Bound Angle Pose: The Complete Guide

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Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) is a seated pose that stretches and opens your hip muscles, improves your posture, and lengthens your spine. It is also called Cobbler’s Pose, after the way shoemakers in India sit on the ground to do their work.

This pose engages both the upper and lower body. To practice this pose, ​​press your sit bones into your mat while lengthening your upper body. To keep the stretch focused on your hips and low back, stay long in your spine and try to keep it from rounding. You may hinge forward as you explore this pose, but the point of the pose is not to draw your chest toward your feet. It’s to create a stretch in the hips.

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Bound Angle Pose basics

Sanskrit: Baddha Konasana (BAH-dah cone-AHS-ah-nah)

baddha = bound

kona = angle

Pose type: Seated

Targets: Hips

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Benefits

Bound Angle Pose improves postural and body awareness. Because it stretches your inner thigh muscles (adductors) and the front of your thighs (quadriceps), it can help you recover after running. It’s also a helpful pose for people who spend a lot of time sitting in chairs.

Other Bound Angle Pose perks:

  • The actions in Bound Angle Pose are similar to some standing postures that call for you to open your hips. Practicing it improves your ability to hold poses such as Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) and Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose).
  • Practicing Bound Angle Pose helps you get comfortable with finding and exploring your edge. Doing so improves your ability to stay mindful at your physical limitations.

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Step-by-step instructions

  1. Begin in Staff Pose. Level your pelvis and sit directly on top of your sitting bones.
  2. Bend your knees and draw the bottoms of your feet together, allowing your knees to fall out to the sides.
  3. Press your shoulder blades against your upper back to lift through your sternum or chest. Clasp your ankles or feet and lengthen your arms to help you lift and lengthen your back.
  4. Use your hands to pull the soles of your feet away from one another as if you were opening the pages of a book.
  5. Maintain the pose from 1 to 5 minutes.
  6. To exit the pose, gently release your feet, straighten your legs, and come back to Staff Pose.

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Explore the pose

If you have tight hips, place rolled-up blankets under your thighs and lower legs. This can release tension in your hips and reduce strain on your knees.

If you need help activating your hips and inner thighs, place a block between your feet and press your feet firmly into the block, turning the soles to face upward. Then place your hands on the floor behind you and press into them to lengthen your spine. 

If you find yourself leaning back or rounding your back, try using a strap. Bring it behind your back, across your sacrum, over the tops of your thighs, and cinch it underneath your feet.  The strap should be tight enough to feel secure but not so restrictive that you feel compression in your hip joints. The strap will keep your lower back and hold your feet closer to your pelvis.

Be mindful!

  • If you have a hip or knee injury, perform this pose with folded blankets underneath your outer thighs to support them.
  • Don’t press the balls of your feet together in this pose—the pressure can cause tension in your lower body. Instead, press your heels together while drawing the balls of your feet away from one another. Maintain the pressure between your heels as you relax your thighs and release the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor; your knees will follow. 

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Bound Angle variations

Photo: Christopher Dougherty

Bound Angle Forward Bend

Lean forward whatever amount you can—even a few millimeters—by flexing at your hips while keeping a long spine. This may intensify the sensations in your inner thighs.

Photo: Christopher Dougherty

Bound Angle Pose with props

If your hips are relatively tight and your knees remain far from the ground, slide blocks, bolsters, or folded blankets under them for support. To help prevent slouching, sit on the front edge of a folded blanket or bolster. This will help tilt your pelvis forward so that you can come into the pose with a flat back.

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Preparatory and counter poses

Baddha Konasana is an intense hip stretch for many students, but there’s no need to force it. Ease your way into it by first practicing other poses that target your hip flexors. It helps to come into increasingly challenging hip stretches.

Preparatory poses

Counter poses

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Your body in Bound Angle Pose | Anatomy

Baddha Konasana is a symmetrical pose. In the pose, your hips flex and turn outward and your knees bend and move away from each other in a mirrored fashion. Because of this, the pose provides an opportunity for you to locate and balance asymmetries, particularly in your hips and pelvis, based on where you feel tightness, explains Ray Long, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and yoga teacher.

