Bound angle pose, also commonly known as butterfly pose, is a seated hip opening pose. It’s also been known to be called cobblers’ pose because of the unique shape it has and its similarity to the way ancient Indian cobblers would sit. This pose has been used in many forms, and not just in yoga, because of its many benefits. It’s been used in dance classes like ballet and even gymnastics to help attain deeper hip and hamstring flexibility.
The basics of bound angle pose
The Sanskrit word for butterfly pose is “Baddha Konasana”. The Baddha means bound, the Kon means angle, and the Asana means pose. The main target of this pose is to increase flexibility in the hip and hamstring areas. This is something that almost everyone struggles with because of how little we need flexibility in those areas to get around.
This pose is relatively easy and considered a restorative pose because of how gentle it is. It’s a beginner pose because it can be done by anyone no matter their flexibility. It can also be made into an advanced pose by deepening the pose and therefore the stretch that is attained from the pose.
Benefits of practicing bound angle pose
By doing bound angle pose, you would be stretching the hips, inner thighs, groin, and knees. This allows for more blood circulation in the pelvic area and the rest of the body. It also helps to relieve pain in the pelvic area for those who usually have discomfort there, or for those who menstruate. It’s also been known to be very helpful for pregnant women.
It’s been recorded that the pose is also good for people with asthma, high blood pressure, and sciatica. It’s one of the most common poses used to decrease overall stress and facilitates in calming the overall nervous system. Most importantly, it helps decrease tightness in the hips, which is useful nowadays because of the amount of sitting people do.
How to do bound angle pose
Step by step instructions of how to do bound angle pose
- Coming from a regular cross seated position. Begin by first lengthening the spine and sitting upright.
- From there, bring the souls of the feet together and allow the knees to fall apart. Bring feet closer to the body if you are more flexible in the hips and further away if your hips are tighter.
- Grab onto the feet, ankles, or shins with the hands, making sure to only do what is comfortable in your body at the time.
- Can remain here and lengthen the spine while keeping a hold of somewhere on the leg or you can choose to fold forward over the legs. When folding, ensure to fold from the hips and keep a flat back until halfway and then you can round and release.
- The arms can then be released to the floor with palms facing up or they can remain on your leg position as before. Let the head hang heavy and there should be no tension in the neck area.
Common mistakes when doing bound angle pose
A big mistake that people make when going into butterfly pose is that they want their head to touch their feet and so they force themselves forwards. This often causes unnecessary pain. Fold from the hips and aim the chest towards the feet instead of trying to get your head onto your toes. The person should always go as far as their own body can take them and listen to their body.
Another similar mistake is that people try and get their knees on the ground, which only extremely flexible people can do. The knees should open as far as they naturally would go otherwise there will be some pain felt in that area. Another issue with this pose is people tend to sit on one sit bone more than the other. The pelvis should be neutral, and both sitting bones should have even weight on them.
Tips for beginners doing bound angle pose
Allow the hips to open naturally, that way no pain will be felt. Don’t press on the knees to force yourself to go deeper. Over time you will naturally be able to go deeper into the pose. Remember to breathe through the pose and fold over slowly. Never push yourself into any pose. The more relaxed the person is in this pose, the longer they can hold it, and the deeper they can eventually go in butterfly.
If someone is experiencing any kind of hip, knee, or groin pain or injury then they should avoid this pose. The pose should only be practiced once a doctor or physician has approved it because it could potentially make the injury and pain worse. Always listen to your own body and only go as far as is comfortable. When attempting any pose, don’t push into it but trust your body to get there naturally. The body knows what to do and how far it can go.
Variations of bound angle pose
A few ways to make the pose easier or less intensive of a stretch is to use props. Something like blocks, pillows, and even blankets can be put underneath the knees so that the knees don’t go further than necessary. You can also place a block, pillow, or blanket underneath the sits bones, which would facilitate folding forward and maintaining a straight spine when seated upright.
If you wanted a deeper variation of the pose, you could hold onto the ankles and maintain this hold as you fold trying to reach chest to feet. With the elbows, push a tiny bit, not too much, onto the shins to deepen the stretch. If this is still an easy stretch, you could try moving your feet closer towards your groin area. This will deepen the stretch significantly. It should never feel painful, but some slight sensation should be felt, that way you know you’re properly stretching the hips and groin area.