Teacher: Was your last pose Garbha Pindasana?
Me: Umm, yes… (thinking I did something wrong)
Teacher: Baddha Konasana… it’s time.
This is what played out last Wednesday morning – the day before the new moon- at yoga. It was 7:15 am. I was hot, sweaty and thinking I was all but a few backbends and finishing poses away from beautiful, delicious, restorative savasana (relaxtion) when my teacher gave me the next pose.
Baddha Konasana… bound angle pose.
I’ve done this countless times. With blocks, straps, against a wall, on a bolster – every which way, you name it, I’ve done. All but one way… the Ashtanga Vinyasa way. All I have to say is %$!#@#%^!!!!!
Ok.. I have alot more to say than that (surely, you know me better by now?!) but at the time it took alot of self control and respect to not swear out loud. Instead, breathlessly I just kept saying “oh, wow”… don’t fooled, I wasn’t feeling any joy here, simply pain… and opening.
Now, most of my students know that I am the first to admit I have very tight hips. It’s something that I actually had to overcome mentally when doing my teacher training and in the first few months of teaching. In my head I would always think “how can I be a teacher when my hips are tight and I can’t even get into lotus pose (I can now, though!)… it took a while to realise that you don’t teach with your hips, you teach with your heart and your mind.
Either way, I had read that Baddha Konasana adjusted the Ashtanga Vinyasa way could be extremely painful and takes a lot of breath control and focus to get through. Let’s just say that was written for me…
To perform this posture it pays to have someone there to adjust you – it’s still an incredible pose without a teacher/adjustment, but really, to get into the hips and groin deeply you do need the adjustment.
Here is a step-by-step guide. Be warm! Don’t do this pose cold, you’ll regret it.
Step by Step
1. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, raising your pelvis on a blanket if your hips or groins are tight (this is the Iyengar in me – Ashtanga does it prop-free!)
2. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together.
3. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can. With the first and second finger and thumb, grasp the big toe of each foot, turning the soles of the feet up towards your face. Keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor.
If it isn’t possible to hold the toes, clasp each hand around the same-side ankle or shin.
4. Firm the sacrum and shoulder blades against the back and elongate the front torso through to the sternum.
5. Release the heads of the thigh bones (not the knees!) toward the floor – the knees follow.
6. Lead with the chest, aiming to bring your sternum to your own feet. here – your teacher/adjuster will lean into you (evenly against the lower back and thoracic spine) whilst pressing your outer thighs down – rotating out. Stay here for 5 slow, smooth breaths.
7. Inhale to come up.
8. Next, curve the spine forward and draw the head towards the feet – rounding the back. Your adjuster can keep their hands on your thighs, further opening the hips.
9. Stay here for 5 slow, smooth breaths.
10. To finish, stretch the legs out to release.
Baddha Konasana gets in deep – really, really deep. It can be a little painful… ok,
alot (my teacher said… don’t worry Claire, I hear it’s worse that child-birth) but it’s
well worth it.
Baddha Konasana stimulates the abdominal organs (ovaries, prostate gland,
bladder and kidneys). It stimulates the heart and improves circulation, stretches the
inner thighs, groins and knees, soothes menstrual pain and helps to prepare the
body for childbirth.
Give it a shot.
Signing off with an exhale.
Pause. Listen. Live.
P.s – groin or knee injuries definitely sit on a blanket and prop another two under the knees for support.