Thursday, June 9, 2011

Focus Pose: Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Standing Forward Fold)

Another focus pose! This particular asana people love, or they hate. You are putting pressure on both knees, the hips, the shoulders are opening, while (maybe) adding a forward fold. Lots going on and depending on your anatomy, it either feels really good, or it’s agony in the making – in which case modifications are necessary! Please, listen to your body, it’s trying to tell you something.

While looking for some further details on this pose - which comes after Hand To Big Toe (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana) and before Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)in the Ashtanga sequence - I came across this article from Yoga Journal as written by Beryl Bender Birch: Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

In 2005 I went to a workshop conducted by David Williams – he skipped this one completely with the reasoning that most people dislike the whole balance/twisting/bending aspect so why do it standing at all when you are just going to repeat it in 10 minutes on the floor in seated variation? Interesting point.

Yet, it’s a good pose to know.  If you are a cyclist, an endurance athlete, runner or triathlete, it's a great way to stretch the hip.  I love doing this stretch after Spin class or a long ride. 

Half Bound Lotus Standing Forward Fold

(From the Ashtanga sequence)

You’ve just finished Side B of Hand to Big Toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana) in your variation and returned to samasthti at the front of your mat.

Press your LEFT foot toward the earth.

INHALE, bring your RIGHT foot toward your left hip flexor:

      NOTE: I cue “toward” your left hip flexor. Please listen to your knees and hips. If such an extreme flexion is not appropriate for you, take Tree Pose (Vrksasana), or a Standing Pigeon Variation.
Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Level 1: Standing Pigeon or Tree Pose

Level 2: Tuck heel in toward hip flexor, grasp foot with left hand underneath, wrap right arm around behind. Maybe you’ll grab your elbow, maybe forearm, maybe wrist.

Level 3: With heel tucked in, right hand is grabbing right toes.

Level 4: IF RIGHT hand is grabbing RIGHT toes, begin to experiment with forward fold on an EXHALE. IF forward folding, over time, start to walk left hand back toward left foot.

Hold for 5 breaths.

Two ways to exit:

A) INHALE - look up EXHALE – pause INHALE – bending supporting knee slightly, come to standing

B) INHALE all the way to standing.

Both places, EXHALE to samasthti.

Repeat LEFT side.

 This is another pose where there is some deviation in what to do with the arms. One variation has the practitioner keeping the opposite hand at the hip. The other variation has the practitioner raising the arm over head and keeping it extended as they forward fold. Which variation you do will depend on when your instructor learned the pose, and who they learned it from. Either arm position is correct.

Bent knee – try and keep the bent knee pointing somewhat down toward the Earth and not jutting out toward the side. Again, how you are built will dictate where in space your knee is.

Some contraindications:

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! IF you have had knee surgery, knee issues, hip surgery or hip issues modify modify modify!

If forward folding, try not to hyper extend the supporting knee.  Be careful exiting the pose – bend the supporting knee. Engage your core.

Do the same thing on BOTH sides.  If you keep working toward your strong side, your weak/injured side will not have a chance to catch up, and you will create an imbalance in your body.  Modify the same on both sides to achieve equilibrium, then move forward from there.

Alternatively, do tree pose (Vrksasana) standing, and work on the nuances of the pose when you come to it in the seated sequence. When you feel comfortable with your balance, then start to build from there.

And because a video can convey so much more:


Pictures taken from the web by Googling ardha baddha padmottansana.  Video is from YouTube.


Eco Yogini said...

weirdly, as unbendy as i am, i do adore this pose. i'm not sure why... but it feels neat. :)


Sara said...

I like this pose too. I like the hip stretch and the balance. Also, I like your modification for standing pigeon. I think I'll work this pose into a class soon. Thanks!