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Journey Pages, The Hugger Mugger Yoga Blog

Solstice Yoga: Restorative Supta Baddha Konasana

posted by Charlotte Bell on December 21, 2011 |

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Solstice Yoga

Last night was the longest night of the year. When I drove to my yoga class yesterday morning, there was not even a hint of morning light in the sky. The dark days beckon us to hibernate, and yet, the holidays are some of our most socially scheduled days of the year. I love practicing Restorative Yoga in the winter. It’s a time when conscious rest is the best thing we can do for ourselves. Supta Baddhakonasana (Supine Bound Angle Pose) is a great pose for this season of over-stimulation and over-consumption. As Solstice yoga goes, this is a winner.

solstice yoga

Supta Baddhakonasana with Pushkin Observing

Supta Baddhakonasana is one of only a small handful of yoga poses that are appropriate to practice after eating. By expanding the abdomen, it facilitates the flow of energy and food matter into the lower quadrants of the abdomen, where the small and large intestines live. In my experience, the spaciousness this pose creates helps stimulate movement to assist the let-go process.

Supta Baddhakonasana relieves the contracted or heavy sensation we often feel after over-eating, and can relieve menstrual cramps. Because this pose is very relaxing, it helps move us into the “rest and digest” (parasympathetic) side of our autonomic nervous system, which stimulates digestion and helps counter the sometimes stressful effects of the traditional holiday onslaught of busyness and relatives.

Using just three blankets or a bolster, blanket and block, you can make Supta Baddhakonasana quite comfortable. Try both options to see which feels better to you.

Option 1: Three blankets

To practice with just blankets, round up three firm blankets and a yoga mat. Quilts, wool, Mexican or cotton blankets are best. Fold one of your blankets into a bolster shape—long enough to support your back from the lumbar to the head and approximately eight to ten inches wide. Set this blanket on your mat lengthwise.

Fold your second blanket so that it is about two inches thick. Place it crosswise toward the end of your first blanket closest to the “head” of your mat.

Start with your third blanket folded so that it is about 36 to 40 inches wide. If you are using standard wool or Mexican yoga blankets, your blanket will be folded in quarters. Set it in front of you so that the wide side is closest to you (in computer vernacular, you’ll be looking at a “landscape” rather than “portrait” shape). Roll the blanket up so that you are making a long “snake,” 36 to 40 inches wide.

Sit in front of blanket #1 so that your rear is barely grazing the front end of it. Place the soles of your feet together in Baddha Konasana. Draw your heels in toward your groins so that they are four to 10 inches away, and let your knees fall out to the sides. Place the center of your “snake” on top of your feet and tuck its ends under your ankles and thighs so that it lifts and supports your legs. If the bend is too much for your knees, scoot your heels out a few inches, away from your groins. You can also try propping the knees a bit higher with thinly folded blankets, in addition to your snake.

Now lie back on blanket #1 and adjust blanket #2 so that it is under your head and neck, with its front end touching the tops of your shoulders. Let your arms rest at about a 45-degree angle to your body with your palms turned upward.

solstice yoga

Supta Baddhakonasana with Bolster, Block and Blanket

Option 2: Bolster, block and blanket

If you have a bolster and block (our Standard Bolster works best), you can use these in place of blankets #1 and 2. Place your block crosswise, either flat or on its side, near the “head” end of your mat. Place one end of your bolster on top of it so that the bolster sits at a slant with the head side of the bolster elevated. Sit in front of the end of the bolster that is on the floor with your buttocks barely touching the bolster.

Fold your blanket so that it is about 36 to 40 inches wide. If you are using standard wool or Mexican yoga blankets, your blanket will be folded in quarters. Set it in front of you so that the wide side is closest to you (in computer vernacular, you’ll be looking at a “landscape” rather than “portrait” shape). Roll the blanket up so that you are making a long “snake,” 36 to 40 inches wide.

Place the soles of your feet together in Baddhakonasana. Draw your heels in toward your pubic bones so that they are six to 10 inches away, and let your knees fall out to the sides. Place the center of your “snake” on top of your feet and tuck its ends under your ankles and thighs so that it lifts and supports your legs. If the bend is too much for your knees, scoot your heels out a few inches, away from your groins. You can also try propping the knees a bit higher with thinly folded blankets, in addition to your snake. Lie back on your bolster so that your whole torso is supported and your head is resting on the high end.

Let your body settle completely into your blankets or bolster. Now inhale deeply into your abdomen, allowing it to expand fully in all directions. Imagine that your breath is massaging your abdominal organs. Exhale completely, so that you are releasing all the breath each time. Continue to breathe deeply for a minute or two, and then let your body relax into to natural breathing. You can stay in Supta Baddhakonasa for five to 20 minutes. The longer you stay, the more your body will settle into it, and the more deeply and completely your body will rest.

You can practice Supta Baddhakonasana any time, not just in the winter. While it’s perfect Solstice yoga, it’s restorative for your body and mind no matter what your circumstances. Try practicing it every day for a week or a month. This subtle but powerful pose can bring grace to your holidays and your life.

Post By Charlotte Bell (207 Posts)

Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice, published by Rodmell Press. Her second book, Yoga for Meditators (Rodmell Press) was published in May 2012. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

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2 Responses to “Solstice Yoga: Restorative Supta Baddha Konasana”

  1. Nichole Says:

    Caution! While practicing a Restorative version of Supta Baddhakonasana, I have experienced total bliss. If you would like to experience a small piece of heaven, I recommend practicing this pose. Thanks Charlotte!

  2. Charlotte Says:

    Totally true, Nichole. There are so many ways in which Supta Baddhakonasana is healing for body and mind. Bliss is yet another benefit!

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