Yoga: A Special Gift for Women
Like many fellow practitioners, yoga has gifted and blessed my life! After discovering yoga in my late twenties, it healed injuries, held my hand during traumatic life events and loses, continually filled my reservoir of hope and possibilities, enhanced my relationships, and even given me a career.
At nineteen, I had great pain and burning sensations in my right side. At twenty-three, perplexed medical doctors performed exploratory surgery and, aside from discovering an acute appendicitis, found no answers. The pain continued, even to this day it is an occasional irritant. The saving grace has been an asana of the ages, known as Baddhakonasana, Bound Angle or Cobbler Pose. Like all yoga poses, this asana is not just merely exercise. In its distinct form and shape, it aligns the skin and the muscles of the skeletal system. It penetrates deeply into the body, impacting every cell and tissue. Adding the breath, the best medicine, this pose has a very specific influence of the pyscho-neurohormonal system, addressing many aspects of the pelvic region. One of the original meditation postures of the ancients, Baddhakonasana brings a spiritual awakening to the body, a mothering quality, inviting a complete release into the mysteries of life while simultaneously offering a connection to all that is in the universe.
For women, yoga offers a way to keep the physical body operating at its optimum while showing us how to love our bodies. In a culture that has promoted the concept that we need to be and look a certain way, yoga teaches us to look beyond the illusion, to love ourselves in our uniqueness , as we are now. A yoga practice invites women into their greatness. It builds self-esteem through discovery and aids in acknowledging our personal power, encouraging us to use our creative energies in all areas of our life, expressing ourselves fully (being a true goddess).
We are Shakti, the dynamic creative principle of existence. We are the feminine, the bride of Shiva. Shiva the masculine, " The processor of power" is, without Shakti, incapable of creating any effect. Yoga gives us the tools to preserve our creative essence that we might empower shiva and Shakti to combine these energies and move through the universe as one. Baddhakonasana, the Cobbler Pose, teaches us about this oneness and, in the words of Patanjali, sage and author of the Yoga Sutras, we are told "The entire universe is held within the golden womb."
Baddhakonasana...A Blessing for All Women
How can one of the oldest known asanas, the pose of the ancient cobbler, who sat on his blanket with the bottoms of his feet together all day long, be such a blessing to women?
The Sanskrit sound, "baddha" means caught or restrained and "kona" means angle. Engaged in "Bound Angle" pose, one becomes a geometric art form, spine spiraling and lengthening as legs drops to the sides, transforming like a blossom opening or the coming forth of the butterfly from its cocoon. Bound Angle then draws our awareness into the deep, watery belly, the primordial place where we envision earth and birth, the warm home of the womb.
The pose blesses the child at play, creating grounding and a sense of security. The youthful woman may utilize this pose for regulating menstrual flow or any other monthly discomforts such as PMS. Baddhakonasana is a treasure for the pregnant woman, allowing easy breathing promoting a focusing place for listening, reflecting, and feeling support. THis pose is restful and harmonizes, quieting the mind and relaxing the lower abdomen. Feminine energy comes int balance as Bound Angle assists in creating a receptive home in the pelvis and the belly. Allowing the uterus and ovaries to be free and open, it releases pelvic congestion. The baby is at ease to float relax.
The passage of menopause is eased and supported by Baddhakonasana. As ovaries cease to function, the thyroid and adrenals become hyperactive with the imbalance of hormones. Moving through dark or moody times, when needing to calm, or rejuvenate from fatigue, this beautiful pose, whether it is active or a passive restorative variation, gently calms the nervous system bringing balance to the whole body-mind. Like the passages of puberty and pregnancy, menopause becomes very introspective and meditative quality of this pose gives a woman the opportunity to honor her body and to connect more consciously to the life force at a deeper level.
Boasting many great powers, this pose is said to prevent hernias, help sciatica, and id in urinary disorders. Baddhakonasana isa powerful heart opener,increasing circulation, and helps those with blocked arteries. Highly effective at reducing stress, the pose delivers fresh blood to the pelvic region, and allows refreshment of the intuitive powers. It beings equipoise ti the endocrine system, and brings a sense of well-being. Although one may feel vulnerable in this open position, it is a reminder that in vulnerability, we find our strength, that in this deep opening of the body, releasing and "bind" on the mind, the body is cradled and the feminine spirit is nurtured. We become Shakti rekindled, the personification of the feminine.
(Pictured is a passive restortative variation)
Preparing For and Enjoying the Pose:
You will need a bolster, four blankets rolled long ways (or two rolls and two blocks), two additional blanket and a belt (optional). Sit in from front of the bolster. Place two rolled blankets in position to be placed under each arm. Place a small pillow or half folded blanket on the end of the bolster as a head lift. Place either two more rolled blankets or two lightweight blocks to support each outer thigh. Turn and sit, knees bent, with your sacrum just in from of the short bolster. Place the belt around the top of your hips, between the legs, and over the outside of the feet. Adjust the belt to secure the feet, yet allowing for comfort when reclining. Using your arms, lower the trunk to the floor, resting on the props with the bosy at a 45 degree angle. Life the tailbone and lengthen the spine down before taking the knees out to the sides and letting the rest completely on the blocks or blanket rolls. Release the arms to the rolled blankets and let the head and neck relax onto the upper bolster and head support.
If you are uncomfortable in any way, readjust and add more support (the additonal blanket). Ah! Breate slowly and evenly. Imagine the body to open on long, smooth inhalations. Allow the body to release to a deeper level of letting go on each successive exhalation. Relax and melt into the props. Picture yourself, whole, well, and safe. Remain in the pose from five to twenty minutes or as long as you feel comfortable.
When the pose feels complete, resume normal breathing, roll to one side and come to sitting. Strech the legs long in front of you. Slowly resume your activites and know
you have been blessed.
Originally published in Healing Garden Journal