Reclining Bound Angle Pose, Supta Baddha Konasana, (SOOP-tah buh-ddh-ko-naa-suh-nuh)
supta (reclining) + baddha (bound) + kona (angle) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Reclining Cobbler Pose, Reclined Bound Angle Pose
This passive hip opening pose provides a gentle stretch for the hip and groin and can be the perfect introduction to a restorative practice
Reclining Bound Angle Pose Fundamentals
As the name indicates, Reclining Bound Angle Pose is an extension of Baddha Konasana that involves reclining onto your back. As such, there is a crossover between this pose and Bound Angle in terms of function. However, the reclining variant is more passive, thereby classed as a restorative asana.
In a yoga sequence, this pose is usually cued towards the end of the practice, allowing the physical body to recover and the mind to wind down. This pose is believed to help the practitioner recharge and reestablish their connection with their body.
Furthermore, the alignment of the body allows the energy to flow freely from the base (root chakra, or muladhara) to the crown (sahashara).
- Increases passive hip flexibility. At its core, Supta Baddha Konasana is a hip opener. It’s a great pose for stretching the inner thighs and lengthening the adductor muscles.
- Great for your pelvic floor. It is a common misconception that to keep your pelvic floor muscles healthy, you must mainly practice contraction (a.k.a. Kegel exercises). The truth is, as well as being able to squeeze those muscles, you have to know how to relax them. Reclining Bound Angle Pose allows you to do exactly that, which is integral for the proper function of your pelvic floor.
- Lower body recovery. If you do any activities that require strong legs, this is a great asana to help you recover. Whether you are a runner, a cyclist, or a dancer, Reclining Bound Angle Pose can help you release tension from your glutes, thighs, calves, and ankles.
- Induces relaxation. If you find it difficult to let go, this pose can help you “trick” your body into relaxation. What’s more, when the body is relaxed, the mind can follow suit! Practicing this pose at the end of a long day can help you release pent-up tension and prepare your mind for sleep.
1. Start in a supine position (lying on your back). Bend your knees and plant your feet on the mat, with the big toes and part of the inner soles touching.
2. Spend some time adjusting your spine. Make sure that there is plenty of contact between your back and the floor, as well as adding any necessary changes to your position to remove any discomfort in the lower back area.
3. When you’re ready, take a breath in and roll your feet to their outer edges. Shuffle the feet towards each other until the soles are touching. As you exhale, allow your knees to open up, reaching for the opposite edges of your yoga mat. It may take a few moments for your hips to settle in this position.
4. With your arms, you may choose to extend them alongside your body and open the palms to the sky, like you would do in Savasana. Alternatively, rest your hands on your lower rib cage, with elbows a little distance away from the body. Soften your shoulders and relax the back of your neck.
5. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath and the way it affects the physical sensations in your body, especially the hips. Depending on the type of practice you are conducting, you may stay in this asana between 5 breaths (standard Hatha practice) and 3 minutes (extended Yin hold).
6. To exit this pose, slide your hands under your outer thighs and help yourself lift the knees back to center.
- Once your hips are open, make an effort to relax your glutes. If you keep them tense, you will prevent your hips from opening to their full potential.
- You can place the heels as close or as far from your seat as you like. Whether the feet are close to the groin, or removed further down the mat, the pose still has an effect on your body. Depending on your physical composition, you may also find one variation more comfortable and relaxing than the other.
- Try to avoid arching your lower back. That’s why it is important to settle your spine before entering the Baddha Konasana formation. If you notice that there is a gap under your lower spine, remind yourself to gently tuck your pelvis.
- This is a passive, restorative yoga pose. If it feels like hard work, you are either missing the point, or not taking advantage of the props. With the right approach, this asana will feel relaxing and cathartic.
- The knees don’t have to touch the ground! Instead of aiming for a picture-perfect bound angle with hips open to 180 degrees, focus on finding your sweet spot and utilizing props for support. You should feel a stretch along your inner hips and groin, but there should be no discomfort.
A popular variation of reclining bound angle involves keeping your body slightly higher than your hips. There are plenty of reasons why you may choose to do that, from back and hip injuries to personal preference.
This is also a popular variation among expectant mothers, especially in the third trimester when lying on your back is ill-advised.
Using a bolster in this situation allows the practitioner to enjoy the benefits of the hip opening, while relaxing in a more comfortable reclining position.
The main difference between the “standard” pose and the semi-reclined variation is the way you enter the pose. Instead of starting in a supine position, you have to place a bolster behind you and lean backwards onto it from a seated position.
It is up to you whether you want to establish the Bound Angle before you lie back or once you’re in the reclining position.
When you lie back in Reclining Bound Angle Pose, you should be able to fully relax and dive into your inner thoughts. Understandably, that’s not possible if your hips are overstretched. In order to remove any discomfort from your hips and groin, the best thing to do is to support the knees in their suspended position.
This can be done in a variety of ways, depending on how far your knees are from the ground. A block under each knee can do wonders!
You can shift the position of the block closer to the middle to support the weight of the thighs, or turn the blocks onto the narrow edge to increase their height.
You can also stack multiple blocks under each knee if necessary. A rolled up blanket or towel would perform a similar function in the absence of a block.
Finally, you are welcome to combine different mediums together! For example, you can add blocks for support and cover them with a folded blanket to stop the edges of the blocks digging into your legs.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose With a Yoga Strap
While the distance between your heels and your groin can be adjusted, some people prefer to set their feet in place using a yoga strap.
This has a dual purpose; the strap acts as a way to stop your feet from sliding away from your hips, as well as pressing the soles of your feet together.
To perform this variation of Reclining Bound Angle, you have to once again enter the pose from the seated position.
Once your legs are in the bound angle formation, wrap the yoga strap in a loop connecting your lower back and your feet. The strap should sit in the folds of your hips, running along the bone of your inner ankle and wrapping around the outer edge of your feet.
It’s up to you how tight you make the strap, just remember that the act of reclining will pull the strap back.
- Inner hip and groin. If you have any injuries (e.g. strained muscle, torn ligament, hernia) in the inner hip or groin area, consult your physician before attempting this pose. If you are cleared for practice, it’s a good idea to talk to your yoga instructor before the class to ensure that they provide you with necessary modifications.
- Lower back and neck. Common mistakes when performing this pose include arching your lower back and compressing the cervical spine (neck). The former can result in back pain, while the unnecessary extension in the cervical spine can disrupt the blood flow or affect the nerves in your neck. If you catch yourself arching in your lower back or neck, correct your form by tucking your pelvis and tilting your chin slightly towards the chest.
- Sciatica. If you are struggling with sciatica, it may be wise to avoid this pose, especially during a flare-up.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
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