At this time of new beginnings and the start of Spring, I would like to share the wonderfully restorative asana of Supta Baddha Konasana – also appropriately known as the Goddess Pose! This accessible posture has many benefits, including ones of special significance for Imbolc and the stirrings of new life,for example the opening of the pelvis and action on the reproductive organs.
As we clear out the old and welcome in the new, this deeply relaxing pose, particularly in the supported version described here, opens up the body and heart centre, allowing us to create physical space within for renewal, for embracing fresh ideas and for awakening to our true potential.
– Opens the chest and rib cage;
– Lengthens the spine;
– Opens the pelvic area and hips;
– Stretches abdominal muscles and tones organs such as ovaries, prostate;
– Stretches the inner thighs, knees and groin;
– Helps to relieve stress, anxiety and fatigue;
– Eases the symptoms of menopause and menstruation.
Groin or knee injury: Support under each knee with blocks or folded blankets.
Lower back: Ensure the the spine lengthened as you lay down and the buttock flesh smoothed down from the sacral area towards the feet, creating length in the lower back. Stop if there is pain despite these actions.
Pregnancy: As this practice helps to open the pelvic and abdominal areas, it is a perfect pose during pregnancy in preparation for delivery and for relaxation. The posture can be supported with a wide variety of props depending on the woman and the trimester. As always, please be guided by your doctor or midwife on your suitability to practice and by a qualified teacher on the supports you can use.
Prepare your support (the classical pose is practised laying flat): The support can consist of a line of blocks lengthways – at least enough to support your head when you are down. A firm folded blanket can be used instead of blocks.
Sit close to the front of the support: Bring the soles of the feet together and towards your groins. Support under the knees at this point if needed – have blocks or blankets to either side if you think you may need them as you stay in the pose (the action on the inner thighs can intensify as you stay longer).
Using your hands then forearms to help you, inhale, lift the trunk and open the chest, exhale as you lower the body down onto the support (or floor), lengthening the spine as you go. Once you are down, use the hands to draw the flesh of the buttocks from the sacral area towards your feet. This will release the lower back.
Support your head and neck if needed. The tip of the nose should be towards the ceiling.
Smooth down your thighs with your hands, encouraging the legs to release down from the hips and groins.
Roll the shoulders back and down, moving the shoulder blades towards your feet. Rotate the whole arm from the shoulder sockets so the palms face up, and place the arms down, just away from the body.
Close the eyes, relax the face and jaw, and under the closed eyelids turn the internal gaze towards the feet – this will help to quieten the mind. Keep the neck soft and long.
Stay in the posture: Up to a minute to start with. If more experienced stay longer – five to 10 minutes.
Coming out of the pose: Using the hands, help the legs back to centre. Keep the knees bent and soles of the feet on the ground. Carefully roll off the support to your right and stay a few moments until ready to come up. If you are using a higher support you may find it easier to use the arms to push yourself back up to sitting, help the legs back together and stretch them out.
Work and Care in the Practice:
– If the action is too strong on the inner thighs, either from the start or after a while, support under the knees with a block or blanket;
– To avoid strain on the lower back be sure to draw the flesh of the back hips and buttocks towards the feet. If discomfort is felt in the lower back despite the above action, try laying on a slightly higher support. Don’t work through pain.
– If experienced in the pose you may want to intensify the stretch of the legs by placing gentle weight at the top of each inner thigh. Support under the thigh also if needed.
– You can work the arms and shoulders by extending the arms up then behind the head and laying them on the floor, parallel to each other, palms facing up, shoulder blades always moving towards the feet.
* Louise is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. She has been practising in this method for over 26 years and teaching for more than 15 years. She offerspersonalised 1:1 yoga tuition for beginners to the more experienced and for thosewith specific needs.
She is studying in India until 20th February, but look out for super-discounted Spring tuition sessions at Goddess House on her return.