Why Supta Baddha Konasana is My Favorite Pose
We all have our favorite yoga poses, and Supta Baddha Konasana is mine. For one thing, it’s done lying done with plenty of supports: a bolster to lie back on, a folded blanket into a pillow for the head, and what I call wing walls, composed of folded blankets, for the knees. But it’s more than the props and the reclining involved that make me want to raise both fists to the sky in exaltation each time a yoga teacher says those magic syllables. I love this pose because of what it asks of me.
There’s nothing like lying down, lifting the heart as a kind of offering to the moment, opening the legs and arms, and facing the movable and wild space of a particular moment to remind me of what I found long ago about life: that it’s all about breaking your heart wide open. Again and again. We discover, we recover, we lose deeply, we find widely, we awaken into more than we could have imagined and fall back into the cycles of suffering, loss and lack of control that mosey through all our lives. Each moment something happens, or something that should’ve happened doesn’t, we face a choice of whether to open our heart a little wider or shut ourselves down.
Opening to Faith
I think of when I discovered I was pregnant with my third child. To say this was unplanned would be an understatement, and my husband’s response, upon seeing the telltale pregnancy test stick with the bright plus sign, was to yell out a certain four-letter word. Life was busting our hearts open in a way we couldn’t yet anticipate, and the pregnancy that followed—a time of constant migraines for me and constant worry for my husband—led us to many moments when we did close off our hearts to ourselves and each other like super-glued-shut clam shells. A preschooler and toddler already, money more than tight, the house often engulfed in the chaos of laundry and dishes, and our schedules full to the point of brittleness at times, we couldn’t yet understand how we could open our lives further. Yet constant glimpses of faith told me we would find ways we couldn’t yet imagine.
My faith was truer than our worries. Our third child, a son, brought to our lives blessings I couldn’t have imagined: he was born with an innate sense of peace and a presence that always relaxes and amuses us. He’s now 17, getting ready to graduate high school, and he plans to continue living at home for a few more years while he attends a community college. Having to postpone empty-nest syndrome is the reason we had this child, but we can’t imagine our lives being complete without him now that our hearts have opened, even while we were thrashing around in our fear and doubt, in ways that make our days more vivid.
Whenever I lie down in Supta Baddha Konasana I remind myself that opening the heart isn’t some kind of endurance marathon, but more a way of lifting up the core of who we are and letting what’s ready to come land in us. It’s a practice of breathing in and out the big sky, offering what we have, and trusting that we will expand to contain and work with whatever we’re given.