HOW TO PRACTICE Bound Angle Pose IN YOGA (Baddha Konasana)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Bound Angle Pose
Bound Angle Pose (Sanskrit name: Baddha Konasana) looks simple, but for people with tight hamstrings, it’s not necessarily easy to sit with a neutral, extended spine in this position. Bound Angle Pose is especially challenging for people whose hip joints are more amenable to internal rotation than they are to external rotation. If your knees reach high into the air, you may feel tempted to press the knees to the ground to encourage the hips to stretch. But, this is contraindicated for most yoga students as its usually due to hip structure, rather than muscle tightness, and can cause strain in the hip joints. Many yoga practitioners benefit from practicing this asana with their hips elevated on folded blankets or a bolster.
Benefits of Bound Angle Pose
Baddha Konasana stretches the inner thighs, hamstrings, and outer hips. It creates space in the lower back while cultivating length in the spine. Providing a stable base for the pelvis–especially if your hips have enough padding beneath them to allow your spine to lengthen–creates an opportunity to free your breath.
A key to Bound Angle Pose is to find the placement that is right for your body. In the yoga posture it should not be difficult to sit with your hips in balance, your legs comfortably situated, and your spine erect. Look for a pleasant sensation of stretch in your hips and inner thighs and a relaxed feeling of ease in your knees.
Problems arise when yoga students try to force what they think the asana should look like, disregarding the fact that not all hip sockets and femur heads are shaped the same. Tight hamstrings can also make any yoga seated position extra challenging. Should you have difficulty finding a comfortable way to sit in Bound Angle Pose, check out some of the variations in the Yoga 2.0 tab. There you are sure to find a version that may better suit your unique structure.
Once you find your perfect Bound Angle Pose, it can have a soothing effect on your nervous system. It can also prepare your body for seated meditation or breath work (Pranayama). Experimenting with altering the distance of your feet from your body can help to offset the tightness that comes from a day of extended sitting time or strenuous exercising. Practice Baddha Konasana at the end of your yoga sequence, on its own at the end of a long day, or during your bedtime routine to elicit relaxation and help calm your body for sleep.
How to Practice Bound Angle Pose
- Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) on a yoga mat. Have a couple yoga blocks and firm blankets handy.
- Bend your knees, externally rotating your thighs, and extend your knees out to the sides. Place the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall out to the sides. If the resulting inner thigh stretch is too much for you today, or if your knees are uncomfortable, place blocks or blankets under your lower thighs (just above your knees).
- Notice if your pelvis is tilting forward or backward. If it is tilting backward, place a folded blanket (or two) under your pelvis to elevate your hips above your ankles. (You can tell if your pelvis is tilting backward by palpating your lumbar spine. If you feel the vertebrae poking out, your pelvis is tilting backward.)
- Place your hands on your feet, or if you can reach, on the floor in front of your feet. You can also help your spine lengthen upward by placing your hands behind you, pressing down into the floor and allowing the rim of your pelvis to tilt forward.
- Take a few breaths, grounding your glutes and lengthening your spine. Notice, and try to release any tension, particularly in your face, neck, or shoulders. Here, you have sthira and sukha, a dynamic balance of stability and fluidity, of effort and ease.
- Stay here, or if your hips allow it, leading the forward bend with your pelvis, reach your spine forward, only going as far as you can while maintaining length in the spine.