Bound Angle Pose is a well-known seated yoga posture that opens the hips and groins. It is also sometimes called “Cobbler's Pose,” after the way cobblers in India sit on the ground to work on footwear. The Sanskrit name for this pose — “Baddha Konasana (BAH-duh cone-AHS-uh-nuh)” — comes from three words:
- “Baddha” — meaning “bound”
- “Kona” — meaning “angle”
- “Asana” — meaning “pose”
Many people today have very tight hips and inner thighs due to a lifetime of sitting in chairs, cars, and on couches. Baddha Konasana is a pose that many children easily accomplish because their hips are so open and flexible. But, many adults have lost that easy flexibility in their hips and feel tight and restricted when attempting this pose. Regularly practicing hip-openers, such as Baddha Konasana, will counteract this stiffness, reduce pain, and bring more ease and grace to your movements.
Benefits of Bound Angle Pose
This pose stretches the hips, groins, knees, and inner thighs. It improves circulation and blood flow throughout the entire body, but especially in the pelvis, which can soothe menstrual discomfort and symptoms of menopause. This increased pelvic blood flow also helps to ease sexual tension and frustration. Baddha Konasana is particularly beneficial for women who are pregnant, as it can aid in childbirth.
Practicing this pose stimulates the heart, abdominal organs, kidneys, ovaries, and the prostate gland. It is also known to be therapeutic for sciatica, flat feet, high blood pressure, infertility, and asthma. Ancient texts claim that this pose will destroy disease and fatigue. Sitting upright with your spine aligned also calms the mind to reduce stress, anxiety, and mild depression.
In the beginning, you have to make room for yoga in your daily life, and give it the place it deserves. But after some time, yoga itself will pull you up by the hair and make you do it.
Avoid practicing this pose if you have a groin or knee injury. If your hips are very tight, it might be difficult to open your thighs and/or to press your feet together. Never force the pose. Instead, practice a modified version until your flexibility increases (see Modifications & Variations, below). Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin seated in Staff Pose (Dandasana) with your spine straight and your legs extended in front of you on the mat. Rest your arms at your sides with your palms on the mat.
- Bend your knees and draw your heels in toward your pelvis. Press the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop open to both sides. It's important to allow your knees to drop open only as far as they will go — never press on your knees in this pose!
- Clasp your big toes with your first two fingers. Press the outer edges of your feet firmly together, and also press them firmly into the floor.
- Sit up straight. Extend through the length of your entire spine through the crown of your head.
- Gaze softly straight ahead, or at the tip of your nose.
- Hold the pose for up to five minutes. To release the pose, first release the clasp from your toes. Then, gently lift your knees and extend your legs once again along the floor in Staff Pose (Dandasana).
Modifications & Variations
Bound Angle Pose can provide a deep stretch to your hips and groin, while it also soothes and calms your mind. If you'd like to deepen or lighten the pose, try these simple changes to find a variation that works best for you:
- If your hips are tight, your knees will be raised high in the air. You will gain few benefits practicing the pose this way. Do not sit flat on the floor! Instead, sit on a blanket, a pile of firm blankets, a bolster or block, or a meditation pillow. Sitting with your hips above the level of your knees greatly reduces the stress and strain on your hips, knees, and back. Sitting propped up will also help to open your groins and will bring your spine into proper alignment.
- Sit as high off the floor as you need to in order to sit up straight and not round your spine. You may need to sit as high as a foot off the floor, and that is perfectly fine!
- If your hips are very tight, you can also place a block under each knee or thigh for extra support.
- If you are not currently able to clasp your toes, hold onto your ankles or shins, instead.
- If you are still gaining the back strength needed to sit up straight, practice this pose with your back against a wall.
- To help with the releasing of your thigh bones, drape a sandbag across the top of each thigh.
- To deepen the pose, you can come into a forward bend variation. Keeping the front of your torso long, fold forward at the hip joints and draw your torso between your knees. Bend your elbows and rest them against your inner thighs. If you are able to bend all the way forward, you can rest your head on the floor.
Practicing Bound Angle Pose can be a great way to counteract poor posture and tight hips after a long day of sitting or traveling. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Never press on your knees in this pose! Doing so can cause injury to your groin and knees. Instead, let the heads of your thigh bones (the part of the bone that connects in the hip socket) release toward the floor.
- Avoid jerking, pulling, pushing, or forcing any movement in this pose. Let your movements be slow and smooth.
- Do not “flutter” your knees like a butterfly.
- Keep your pelvis in a neutral position, balancing equally on both sit bones. To find this neutral position, rock forward and back and shift your hips side to side when you are in the pose. When you are neutral, your pubic bone and tailbone should both be the same distance from the floor, and both sit bones should have an even distribution of weight.
- If you are folding forward, imagine that you are drawing your chest toward your toes, instead of your forehead to your heels. The aim of the forward fold is to keep the front of the torso and the spine long — not rounded.
Open Your Hips
Baddha Konasana is a simple pose that you can practice throughout your day. It will help to counteract the stiffness in your hips after a long day of sitting at a desk or driving. Remember to breathe calmly and not to force anything. The more you can relax in the pose, the more your hips will open and gain flexibility. Regularly integrate this pose into your practice, and you may notice more fluidity and ease in all areas of your life!