meridians. Supporting these meridians can help us break through the stagnation of winter where we might have over indulged in fatty foods or excess alcohol.


According to TCM if we have a healthy Gallbladder we are better at making decisions, dysfunctions of the Gallbladder can make us indecisive. Springtime is the perfect time to let new plans come to fruition and let our creativity blossom.


Choosing poses that help stimulate energy along the Liver and Gallbladder meridians can help us get back that spring in our step.


For more information about Yin Yoga see ‘The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga’ by Bernie Clark.


Laura has been practising Yoga since 2005 and qualified as a Bikram Yoga Teacher at Bikram’s Yoga College of India in Palm Desert, California in 2009.

Since then she has taught full time all over London and beyond.
More recently she travelled to Vancouver, Canada to train with Yin Yoga teachers Bernie Clark and Diana Batts and is finding that this slower paced, meditative form of yoga is an excellent compliment to the more 'Yang' style practice of Bikram Yoga.

What Laura likes most about the yoga she teaches is it’s accessibility to all body types, all ages, all shapes and sizes and all abilities. She is committed to helping people find the therapeutic benefits of a yoga practice for themselves.

Find her at the following studios :

BYC Hot Yoga
The Yoga Quarter
Sweat Society Surbiton
Bikram Yoga Bristol
The Yoga Lounge, Bournemouth
Upcoming workshops at
Hot Yoga Health, Newport
Hot Yoga House, Eastcote


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