Utkata Konasana - TINT Yoga

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Utkata Konasana Goddess Pose

    Quick Facts

  • Sanskrit (Original): Utkaṭa Koṇāsana
  • Etymology: Powerful or fierce (utkaṭa); angle (koṇa); pose (āsana)
  • Fun Fact about the pose: Goddess Pose is like the mighty sister of Squat Pose (Malasana). Holding the pose while embodying the power can literally change your state of being.
  • Asana Type: Standing
  • Main length muscle groups: Adductors, quadriceps, pectoralis
  • Main strength muscle groups: Muscles of the feet and ankles, calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, pelvic floor, glutes, muscles of the core, muscles of the spine, serratus anterior, biceps brachii
  • Vinyasa Breath: Exhale

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How to Cue the Pose: Step By Step

  • 1Start in a standing position with the legs standing sideways on the mat in a really wide stance.
  • 2Begin with both feet pointing forwards and from there turn your toes more outwards about 45 degrees (or even more depending on the range of motion in your hip joint).
  • 3Ground the four points of each foot (big toe mount, pinky toe, inner side of the heel, outer side of the heel) down into the mat.
    Bend your knees and lower your buttocks down to come into a half squat. Be sure to have your knees pointing in the same direction as the middle of your toes.
  • 4Raise your arms into a W-shape and bring the hands into Vayu Mudra, in which the thumb is placed upon the tip of the index finger.
    Let the hips sink down whilst keeping the legs engaged. Lift the sternum and lift the ribcage up and away from the hips.
  • 5Remain in the pose for one breath, ten breaths or as long as you like and embrace the power of a goddess.

Working The Details: Alignment In The Pose

  • Lengthen the quadriceps: In this pose, the quadriceps are the main strength muscles supporting your torso safely above your hips. However, you can add in a simultaneous action of lengthening the muscle by actively pushing the knees outwards. Imagine your knees extending much further out and beyond your toes (they are not actually moving in this direction; it is simply the isometric engagement of the muscle that will provide extra length).
  • Stabilize the pelvis: A common thing happening is that the pelvis excessively tilts forward in the pose. This will look like you are creating a ducktail in your lower back. As a result, your lumbar spine curves inwards quite deeply and cranks into your SI joint. As a consequence, this can lead to compromising your lower back. To prevent this, create an even curve in the lower back by keeping the hips rather neutral. You can achieve this by gently guiding your sacrum and tailbone down towards the ground. This will stabilize your pelvis so that it can sustainably support the spine and torso above it.
  • Move in two directions: Have your hips sinking down as if you were sitting down on a stool and let the rib cage and torso lift up and gett lighter. This way you extend into two directions within one pose.

Adapting The Pose Through Modifications

Simplify

  • Depending on the strength of your leg and core muscles, Goddess Pose can be quite challenging to uphold for some longer breath cycles. You can make it a bit easier for yourself by resting your hands on the tops of your thighs. Using the thighs as support for the weight of the upper body allows you to sink more passively down with the buttocks.
  • Alternatively to the above version with the hands you can also rest on a chair or table.
  • If you notice that you are cranking your hips and knees to far outwards in an attempt to follow the direction of your toes, rather stick to not turning your toes too far outwards to keep the knee joints safe. Perhaps in a later stage, once your hip joints allow for more range of motion, you can try again to turn your toes a bit further outwards.

Level Up

  • Get the quads going and make it a dynamic pose by adding little pulsations (like mini-squats) to your legs. Inhaling you slightly straighten the legs and exhaling each time you move a bit deeper into the squat.
  • Another fun way to play with the pose is shifting your weight from one knee to the other (so you are shifting on a sideways plane). This will help to mobilize and open up the hip joint. Also, this version offers a great opportunity to observe the condition of your hip joints.
  • Fire up your calves and practice Goddess Pose with raised heels. You can start by raising one heel and then the other alternating or go straight for the full on challenge with both heels lifted of the ground. Try to come as high as possible onto your big toes.
  • Play with different arm positions in Goddess Pose. You can, for example, extend the arms to the sides like an airplane, bring the palms together in Anjali Mudra, or intertwine the arms into Eagle (Garudasana) arms. There are so many different options – so let your creativity run free!
  • You can also increase the backend in Goddess Pose by opening the rib cage even more. To avoid sinking into the backbend, interlace your thumbs and pull them away from each other. This will activate your back muscles and give you more stability. At the same time, focus on pushing the back thigh up.

Benefits of Utkata Konasana

  • Goddess Pose is a great pose when it comes to pelvic floor health as the pelvic floor can either be stretched or strengthened, depending on how you build up the pose. Individuals with an overly tight pelvic floor can let the hips sink down passively in the pose, while those seeking to strengthen their pelvic diaphragm can work on isometrically pulling the feet towards each other as if pushing the mat together.
  • Utkata Konasana is a very grounding yoga pose because you root down into the earth and gather a lot of strength and stability in the lower area of your body. This effect is even increased in the combination with the Vayu Mudra which releases an excess of air or vata and thus contributes to more groundedness in the body.
  • The yoga pose strengthens and tones the whole body: in particular the glutes, legs and feet. It opens up the chest, elongates the spine and helps to build stamina and endurance.
  • Goddess Pose stretches especially the inner line of the leg, which tends to be shortened for most people from sitting with closed legs all day long. The pose also stretches and opens up the hips.
  • It is a very helpful pose to warm up and energize the whole body.
  • Goddess Pose improves the sense of balance, concentration and focus.
  • On an energetic level, the embodiment of Goddess Pose can boost confidence and the sense of power and self-efficacy.

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I deeply enjoy observing my students in Goddess Pose as they usually try to open the legs and feet as wide as possible. It feels so good to get the extra permission open up the legs and stretch them out which we seem to do so little in our everyday life.

Stephi

Content Manager at TINT | Passionate Yoga Teacher

FAQ: Common questions about this pose

Goddess Pose is a brilliant pose to warm up and strengthen the whole body, especially the lower part. It opens up and stretches the inner thighs and can also be beneficial in case of pelvic floor issues as it can help to either strengthen or soften the pelvic diaphragm (see more above).

The name of the pose arises from its Sanskrit translation. Utkaṭa means powerful or fierce. Koṇa means angle and āsana means pose. So it is literally the Fierce Angle Pose and describes exactly what the pose feels like. The more common English translation is Goddess Pose or even Goddes Squat.

Goddess Pose works to activate the first three chakras, i.e., the Root Chakra (Muladhara), the Sacral Chakra (Swadisthana) and the Navel/Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura). This activation of the chakras will improve the flow of energy also known as prana in your body.

This greatly depends on the dynamics of the class and what you want to achieve with the pose. In more dynamic classes like in Vinyasa yoga, you could use Goddess Pose as a transition pose or do little active pulsations. Here, you will work with the principle of one breath, one movement. If you are practicing a therapeutic yoga class or want to spend more time working on the details, the recommendation is to hold the pose around five to ten full breath cycles (one inhale and one exhale equals one full cycle of breath).

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