Bhadrasana ( Cobbler Pose ) - Issues and solutions
List of some of the issues that can be relevant for practising this pose:
· Upper Back and Neck
· Lumbar Spine
· Circulation in the legs
Upper Back and Neck
There is relatively little strain in the pose on either the neck or upper back – provided the lumbar spine is well positioned – see below.
However, some people do tend to slouch forwards – a solution here is to think in terms of lifting the breastbone and imagining the shoulders
broadening away from each other.
Some people tend to jut their chins forwards (putting compressive extension into the neck) – a solution here is to draw the chin into the
front of the neck or to imagine the top back of the neck being gently pulled upwards (or both).
There is a tendency in this pose to allow one’s lower back to curve outwards. Problems with this include putting the lumbar spine into
compressive flexion and also encouraging the upper back to curve outwards, tending to thoracic kyphosis type problems. In this case, a
solution is to tilt the pelvic girdle forwards. Putting padding under the buttocks so that the hips are raised a little can, for some people, make
it easier to sit with the pelvis tilted forwards sufficiently. It can also help to put wedge-shaped padding under the buttocks with the slope
facing forwards as this will encourage the pelvis to be tilted forwards. Another approach is to practise a supine version of the pose so that
the spinal shape is
supported by the floor, or to practise with one’s back against a wall to give one extra feedback and guidance on one’s spine’s shape.
Circulation in the legs
In this pose the circulation to and from the legs is restricted, though perhaps not as much as in seated poses – like the lotus pose. Thus,
when sitting in this pose for more than one exercise, it is a good idea to straighten or inwardly rotate your legs between the exercises.
Those with an already compromised circulation in the legs (e.g. varicose veins, thrombosis in the legs or oedema in the legs [or pregnancy])
should take particular care that there are never any signs that the circulation in the legs has been compromised (e.g. legs or feet going slightly
numb, or pins and needles upon releasing the cross-legged position). Placing the feet slightly further away from the pelvic girdle can help (as
this makes the knees less fully flexed), as can sitting on some padding. Some will find that it is only the feet that have a circulation issue. This
is a result of the veins at the surface of the ankle being compressed between the bone of the ankle and the ground – putting soft padding
under the ankles can help in these circumstances. The main solutions to circulation issues in the legs are to either hold the leg position for
short(er) periods or to adopt a pose which does not restrict the circulation in the legs as much (Egyptian Pose and Dandasana are better
in this regard).
The flexibility (or, rather, lack of flexibility) of the hip joints with regard to outward rotation is usually a key limiting factor in this pose – however,
it simply means that the knees don’t end up quite so close to the ground. It can, however, have “knock-on” effects on the rest of the posture and,
in particular, with regard to the positioning of the pelvic girdle - and thus on the shape of the spine. Also, if the knees are not close to the ground,
one tends to feel “less grounded” or less stable and, traditionally for pranayama and meditation practices, one is advised to have the knees lower
than the hips. For these issues relating to stiff hips, an effective solution is usually to place some padding (e.g. folded towel or yoga blocks) under
one’s buttocks – the stiffer the hips are, the more padding it is usually helpful to have. Sometimes it can also be helpful to place some firm(ish)
padding under the knees and hold the pose while gently pressing the knees into the padding – this gives a good feeling of stability (both with
regard to the ground and internally).
If the knees are high off the ground this can cause the ankles to have a significant degree of sideways flexion – if this is uncomfortable you may
find that placing more padding under the buttocks helps – if not, you might do better with a different sitting pose.
The other issue is that some people find that the “bony bits” of the ankles press uncomfortably down into the ground / yoga mat – placing
some soft padding under the ankles helps enormously (but bear in mind that this might mean you need a little more padding under the buttocks).
Practising yoga in the first trimester is considered by most yoga teachers to be contra-indicated. The only explanation I have
heard for this is that in the first trimester there is a fairly high tendency for spontaneous miscarriage and this could in principle be exacerbated
by yoga (although, as far as I know, there is no evidence for this). Possibly a mid-wife or an expert pregnancy yoga teacher might be able to
give a better explanation.
A key issue here is the reduction in circulation in the legs which makes this a posture to avoid sitting in for extended periods – but it is usually
fine and comfortable if one remembers to move the legs regularly. Another issue is that the joints of the pelvic girdle are encouraged to relax by
hormones in the later stages of pregnancy (in preparation for childbirth) – thus extra care needs to be taken not to over-stretch the musclature
and ligaments associated with the hips and pelvic girdle. So, while this pose can be very helpful in pregnancy, there is no need to work on
actively stretching the inner thigh muscles.