Yoga Q&A: Why I could not ground my legs in Baddha Konasana Bound Angle Yoga Pose

Being new in yoga practice, you may encounter certain limitation in a pose, feeling an overly intense stretch or a muscle trembling with fatigue; and your first thought is to avoid this discomfort. Yoga is a process of self-transformation, and it offers you opportunities to learn from intense sensations as you carefully explore your limits. In this way you will develop your own personal and sustainable practice. Let’s explore why it is difficult to practice Baddha Konasana, Bound Angle Yoga Pose.

What is Baddha Konasana

Baddha Konasana, is also called Bhadrasana. It can be translated to English as Bound Angle Pose, Butterfly Pose, Throne Pose, or Cobbler’s Pose. It is a basic seated yoga pose that open the hips and the muscles of the groin. Baddha Konasana is suitable as a meditation seat. If you practice Baddha Konasana slow and relax movement, you will experience a sense of inner peace. This creates a peaceful place to enter into meditations.

Q&A: Why I couldn’t ground my legs in Baddha Konasana?

If you have been practicing Baddha Konasana yoga pose for years and your legs are still way up high from the floor, it is most likely due to your joint structure rather than flexibility issue. Some of our hip joints are oriented such that external rotation is really easy. Others are form in favour for inner rotation. Occasionally, someone’s hip joints accommodate both actions but most of the time, if we rotate easily one direction, we probably won’t rotate as easily the other way. Remember everyone has natural limits. This doesn’t mean you should give up on the pose. Even if your knees don’t ever open all the way to the floor, Baddha Konasana will still help you to stretch your inner thighs and build strength in your back.

Let’s Get onto the floor

If you keep sitting on the chair it will tightens the hips and hamstrings and contributes to a slumping posture. Compare to sitting on the floor will open the hip and thigh muscles, strengthens core and reduces compression in the lower back. Let’s get onto the Floor! If your legs are high in the air while you feel the stretch on your inner thigh muscles, it is a beneficial Baddha Konasana . Listening to your own body is truly define as a good yoga practice.

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Common Misunderstanding of Banddha Konasana

If your knees are away from the floor in Baddha Konasana, will you welcome someone to push, to press or to stand on your thighs to drive them to the floor? Please don’t allow this to happen to you! A tendon at the hip or knee maybe snapped trying to force the legs down to the floor, an injury to the sacroiliac joint (SI joint) where the pelvis may misaligned or other leg injury. If there is an injury to the hip, normally results in lower back, hip, groin, buttock and sciatic pain. 

Basic Understanding of Anatomy of the Hip

The muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia of the hip are abundant and complex in their synchronicity. This is sure enough as you have more than 40 muscles coming together to function properly for hip movement. Isn’t it amazing? 

Your hip joint is the meeting point of two heavy bones, the pelvis and the femur. It supports your entire upper body weight. As it is a ball and socket joint, it allows you the full range of motion forward, backward, sideways, and rotational. The hip is a complex joint and if you work them, stretch them and keep them mobile in a proper range it will stay healthy – limber and hydrated.

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Muscles of the Hip Complex

  • Gluteal Muscles — muscles of the buttocks. We have three of them on each side (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus).
  • Adductor Muscles — muscles of the inner thigh. We have five of them on each side (gracilis, obturator externes, adductor braves, adductor longus and adductor magnus).
  • Iliopsoas Muscle — starts at the low back and connects to upper femur. One on each side (iliacus and psoas major).
  • Hamstring Muscles — muscles of the back of the upper leg. We have three of them on each side (semitendinosus, semimembranoseus, biceps femoris long and short head).
  • Quadraceps Muscles — muscles of the front of the upper leg. We have four of them on each side (vastus laterals, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris).
  • Lateral Rotator Muscles — muscles lying deep in the hip. We have six of them on each side (piriformis, gemelius superior, obturator internus, gemelius inferior, quadratus femoris and obturator externus).

