September Yoga Pose of the Month: SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA—Lying Down Bound Angle Pose, By Katja Huiras

Katja HuirasNamaste  everyone.  As school has begun again, we know that the summer is almost over and for a lot of us our everyday has become busier and maybe even more stressful.  For this reason I thought it to be a good idea to break down a restorative pose for you.  Supta Baddha Konasana or Lying Down Bound Angle Pose (or Lying Down Cobbler’s Pose) is a supine resting pose that rejuvenates by creating openness in your body and by calming your nervous system. It can be practiced with or without props. In this article I would like to share instructions of the classical version of the pose.  It requires no props and uses the arms for support.  At the end of the article I will show you some variations with props.  So, lets align the classical pose and as refinement all you need to do is to try to relax even more!

 

Supta Baddha Konasana  1Instructions for Supta Baddha Konasana (the classical pose):

  1. Lie supine on your mat and bend your knees towards your chest.  Bring your upper arms to the outside of your legs and grab a hold of the front of your ankles, pulling your heels close to your buttocks—if necessary to get a better grip of the ankles, you can lift your head and upper back off the floor. Then bring your head and toes back onto the floor, keeping the feet close to the buttocks.
  1. Now let your knees fall out to the sides and bring the soles of your feet together.
  1. Press the pinkie toe sides of your feet into the floor to lift the buttocks away from the mat. Now roll your upper arms out and tuck your shoulders under.  This will help you bring your outer shoulders down to the floor and encourage your chest to be lifted. As a guide: your elbow creases will face up to the ceiling.
  1. Lengthen the top buttocks flesh towards the foot end of your mat as you lower the hips back down to the floor. Your outer hips/top of the thighs will now rest on your forearms as a support.
  1. Notice how the hands holding onto the ankles gives you good leverage to keep your chest lifted in the pose.
  1. Supta Baddha Konasana 2Stay in the pose for 30-60 s. As your become more familiar with the pose and if you can keep your groins relaxed, you can increase the time you spend in this pose.
  1. As an option, you can release the grip of your ankles and stretch your arms overhead with the hands on the floor and the palms facing the ceiling.  Here you will get a good stretch in the front of your torso.  Stay for another 30-60 s and as you get more familiar with this variation, increase the practice time. In this picture I placed blocks under my thighs for a relaxing support.
  1. In order to come out, bring your hands to the outside of your thighs and guide your knees together with your feet on the floor. Roll to the right and push yourself up to sitting.

Work in the pose:

 

  1. Have awareness for good alignment in the pose. So, make sure that your side waist is moving to the floor and have your hip points lift towards your navel, so that you don’t overarch your lower back. You want to keep a neutral lumbar curvature.
  1. Keep your chest lifted.
  1. Allow your knees to descend towards the floor.  If its too intense for your groins or your groins begin to harden, place blocks or rolled up blankets under your thighs for support.  This being said, allow the groins to relax
  1. RELAX your whole body!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s look at some variations for Supta Baddha Konasana:

Supta Baddha Konasana 3Picture 1:     Required props: bolster or 2 blankets folded lengthwise and stacked to resemble a bolster, a blanket folded as a pillow for under your head, 2 rolled up blankets or blocks to place under the outer thighs to support the groins (optional).

In this variation you will sit in front of the bolster set-up on the floor.  I usually sit so that I have a 2 finger width distance to the bolster.  This way I ensure that once I’m in the pose, the support will  be at the top of the  sacrum.

All this support under the body will help you relax more easily.

 

Supta Baddha Konasana 4Picture 2:     Required props: 2 bolsters (or blankets folded and stacked like the bolsters) and a strap.  I’m using an  additional folded blanket under my head.

Here you will lie supine on the floor.  Two bolsters will be horizontally in front of you and you will rest your lower legs on them.  For extra support have a yoga belt loop wrapped around the back of your pelvis (top of sacrum) and around the ankles. Your buttocks will be close to bolster set-up.

This variation is good if you feel discomfort in your lower back.

 

Supta Baddha Konasana 5Picture 3:     Required props: 2 bolsters (or blankets folded and stacked like the bolsters), for extra support use a yoga strap like in picture 2. It is helpful to have 2 blocks or rolled blankets under the thighs. Not seen in this picture and optional—have a block under your buttocks.

The 2 bolsters will be at the head side of your mat. They will be placed horizontally and about 2 inches apart.  Sit on a block in front of these bolsters with your feet in Baddha Konasana.  Lie back so that  your back coils over the first bolster, your shoulders will roll down into the space between the bolsters and your neck and head will rest on the second bolster.  Have your arms extend out to the sides with palms facing the ceiling.

This variation helps open and lift the chest more – it encourages the tops of the shoulders to roll down to the floor.  Sitting on a block can aid in relaxing the pelvic area.

 

Supta Baddha Konasana 6Picture 4:      Required props:  2 bolsters (have at least one bolster for this set up.  The bottom bolster can replaced by a 2 blanket alternative), a looped strap and for comfort possibly a few blankets.

Have one bolster (or blanket alternative) horizontally on the middle of your mat and stack the other bolster vertically on top at their centers.  Sit on this set up in Baddha Konasana with the strap loop around your pelvis and ankles. Slide towards the foot end until the outer edges of your feet rest on the floor.  Lie back over the bolster cross with your head on the floor and have your arms out to the sides. If you feel discomfort in your lower back add blankets under your head and feet until you feel more comfortable

This variation adds a backbend to the pose.

Supta Baddha Konasana 7Picture 5:      Required props: a bolster (or the 2 blanket alternative), a looped strap, a block and a blanket.

The bolster will be vertical on your mat.  Sit on the bolster with your feet in Baddha Konasana with the looped strap, then lie back. Hold the sides of the bolster and slide towards the head side until the back of your head and the top of your shoulders are on the floor. The block topped with a folded up blanket  serves as a support under your feet.

This variation is a combination of Supta Baddha Konasana and Setu Bandhasana/Bridge pose.  The bolster position supports the chest opening in a restorative way.

 

Supta Baddha Konasana 8-9Picture 6: this felt very relaxing. This is a combination of Legs-up-the-Wall pose (Viparita Karani) and Supta Baddha Konasana.  I’m gently pressing my knees toward the wall for some more opening in the pose.

Picture 7: Here I must admit, I did not feel relaxed, because I’m not a natural back bender.  I have my feet in Baddha Konasana and supported in a looped strap which is attached to the backrest of the chair.  In this picture I’m combining the Supta Baddha Konasana with a chair backbend (Chair Dwi PadaViparita Dandasana)

 

Helpful Sources:

  1. The Woman’s Yoga Book by Bobby Clennell, published by Rodmell Press, Berkley, California, 2007
  1. Yoga, The Iyengar Way by Silva, Mira and Shyam Mehta,  published by Dorling Kindersley Book, New York, 2008
  1. Yoga, A Gem For Women by Geeta Iyengar, published by Timeless Books, California, 1990

Katja Huiras is a certified Yoga teacher who teaches Align+Refine Yoga classes at the Yoga Loft in Bethlehem.  She received her 200 hr certification at the Yoga Loft and the 500 hr certification through the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA.  In 2009 she was introduced to Iyengar Yoga and was intensely inspired by its method. Since then she regularly studies and practices with certified Iyengar Yoga teachers.

Missed last month’s column? Read it now:

August’s Yoga Pose of the Month: Marichysana 3 – a Seated Twist Dedicated to the Sage Marichi

July’s Yoga Pose of the Month: ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA – Downward Facing Dog Pose

June’s Yoga Pose of the Month: VIRABHADRASANA 2 – Warrior 2 Pose, by Katja Huiras