Upavistha Konasana - TINT Yoga

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Upavistha Konasana Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold

    Quick Facts

  • Sanskrit (Original): Upaviṣṭa Koṇāsana
  • Etymology: Seated (upaviṣṭa); angle (koṇa); pose (āsana)
  • Fun Fact about the pose: Upavistha Konasana teaches you to reach the limits of your range of motion through strength and groundedness.
  • Asana Type: Forward Fold, Seated
  • Main length muscle groups: Spinal extensors; gluteus medius and minimus; piriformis; gracilis, hamstrings
  • Main strength muscle groups: Core; spinal muscles
  • Vinyasa Breath: Inhale and exhale possible

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How to Cue the Pose: Step By Step

  • 1 For Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold, start in a seated position such as Dandasana. Make sure your hips are directly stacked above the sit bones so that the pelvis is upright.
  • 2 Open your legs to the sides as much as available to you. Remember to respect the limits of your body rather than forcing your legs open.
  • 3 Flex the feet so that the toes point up. Push the heels down into the mat. Keep a little bend in the knees if the strain on your hamstrings is too much.
  • 4 Ground the sit bones by pulling the fleshy part of your buttocks out from underneath you. This helps you maintain the upright position of the pelvis.
  • 5 Place the hands or fingertips on the mat in front of you and between your legs.
  • 6 On an inhale, lift up your chest to lengthen your spine. Draw the navel in and up to activate your core as this will support your lower back.
  • 7 Exhale and hinge forward from the hips walking your hands further away from you. Eventually, you can rest your forearms on the ground or even the entire upper body.
  • 8 Avoid rounding the back but keep a gentle curve in your spine instead. To do so, focus on bringing your chest toward the mat rather than the forehead.
  • 9 Work dynamically in the pose by lengthening the spine with every inhale and folding further forward with every exhale.
  • 10 To come out of Upavistha Konasana, walk the hands back towards you and return to an upright seated position. Bend the knees a bit more and gently bring the legs back together.

Working The Details: Alignment In The Pose

Learn about common mistakes and teaching perspectives of the pose in our Asana Tutorials.

  • Engage the core: It may sound a bit counter-intuitive at first, but engaged core muscles are crucial to keep your lumbar spine safe. If you do not activate your core, your back will remain rounded, putting a lot of pressure on your discs. So, draw the navel in and up as you lengthen the entire torso. This stability will also help you to stay upright.
  • Focus forward rather than down: It might be very tempting to bring the forehead to the floor as this gives you the impression that you are in a really deep forward fold. However, don’t let that illusion trick you. Be humble and focus on drawing the chest forward instead of letting the head pull your torso down. As you work with your breath and lengthen the spine with every inhale, you will notice that this will also bring you further down toward the mat.
  • Respect the limits of your body: Wherever you look, you’ll see people with perfectly straight legs in Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold. But remember, that these pictures have usually been taken after a thorough warm-up and most likely by very flexible people. The thing is, if you force your legs straight, you’re likely to overstretch your hamstrings and adductors. As a result, your muscles will start to resist the movement and become even more tight. If you allow yourself to keep the knees slightly bent, you will be much better able to reach the deep muscle fibers and lengthen the muscle. In general, you want to feel the stretch at the “belly” of the muscles, not close to the joints they attach to.

Adapting The Pose Through Modifications

Simplify

  • If your hamstrings and adductors are screaming as you extend your legs out to the sides in Upavistha Konasana, keep the legs slightly bent. You can even support the knees with a rolled-up blanket or towel underneath them.
  • Elevate your hips on a cushion or yoga block if you feel you cannot maintain the anterior (forward) tilt of your pelvis. In general, bringing the hips higher than the knees makes it easier to tilt the pelvis.
  • You can also do the pose without folding forward and just opt for the wide-legged seated position. In this case, you can even place the hands or fingertips behind you instead of in front of you. Pushing them into the ground behind you will even help you to keep your spine straight if your abdominal muscles are not strong enough (yet) to hold you.
    Stack two or even three bolsters or blocks on top of each other to find support for your upper body and/or forehead to rest on and stay in the pose for some minutes to make it restorative.

Level Up

  • If you want to take Upavistha Konasana to its extremes, fold so much forward that you can place your belly flat on the ground. However, beware of keeping your knees pointing upward and your belly engaged even if it may be tempting to let it rest comfortably on the ground.
  • Move your torso over to one side and then the other stretching over the legs to get more stretch on one side.

Benefits of Upavistha Konasana

  • One of the most obvious benefits of this Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold is probably its intense stretch for the legs, especially the hamstrings and inner thighs.
  • Apart from that, it also stretches the groins and the entire back.
  • As it requires solid core activation to hold your torso, this pose also strengthens the abdominal and back muscles. As a result, it can help you improve your posture in general.
  • If performed correctly, the length created in the spine can even provide relief in cases of sciatica or other back pain issues.
    Working with, and focusing on, your breath increases focus and concentration and improves body awareness.

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This pose reminds me to stay humble as I am one of the people who is already in the full pose when extending the legs outside. However, focusing on externally rotating the thighs and grounding my sit bones, helps me to tilt at least a tiny bit forward. Don’t take flexibility for granted!

Doreen

Content Manager at TINT | Passionate Yoga Teacher

FAQ: Common questions about this pose

There are two possible answers to this question: Either your adductors are too tight or too weak (or even a combination of both). Due to the external rotation and abduction of the hips, Upavistha Konasana stretches all five adductor muscles: adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis. These muscles run from the pubic bone to the inner femur (thigh bone) and, in the case of the gracilis, to the tibia (shin bone). If the adductors are very tight, this may cause adduction and internal rotation of the thighs, i.e. the exact opposite of what we need in this pose. Weak adductors, on the other hand, may cause the patella (kneecap) to shift out of place once the leg is straightened (lateral patellar tracking). In this case, it is even healthier to keep the legs further together until the adductors are strong enough to hold the kneecap in place.

In order to be able to fold forward, you need to tilt the pelvis forward (anterior tilt). Tight hamstrings usually prevent us from tilting forward as they pull the entire superficial backline down, causing your pelvis to tilt back. As a result, your back rounds and you will not be able to fold forward because every forward fold requires a slight backbend. Bending the knees can be a remedy here as this eases the pull on the hamstrings and gives your pelvis more range of motion. You can further support the forward tilt if you sit on the front edge of your sit bones. To do this, place your hands next to your buttocks, lift the buttocks up and push them back. Then, bring your sit bones back onto the mat and you will notice that you sit a tiny bit more on the front edge (I always imagine sliding down the edge of the pavement). As a rule of thumb: The more you are able to tilt the pelvis forward, the better you will be able to fold forward.

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You spend more time writing down, crossing out and re-writing your yoga sequence than you actually spend time practicing it?

Make your life easier!

Save time and create

inspiring sequences today!

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