by Jessica Young
Let It Go! Find your forward surrender in our seated forward fold, the newest pose in our keeping calm yoga series.
Our final pose, brought to you by Tula Yoga, is a seated pose to help you find some stillness, opening and surrender in this time of transition. Baddha Konasana, or Bound Angle Pose, is a seated pose that almost anyone can do, regardless of your skill level. It helps to open your hips and groins, and strengthen your spine. Taking variations of this pose on your menstrual cycle and alleviate cramps, ease heavy bleeding and reduce the “heavy” feeling in your abs that may come with your period. This is a great pose to do near the beginning of your practice, to stretch and warm up, and it also makes a great pose near the end, to take passively and rest.
To begin, sit on your mat with your legs stretched straight in front of you. Make sure to lift the flesh of your buttocks out from your hips, so that your sits bones can ground into the earth, helping you to feel stable. If you feel your lower back rounding, or like you might tip backward, elevate your hips by sitting on top of a folded blanket, a bolster or a block. From here, inhale as you bend your right leg and rotate it outward from your hip; exhale and lower your leg so that the outer edge of your foot is on the ground. Inhale, and do the same with your left leg, so that your feet are touching sole-to-sole.
From here, consider how you feel: are you feeling a strong pulling sensation? If so, you may be at the full expression of the pose here. Do you need more support? Try reaching your hands behind you to the floor, or take this pose against a wall to encourage your spine to lengthen. Are you in any pain? Consider placing support under your knees, or allow your feet to move further away from your body. If you’re ready for more stretch, move deeper into the pose by opening your feet like the pages of a book. Exhale and press gently with your elbows into your inner thighs and feel the stretch in your groins. Imagine a string pulling your thighs away from your body gently, so that your legs aren’t just moving down, but also out. Inhale, and as you exhale, fold forward any amount.
Folding forward is a truly active expression of this pose...and it can be tempting to use your elbows as leverage and crank your body further than it’s ready to go. Be attentive to your body—if you’re feeling the pose, you’re doing the pose.
If you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed, try the supported version of Bound Angle pose. Dress warmly before you put yourself in this pose; your heart rate will slow, which will make you feel cooler, so think long sleeves or warm socks. Place a bolster or firm pillow the length of your spine on your mat, so that their long edges are parallel. At the top of the bolster, place a folded blanket to serve as a support for your head. Sit in front of the bolster and inhale your legs in and feet together, as in the original expression. Place a block under each knee so that your thighs and groins can soften. Lie back onto your bolster, with your knees supported by blocks. If you feel your feet begin to slide on your mat, or would like to pull them in, take a second small blanket, fold it in half and roll it lengthwise like a noodle, then place the center of it on top of your feet, and take the edges down and around, and tuck underneath your thighs, which will hold the edges, and therefore your feet, in place. After you lie back open your arms out to the sides so that your palms face up. Relax. Shut your eyes, and if it helps, place a folded hand towel or eye pillow over your eyes. Let your breath be soft and even, and release any effort.
Feel the earth holding and supporting you. Soften your belly, relax the muscles of your face, allow your shoulder blades to move down your back and together, and rest. Quiet your mind by turning inward to focus on your breathing. Stay in this Supported Bound Angle Pose for three minutes, or as long as feels good.
Supported Bound Angle Pose is a great time to tune in to yourself. Tula Yoga teacher Amanda has one hand over her belly and another over her heart, bringing her awareness to the center of herself. With your hands in this placement you become aware of your breathing, and can follow each inhale and exhale to its end, which creates a kind of meditative state. Enjoy the rest and recharge that Supported Bound Angle has to offer.