Movements of the Hip

  • Adduction — Bringing the thighs closer together. Muscles of the gluteals, lateral rotators and adductors provide this motion. When you have an injury to the inner thigh, it can often be difficult to pinpoint which muscles (or tendon or ligament) may be the problem because there are so many working together. Poses in which you will feel the adductors working: standing poses like Tadasana. Poses in which you will feel the adductors stretching: Bandha Konasana, Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose). 
  • Abduction — Separation of the thighs or movement away from the midline. Muscles of the gluteals and lateral rotators create this motion. Overworked butt muscles will make it hard to abduct and complete poses that require wide legs, like  Virabhdrasana II (Warrior II) or Upavistha Konasana (Wide Legged Forward Fold Pose).
  • Flexion — Bending forward at the hips. A muscle called tensor fasciae latae, the ilopsoas, and some adductors create a forward folding motion. Additionally, the hamstrings need to lengthen (not contract) in order to let the fold happen. Flexion of hip occurs every time we are seated.
  • Extension — Straightening the hips. Muscles involved are the gluteus maximus, and all of the hamstrings. Any time we stand upright we are extending the hip joints, and also when we lay down in Savasana (Corpse Pose), the hips are extended.
  • Rotation — Both lateral rotation (outer or external spiral of the leg from the hip joint) and medial rotation (inner spiral of the leg from the hip joint). This lateral motion is sometimes called “peeling open the hip”, in poses like Vrksasana (Tree Pose), or Baddha Konasana. Muscles involved in lateral rotation are the deep lateral rotators and adductor muscles releasing, while muscles involved in medial rotation are the glutes.

Watch this video for better understanding of your hip movements.

Now that you have an understanding of your hip anatomy, exploring Baddha Konasana should not be in pain. It is important to lengthen the thigh (adductor) muscles outward from your pelvis and to contract of the gluteal and lateral rotators. This should help you move toward an amount of stretches and muscular effort that’s sustainable for you. If something hurts, ease back a bit. 

How To Do Baddha Konasana Step By Step

  • Start in Dandasana (Staff Pose).
  • On an exhalation, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together to touch. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you can without feeling pressure or pain in your knees. Push the outer edges of your feet firmly into the floor and wrap your hands around your feet or ankles.
  • With the pelvis in a neutral position, rotate the inner thighs towards the ceiling, and draw the knees down towards the floor. Never force your knees down to the ground. Gravity is all the force that you need. 
  • Engage the Tensor Fascia Lata and Gluteus Medius to abduct the hips and stretch the adductors. 
  • Engage the hamstrings to flex the knees by squeezing the lower legs into the thighs
  • On the next exhalation, start to recline your torso forward, ensuring that your spine remains long and neutral by bending from the hip joints as opposed to the waistline.
  • Hold pose from 1-3 minutes.
  • To exit the pose: draw your knees towards one another, extend your legs and return to Dandasana
  • During each practice: Make sure to maintain a focus on your breathing. Go slowly and don’t push your body beyond its limit. Be sure that you don’t force the position and you enter into it and out of it smoothly. Don’t move your knees up and down to try to deepen the stretch. 

Adjust Yourself

  • Try these tips to get the most out of Baddha Konasana.
  • Rounded Back: Place one or more folded blankets under your hips, to keep the pelvis and spine upright.
  • Tender Knees: Try moving your feet further away from the groin if you feel pressure in your knees.
  • Tight Back: If you have a hard time staying upright, sit with your back against a wall for support.
  • Extra Challenge: If you’re very flexible, fold forward with a long spine and stretch your outer thighs.

Variation of Baddha Konasana 

Variation of this asana, known as Supta Baddha Konasana, (Reclining Butterfly Pose) the body leans back into a reclining position.

Benefit of Baddha Konasana

Baddha Konasana is specially recommended for those suffering from urinary disorders. The pelvis, the abdomen and the back are stimulated by a plentiful blood supply. It relieves sciatic pain and prevents hernia. Regular practise of this asana may be beneficial for the lumbar region, flat feet, high blood pressure, infertility and asthma.

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