When to Practice the Pose
Supta baddha konasana, or reclined bound angle pose, ranks high on their list for savasana. Mine, too. It’s also my top pick for a mid-day break. For five to ten minutes, I lie in repose with props tucked under my head, torso, legs and arms
Benefits of the Pose
What’s not to like? Gravity does the work loosening what the Parkinson’s squeezes tight. A restful, passive expansion across the chest opens my heart while flexing the vertebrae behind it. The curve in my lumbar spine relaxes on the bolster and the rubber-band muscles of my inner thighs lengthen without effort. These shifts help my posture, gait and sleep. Yum.
There’s also a surprise bonus: Facial muscles – ones I didn’t realize were taut – ease and soften. My whole jaw broadens making my teeth feel like even they settle and allow for more space.
Particularly in the depths of winter, these are welcome sensations. I can feel the sunshine, hear the birds, imagine the warm breezes as my mind and body restore. Yum, yum.
Not only does reclined bound angle pose “taste” good, it is good. A study by the Parkinson’s Disease Society of India, conducted at the Iyengar Institute, concluded that yoga practice provided positive, measurable benefits to the well-being of those living with Parkinson’s. Among the poses practiced regularly? Supta baddha konasana.
- cushion or folded blanket
- 6 blocks
- eye pillows
- blanket (optional, if one is chilled)
The eye pillows are for the palms of the hand to help release any dystonia. The extra blocks support the arms to relieve any strain in the shoulders (shoulder pain is a common secondary symptom of Parkinson’s and can be difficult areas to relax if affected by a stroke).
I disregard the strap used in traditional propping. While it may keep the soles of the feet together and the heels from sliding away from the hips, students with movement disorders experience restricted movement on a daily basis. It can be anything but soothing to forcefully inhibit movement even more.
Setting up the Props
Set the bolster lengthwise on the mat. Place a cushion or folded blanket at the head of the bolster. Set two blocks in their flattest position short-end-to-short-end on either side of the mat. The other two are at the foot of the mat awaiting positioning. Set an eye pillow on each set of blocks along the sides of the mat & bolster.
Easing into the Pose
Sit on the mat with the back of your hips abutting the short end of the bolster. Next, with the soles of the feet touching, bring the two blocks from the foot of the mat under each thigh just above the bent knee. The block can be positioned to whatever height needed to fully support the legs. There should be no strain, no active holding in the inner thigh muscles.
From here, lie back slowly, easing the spine onto the bolster. It is important that the bolster doesn’t move or slip up the mat as the body eases on to it. Have another person hold the bolster in place during this step. Or, try arranging the top end of the bolster against the wall before this step. I’m 5′ 7″ and can ease back without my head brushing the wall.
Allow your head to be supported by the cushion or blanket so that the neck is neutral, not overextending but also not with the chin tucked.
Take hold of an eye pillow in each hand. Rest the forearms and wrists on the sets of two blocks. Allow the palms to be face up and soften the grip on the eye pillows. Let them merely rest on the palms.
Easing Out of the Pose
To come out of this pose, release the eye pillows. Remove the blocks from under the thighs. Move one set of arm blocks aside and roll off the bolster to that side. Curl into a fetal position for several breaths before moving into an upright, seated position. And before rising, allow a few cycles of breath to notice the openings, to drink them in.