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wide seated forward bend pose - upavistha konasana

 

Upavistha Konasana: Wide-Seated Forward Bend Pose


A great foundation for many seated poses, Upavistha Konasana (oo-pah-VEESH-tah cone-AHS-anna), or Wide-Seated Forward Bend pose, is also a great stretch on its own. A soothing way to stretch your hamstrings and groins, this seated pose will also strengthen the supporting muscles of your spine, improving your posture and promoting ease and comfort in your body.

Philosophy + Origin

Wide-Seated Forward Bend pose offers two very different experiences for most people. First, there’s the group of students who love the pose, who can stay in it completely relaxed with minimal effort. Then, of course, there’s the second group, who are immediately confronted with discomfort, irritation, and loads of negative self-talk and disbelief. In either camp, the experience of the posture is meant to be educational and, yes, transformational. Staying present in the pose, working with the breath to adjust the body and mind, is where the practice of yoga really comes into play.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Use a rolled blanket or bolster under your knees for extra support or if you are unable to straighten your legs completely while seated.
  • Place a folded blanket under your sit bones to help encourage your pelvis to tip forward and to prevent rounding in your spine.
  • Place a bolster in front of you in between your legs to rest on to lessen the intensity or to practice a more restorative version of the pose.
  • Use a strap around the soles of your feet to deepen the stretch while maintaining length in your spine.
  • Sit against a wall to support your spine.

CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:

  • Low back pain
  • Sacroiliac pain
  • Pregnancy

TIPS:

Rather than thinking of “bending” forward in this pose, as the name suggests, shift your mindset and focus on lengthening forward instead. Maintaining a neutral spine, and not allowing it to round too much especially in the lower spine, will help prevent discomfort and pain while practicing Upavistha Konasana. The length of your spine is always more important than the depth of this posture.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Begin by sitting in Staff pose on the floor. Extend your legs out and away from each other so they make a 90-degree angle. Place your hands palms facing down on the floor directly in front of your pelvis, and slide yourself forward a few inches to widen your legs a bit more. If your back already rounds while seated on the floor, use a folded blanket (or blankets) under your sit bones until you can sit comfortably.
  2. Rotate your inner thighs up toward the ceiling so your kneecaps face straight up. Extend out through your heels.
  3. As you press your thigh bones into the ground, start to bring your hands forward. As you move forward, keep your front torso long and your spine neutral. Bring your hands as far forward as you can while maintaining the length between your pubic bone and your navel.
  4. Use each exhale to increase the intensity of the forward bend. When you’ve arrived at your maximum depth, stay and hold the pose with long breaths for 60 seconds or several minutes. Use an inhale to bring your torso up when you’re ready to release.

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PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Baddha Konasana
  • Prasarita Padottanasana
  • Supta Baddha Konasana
  • Supta Padangusthasana

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

  • Bakasana
  • Gomukhasana
  • Malasana
  • Padmasana
  • Siddhasana or Sukhasana

SANSKRIT:

  • Upavistha = seated
  • Kona = angle
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Detoxifies kidneys
  • Stretches the groin, adductor muscles, and hamstrings
  • Strengthens the muscles along the spine
  • Improves posture
  • Eases arthritis discomfort
  • Reduces sciatica pain

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Promotes mind-body awareness
  • Encourages surrender

MANTRA:

““Om Shanti”
Reciting this simple mantra invokes peace and helps you surrender, letting go of excess or limiting thoughts. To practice, recite “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.”

MUDRA: Dhyana

A soothing gesture that invokes deep contemplation and self awareness, to practice dhyana mudra, place your hands on your lap with your left hand under your right, palms facing up. Bring the tips of the thumbs together to touch.

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