One of the most relaxing restorative poses, Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclining Bound Angle Pose is great for yoga practitioners of every level to ease the back, hips and groins.
(Pronounced as "SOUP-tah BAH-dah cone-NAHS-anna)
The Sanskrit word supta refers to any reclining posture. Baddha konasana means "a seated, bound angle."
Come into Baddha Konasana by sitting on your yoga mat and bending your knees to bring the soles of your feet together. Take a breath. As you exhale, lean back on your hands to gradually recline backward, lying down on the mat. Tuck your tailbone in to lie against the floor rather than pointing down into it and lengthen your spine. The back of your entire torso should rest on the floor.
Press your soles against each other to help roll your inner thighs outward. Pull your feet as close to your pelvis as you are able to. Visualize that the tops of your inner thighs are sinking down into your pelvis. Let your arms rest on the mat by your sides at 45-degree angles from your body. Your palms should face the ceiling. Relax your hands and arms, letting them sink into the floor.
Instead of trying to push your knees down, focus on stretching your groins open. Let gravity do the work of relaxing your legs to slowly bring them closer to the floor. You can rock your sacrum gently from side to side to loosen the groins, alternating between letting one knee and then the other come closer to the floor.
Hold the pose for a minute. As you get used to it, hold it a little longer each time you practice it. When you are ready to come out of the pose, lift your thighs back together with your hands and roll over onto your right side. Push yourself back up to a sitting position with your hands. Let your head come up last.
Supta Baddha Konasana
Those with stiff hips and groins may feel an uncomfortable strain while attempting this pose. Therefore, it is better to increase your flexibility gradually over time by performing this pose using blankets, bolsters and blocks.
Place a bolster behind your back to support your entire spine from your sacrum to your head. Sit so that only your tailbone rests against the mat while the rest of your torso lies on top of the bolster. If you do not have a bolster, then lie down the same way on top of two stacked, trifolded yoga blankets. Place a folded blanket on top of your back support to cushion your neck and head. As you put the soles of your feet together and pull your feet toward your pelvis, position a yoga block underneath each of your thighs near your knees.
For most people, it is enough to keep the blocks at their lowest height on the floor. However, you can turn the blocks up to add more height in any variation of this pose if you have pain when you try to lower your bent knees. The more height you have under your thighs, the less strain you will have on your groin and hips.
Then if you want an even deeper release, you can place a sandbag across the tops of both of your thighs where the top of the leg joins the pelvis. Make sure not to add sandbags unless you also have support under your legs.
Stretch your back out further by involving your arms in the pose as well. After you are in the full posture, stretch both arms straight up and over your head. Extend your arms fully until they lie on the floor above your head with the fingers pointing away from your head. Then bend your elbows. Cross your arms above your head as you grab the left elbow with your right hand and grab the right elbow with your left hand. Push the elbows down toward the floor while opening your armpits and shoulders.
If Supta Baddha Konasana is easy for you without any supports underneath your thighs, then you can go deeper in the pose by placing a yoga block under your pelvis. Keep the block at its lowest height and position the block so that it supports your sacrum. Then press the soles of your feet together and let your knees descend out to the sides again, coming into the rest of the pose as you did before.
Ask a partner to check your positioning and overall alignment in the pose, pointing out the aspects of your posture that you cannot see. With your back supported, they should walk around you and check from every angle that you centered yourself on your support without leaning to one side. They can push your torso to guide it back to the center. They should check that the support under your head keeps your forehead level with the floor. They can help turn the outside edges of your shoulders out to spread the collarbone and help the upper arms descend more toward the floor. Your chest should lift up so that the pectoral muscles point straight up to the ceiling.
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