When you focus on specific components of the pose, you bring awareness to the nuances of each movement. Begin with abduction. Tight adductors can restrict your ability to draw your knees apart. When you begin, over time, to create length in those muscles, it will free your hips to open your knees.

In the drawings below, pink muscles are stretching and blue muscles are contracting. The shade of the color represents the force of the stretch and the force of contraction. Darker = stronger.

Illustration: Chris Macivor

Bend your knees by contracting the hamstrings. Engaging the hamstrings also draws the tailbone down and under because the hamstrings originate on the ischial tuberosities on the back of the pelvis. This tucking of the tailbone turns the hips outward and synergizes external rotation.

The sartorius muscle runs from the front of the pelvis to the inner knee. It flexes, abducts, and externally rotates your hip. When contracted, the sartorius feels like a cord at the front of the pelvis. This muscle also crosses the knee and thus aids the hamstrings in flexing and stabilizing this joint in the pose.

Engage the psoas muscle to flex and externally rotate the hips. A cue for this action is to place the hands on the knees and attempt to draw the knees toward the chest while resisting with the hands.

Squeeze the sides of the buttocks to abduct and externally rotate your hips, drawing your knees toward the floor. The gluteus maximus externally rotates the hips while the gluteus medius and tensor fascia lata abduct them. Activating these muscles stimulates reciprocal inhibition of the adductor group on the inner thighs, allowing them to relax into the stretch.

Note that when your hips are fully abducted, the contractile force of the tensor fascia lata and gluteus medius is far less because these muscles are shortened almost completely. At this point, it becomes necessary to engage your hamstrings and use your hands to draw your feet closer to the pelvis and your knees closer to the floor. The gluteus medius, tensor fascia lata, and gluteus maximus (the fibers that attach the iliotibial band) act together to provide that extra inch of abduction in the pose.

Illustration: Chris Macivor

Sit straight and tall by activating the erector spinae and quadratus lumborum muscles. Engaging these muscles transmits a force to your hands, which in turn hold your feet. When you connect your hands and feet, you create subtle depth in the pose. Flex your elbows by contracting the biceps and brachialis muscles. This draws the heels closer to the pelvis and increases the stretch of the adductor group on your inner thighs.

One approach to take the pose deeper is to bend your elbows to draw your body forward. Another variation is to remain more upright as you arch your back and draw your shoulder blades together to lift your torso upward, expanding your chest. Use your arms and hamstrings to draw your feet closer to the pelvis. Note that arching your lower back also tilts the pelvis forward, pulling on the hamstrings at their attachment on the sitting bones and drawing the lower legs closer to the thighs.

Excerpted with permission from The Key Poses of Yoga and Anatomy for Hip Openers and Forward Bends by Ray Long

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Put Bound Angle Pose into practice

5 Calming Yoga Poses You Can Do In 5 Minutes

7 Ways to Use Blocks to Open Your Hips (And Your Heart)

5 Yoga Poses to Safely Stretch Tight Groin Muscles


About our contributors

Teacher and model Natasha Rizopoulos is a senior teacher at Down Under Yoga in Boston, where she offers classes and leads 200- and 300-hour teacher trainings. A dedicated Ashtanga practitioner for many years, she became equally as captivated by the precision of the Iyengar system. These two traditions inform her teaching and her dynamic, anatomy-based vinyasa system Align Your Flow. For more information, visit natasharizopoulos.com.

Ray Long is an orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga, a popular series of yoga anatomy books, and the Daily Bandha, which provides tips and techniques for teaching and practicing safe alignment. Ray graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School and pursued post-graduate training at Cornell University, McGill University, the University of Montreal, and the Florida Orthopedic Institute. He has studied hatha yoga for over 20 years, training extensively with B.K.S. Iyengar and other leading yoga masters, and teaches anatomy workshops at yoga studios around the country.



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