Yoga Pose of the Month: Supported Supta Badhakonasana

SuptaBadhakonasana2Winter is a time of restoration, relaxation and hibernation and therefore our daily activities should reflect our environmental needs.  Supta badhakonasana (lit. reclined bound angle pose) is arguably one of my most favorite restorative asanas that I use on a regular basis.   The “supported” version uses pillows or bolsters behind the back to increase the restorative nature of this pose and promote comfort, healing and relaxation even further.  This posture is useful for grounding the energy and calming the mind (aka Vata), relieving any stress and constriction in the body.  It is a great pose for women to practice during menstruation as it removes obstructed or stagnant energy in the uterus, almost instantly alleviating pain and cramping.  Supta Badhakonasana also gives space to all of the organs in the solar plexus region and therefore is beneficial for increasing healthy digestion when practiced on a regular basis.

Supta Badhakonasana is overall tri-doshic and can be used in a restorative practice by any individual.  It is a great posture to practice before bed to relieve the days stress and accumulated constriction, while preparing the body for sleep.  This posture can also be practiced at the end of a more rigorous Yoga session to calm and cool the energy before moving onto your daily activities. 

Besides all of the already mentioned benefits, this posture is also perfect for healing and strengthening the liver and spleen, cooling off any excessive heat in the body, relieving lower back issues, treating kidney and urinary disorders, and promoting a regular, healthy menstrual cycle.  Best of all, it is gentle for people of all ages and body types (elderly individuals can practice on a bed), and is safe (and highly recommended) for practicing on a daily basis. 

Supported Supta Badhakonasana:

SuptaBadhakonasana

  • Doshic Qualities: Vata ↓,Pitta ↓, Kapha ↓ (best for Vata and Pitta, increases Kapha in excess)
  • Best Season for Practice: Beneficial in all seasons!  
  • Elemental Component:  Cools Fire, promotes Water, grounds Air and Space, increases Earth
  • Main Areas of Healing in the Body: Restores the core region including the lower abdomen, entire GI tract, lower back and solar plexus. Also healing to the mind; reducing stress and promoting emotional balance.
  • Main Organs and Systems: Liver, spleen, kidneys, urinary system, reproductive system and digestive system

Health Benefits of Supta Badhakonasana:

  • Relives stress and constriction in the body
  • Promotes blood flow to the uterus, lower back and kidneys
  • Promotes a healthy, regular cycle in women when practiced consistently
  • Relieves cramping during menstruation
  • Beneficial in pregnancy for both mother and fetus
  • When used regularly during pregnancy, promotes an “easeful” labor
  • Heals and strengthens the liver and spleen
  • Heals and strengthens the kidneys and urinary system
  • Cools the energy in the body
  • Increases digestion and opens the channels of the GI tract
  • Relives indigestion
  • Alleviates lower back pain
  • Beneficial in sciatica
  • Grounds the energy, calms the mind
  • Promotes restoration of the body and mind
  • Treats many Vata and Pitta disorders
  • Useful in Kapha disorders when practiced with a more kinetic Yoga practice
Contraindications:
  • None, this is a very gentle and safe posture for almost all individuals
  • If you experience any pain or discomfort in the lower back, I would suggest to add more pillows or bolsters behind the back or avoid the posture altogether

badhakonasana

SuptaBadhakonasana3

SuptaBadhakonasana

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Necessities:
  • 2 bed pillows or 1-2 bolsters
  • Blanket to keep warm and comfortable
  • Eye pillow (especially if you are practicing before bed)

1.Begin in a seated position, making sure to have all of your needed props in arms distance from your seat. 

2. Come into a gentle Badhakonasana (see top photo above) by placing the feet together in front of the pelvic region.  The feet can be placed about one foot in front of the genitals.    

3. Place the pillows vertically behind the back, about a first distance from the sacrum (so it is not directly hitting the back).  Stack as many pillows as needed to feel comfortable in the final posture.  If you are working with a bolster, you may need to add a folded blank or two to add more height.  Remember, restorative postures are about restoration (hence the name) and release, not about pushing or straining in anyway!

4. Lay back onto the pillows, keeping the feet bound together in front of the body.  Adjust the pillows or your body as needed to feel comfortable.  Add another pillow if there is any discomfort in the lower back.

5. Once you find your “sweet spot”, place the eye pillow over the eyes (optional, but recommended for Vata issues and nighttime practices).  Relax the hands to the ground beside the body, palms facing up.  Alternatively the hands can be placed on the lower abdomen or stretched overhead.

6. Stay here for a minimum of three to five minutes, or as long as your body needs. 

7. Once you are ready to come out, you can straighten the legs, coming into a supported shavasana.  Stay here for several moments.  In time, roll to your side in the “fetal position” and slowly come up to seated.

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