To Try or Knot

The Shibari rope bondage technique is catching everyone’s attention for its potential to heal practitioners emotionally and give them an instant feel-good rush.

Published: 15th May 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th May 2022 11:42 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Two months ago, Indian celebrity travel blogger Shenaz Treasury dropped a video that showed her TIED up on her YouTube channel. The video, which went viral, asked viewers if they thought Treasury was into BDSM, an erotic practice featuring bondage, discipline, dominance and submission. A few minutes into the video, it was evident that it was a Japanese rope bondage practice used for emotional healing. Maksim Kalahari, a Shibari trainer, tells Treasury in Goa’s Morjim Beach that this energy when directed with a specific intention and the correct technique can heal the body, the mind and spirit.

That this practice is gaining ground is also evident from the fact that Kalahari hosted a two-day Shibari and impact play workshop last month in Goa. He called it a weekend filled with ropes, whips, sand, and the beautiful expanse of the ocean. 

Shibari Study, a New York-based alternative healing entity, has also announced online app-based classes for Shibari. Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure, said Bob Marley. Shibari sounds like a painful way to find true bliss.

Shibari is known to have originated from Hojo-jutsu, a form of torture before it transformed into the erotic bondage Kinbaku (Kinbaku-bi translates as “the beauty of tight binding”) in the 20th century. However, because of the ‘kinky’ label, this art form has earned, not many yoga practitioners or teachers offer such healing nor promote it.

Ishrath Ikram, a Hyderabad-based online yoga trainer on Instagram (@yoga.and.uu), says that in the last three years since she has been active as an instructor, she has never come across any of her students asking about it or mention. “The three major misconceptions I want to clear are that not everyone is in it for the sex. It isn’t dangerous (unless you want it to be) and people who participate aren’t psychotic, demented, or otherwise damaged. Perhaps they are more explorative and adventurous.”

Dr Pramod Kulkarni, a consultant haematologist at Alpha Hospitals, Hyderabad, says that blood accumulation in one specific area can’t heal anyone, that too in such a short while. “I would think that Dhanurasana would perhaps give the same result. It is perhaps just another fun, kinky act that is getting popular. It has not been scientifically studied,” he adds. Those who have had a taste of it feel that 
it heals relationships and broken hearts by teachinag us to trust and surrender again.

Author and meditation teacher Mila Kriletich writes in her blog: “The release, the blood rushing back through tight limbs, the slow falling, the coming undone. With each knot untied, each rope loosened, something in me let go, broke free, moved away. By the time the ropes were off I was in what I could only describe as a state of samadhi. This is a bliss state where you are at one with the universe and all that is. I sat there for a long time and then I placed my arms around my knees and hugged myself. I tightened my grip and suddenly I was overcome with a sense of deep love and care and protection for myself. I had never experienced a moment like this before and I was overcome with a deep and abiding affection for myself.” 

Naveena Kamath, a practicing psychologist with Disha Helpline in Bengaluru, says that pain when administered in a rationed and controlled way can lead to making one resilient and stronger. “When practitioners do this every week with discipline, it shows results at a psychological level. The act of tying up oneself and lying suspended horizontally is painful to the body. It is a novel workout for the body and mind. The rush of the blood and the position adds to its novelty,” she explains.

The process
✥ A professional Shibari master is necessary to tie one up. Alternately, some apps can show you how it’s tied. Ask a friend to do it
✥ Loosen limbs and arms, and warm up a bit
✥ The tying up involves intricate knotting with special rope available in yoga stores
✥  Hands are tied in front or back; the calves are tied together and the knees and thighs too. The knots are tied at various points tight enough that you can feel the rush of the blood, but not so much that you feel suffocated. Once the practitioner is ready, he/she is suspended horizontally from the rope tied to the ceiling using a hook. Most aerial yoga studios can provide such hooks.
✥  After 8-12 minutes, the ropes are untied gradually until you are free and feel relieved. The knots give a good blood rush to your brain and this is part of the healing/emotional outbursts. Those like Tejaswini Chada from Hyderabad who have experienced it say that tears rolled down their cheeks and it felt like ‘emptying’ oneself. There is a likelihood of the ropes create a mark on your skin as it is tightly wound around the body.


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