2016-06-30

Passive, supported poses like Supta Baddha Konasana are what are known, in yoga jargon, as "restorative" poses. They allow the body to relax and receive the healing effects of yoga--including quieting the mind and increasing circulation to the organs--without working the muscles.

They are also an excellent way to quiet down and listen to our inner organs. Undistracted by the need to hold ourselves forcibly in a pose, we can put our full awareness into sensing exactly what we are feeling deep inside.

Supta Baddha Konasana is especially useful for pregnant women--it gently opens the hips in preparation for childbirth, releases tension in the spine, deepens the breath, and encourages blood flow to the uterus. But anyone can benefit from its healing effects.

To practice this posture, you will need some way of propping yourself up, such as yoga bolsters or an assortment of firm blankets. Fold several blankets so they are about as wide as--and slightly longer than--your torso (folding them in half, then in thirds, is often appropriate). Stack the blankets (and yoga bolster, if you have one) on top of each other lengthwise. Place another folded blanket crosswise on top of the log to support your head. If you wish, you can roll two more blankets into cylinders to support your thighs.

Sit with your back touching one end of the stack of blankets. It should reach about as high as the bottom of your back ribs. The edges of the blankets can be staggered slightly (creating a "stair-step" effect) so you will have a gentle slope to lie back on. Draw the soles of your feet together and let the knees drop out to the side. You can slide the rolled blankets at an angle under your thighs to offer additional support [Figure 1]

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Now lie back onto the support of the blankets [Figure 2]

. Release your hands to your sides with the palms facing up. Your breastbone should be elevated higher than your bottom ribs, and your forehead slightly higher than your chin, so you are lying in a gentle arc. (Especially if you are pregnant, you should not be lying flat on your back--you should feel more like you are reclining on a chaise longue.) Make whatever adjustments you need to in your pose. Then relax completely.

Let your face soften, your jaw release, and your eyes close. Let the layers of tension unravel. Draw your attention inward. Focus especially on the feelings in your heart and belly--both physical and emotional. With gentle, spacious attention, allow these feelings to shift and grow as big as they want to.

Stay in the pose for 10 to 20 minutes. When you are ready, draw your knees together and roll gently to one side. Lie there for several breaths before pushing yourself up to a seated position.

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