One of the beautiful aspects of Yoga asana is that regular, sattvic practice allows us to live free of pain or discomfort. That freedom applies to all forms of being – as pain in the body is connected to mental, emotional or spiritual pain.
One area in which people often experience the connection between body and emotion is in the hips. If you live from fear more than love, prana in your hip joints becomes stagnant, leading to tension and tightness that can diminish your range of movement and ability to enjoy life. Poses like baddha konasana, or bound angle pose, allow both physical and emotional release in the hips by inviting prana to flow freely and sweep away pain and stuck emotions.
The full expression of baddha konasana is a forward fold that allows you to find humility in the face of any resistance you feel in your body or mind. As you slowly extend forward, ask your ego to take a backseat and only move to your appropriate point. The goal of this pose is not to push your knees until they touch the floor or to touch your nose to your feet. Instead, allow your hips to gently relax open. Stay two steps away from your edge. You’ll gain much more out of the pose this way than if you push to or beyond your edge.
Add baddha konasana to the end of your practice or the end of a long day (especially if you typically sit in a chair) to cool down, calm the nervous system and connect with your breath. Making this pose part of your practice will lead to release and renewal – not just in your hips, but in all parts of your being.
Here at Hale Pule, we talk about asana with three designations: essence, anchor and strength. This is a simple tool to remember the intention of the pose, where your body is grounded and the muscles you engage for proper alignment. These components will support optimal energy flow and a sustainable practice throughout your life.
Baddha konasana from the ground up
There are two steps to this pose: In baddha konasana A, your focus is on extending the spine upright while releasing the hips and legs. In B, you fold forward and eventually let the spine gently round.
1. Sit on the mat with your legs straight out in front of your hips. Pull the fleshy parts of your buttocks straight back. Bring the heels and soles of your feet together, with the aim toward lining up your heels with your knees. Keeping your thumbs next to your fingers, hold your ankles or feet – wherever you can comfortably hold and keep your spine extended. Ground through your sit bones as you extend your spine up. This is baddha konasana A. Stay here for 15 to 20 breaths or move to B if you can fully extend your spine, including your low back and pelvis, while holding your feet.
Modification for baddha konasana A: If you are not able to bring your pelvis upright in baddha konasana A, place your fists or flat palms on the mat behind you. Practice this modification until you are able to sit with the low back upright.
2. To move to baddha konasana B, open your feet like a book, and press your heels and pinky toes together to engage your buttocks. Draw your belly and pelvis gently up and forward with an extended spine. Once your pelvis is at least 45 degrees forward, allow a gentle, subtle curve to come into your spine as long as you can keep the focus on bringing the pelvis forward. Hold for 15 to 20 breaths.
Common trouble spots
Rounding the spine prior to bringing the pelvis forward. Extend your pelvis forward with a straight spine. Then, if your movement allows, move your spine into a slight curve.
Excessively rounding the upper back by pulling with the arms and tensing the shoulders. Use gentle pressure to extend forward, keeping your shoulders moving down your back.
Folding forward in baddha konasana B without opening the soles of the feet. Opening the feet changes the position of the upper leg bone in the hip socket and is necessary for sustainable, comfortable long-term practice.