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

Iyengar's difficulty rating: 9* out of 60*

Iyengar's Technique:

  1. Stand in Tadasana. Engage your quadriceps to tighten your kneecaps.
  2. On an inhale, raise your R leg and bend your knee. Externally rotate your R leg in the hip socket until you can put your leg into the half lotus position - the knife edge of your R foot resting on or above your L hip crease, with the sole of your foot facing straight up. You may need to use your hands to help maneuver your R foot into place.
  3. Hold your R foot in place with your L hand. Then bring your R arm behind your back and catch hold of your R big toe with your index finger, middle finger, and thumb.
  4. Release your L hand from your R foot. On an exhale, fold forward at the hips and place your L hand on the floor next to your L foot. Lift your chest and keep your spine in extension; "make the back as concave as possible."
  5. On an exhale, fold deeper and rest your head or chin on your L knee or shin.
  6. If you cannot rest your whole palm on the floor, start with fingertips and gradually progress down onto your palm over time. Similarly, you may only be able to touch your forehead to your knee at first; as you continue to practice, progress towards the tip of your nose, then your lips and finally your chin.
  7. After a few deep breaths, inhale and straighten your L arm, returning to step #4. Breathe here.
  8. Rise up, then slowly release your R hand from your foot, lift your R leg out of half lotus, and return to Tadasana.

Comparing Forms:

  • Iyengar is able to externally rotate his R leg more than I. As a result, my R knee is in front of my hip socket. His R knee is on the same plane as his hip socket. Do not assume this means he is doing the pose "better." These comparisons are observations without any judgement! Excessive external rotation is not necessarily a good thing; every individual has a differently-shaped bones in their legs and pelvis. Attempting to externally rotate beyond the range your bones allow is not only fruitless, it can be deleterious to your hip labrum. And even if your bones aren't stopping you from going further, aggressively pursuing deeper and deeper shapes can sometimes be an expression of resistance or lack of awareness, rather than a sign of progress on the path.
  • My toes and arches are far more active than Iyengar's.
  • Iyengar has chosen to extend his neck so that his chin moves towards his shin. I have chosen to flex my neck and bring my whole face closer to my shin.