I absolutely adore Bound Angle Pose! I have very tight hips and hamstrings (which is something that brought me to yoga in the first place!) and I try to practice this pose everyday to help loosen these areas.
Bound Angle Pose belongs to both Yin and Yang styles of yoga, however how the pose is performed in each discipline differs slightly (and is called ‘Butterfly’ in Yin Yoga), as I will explain later.
Hips, the storehouses of trauma and stress
Many of us hold a lot of tension in our hip areas, through extended periods of sitting or standing. Our hips are also said to be the place where we store emotional trauma and stress.
How is this so? When we feel that we are in danger, or under stress, the body responds to the situation with a fight or flight response. In order for us the run away from the danger, our hip flexors and leg muscles need to contract. The part of the brain that initiates the automatic part of the fight or flight response (the amygdala) cannot tell if the situation is actually a danger to survival, or just a perceived threat. The body will respond to actual stress or perceived stress in the same way. And in experiencing stress over time, these contracted muscles will become shorter and produce a feeling of tightness in the hips and hamstrings, and the body will produce more of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.
However, there are many other reasons why you may have ‘tight hips’, it may be anatomical and related to the shape of your pelvis. In which case, there isn’t a lot you can do…
But thankfully, if it is muscular, Butterfly Pose can help!
How to do it-
Come into a cross legged position.
Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to relax down towards the ground.
Bring your heels a comfortable distance from your buttocks.
Take hold of your ankles or feet, gently pressing your feet together.
Stay in Butterfly Pose for 5 breaths.
If you would like to take the pose a little further, gently fold your upper body over your legs. Being sure to fold from the hips, keeping the spine straight.
Watch out for-
The tilt of your pelvis. If your pelvis tilts upwards when you are in this pose, sit on a pillow, block or folded blanket. This will help to bring your pelvis back into a neutral position, reducing strain in the lower back and encouraging a neutral spine.
How to do it the Yin way
Come into a cross legged position
Bring the soles of your feet together.
Instead of bringing your heels close to your buttocks, as in the ‘yang’ way, take the heels a little further away from your buttocks (so that when you bring your hands together and straighten your arms, your fingers just about touch your heels).
Take hold of your ankles or legs and gradually bring your head down towards your feet.
In the yin version, your back can be curved. Relax your upper body over legs, surrendering into the pose.
Stay here for 3-5 minutes.
As with the yang way, if your pelvis is tilting upwards, sit on a pillow to bring it back to neutral. If it is not comfortable for you to hold your upper body in this position for 3 minutes, rest your head on a bolster or some pillows.
When you are ready to come out of the pose, be very slow and mindful.
Slowly raise your upper body and straighten your legs, gently moving them in a way that feels good for you.
Stretches the inner thighs, knees and groin area.
Relieves sciatica (if done the ‘yang’ way. The yin way can aggravate sciatica)
Reduces menstrual pain/discomfort.
If practiced in late pregnancy, is said to ease child birth.
Massages internal organs and stimulates digestion.
The yin version works stimulates the gall bladder and urinary bladder meridians. And if the stretch is felt in the inner thighs, the kidney and liver lines are being stimulated.