For a seemingly simple seated forward fold, this pose is a mouthful: Upavishta konasana translates into seated angle pose. I often joke with my students that saying it in Sanskrit is harder than doing it. But upon careful analysis of this seated posture, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
How to Perform Wide-Angle Seated Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana)
Although upavishta konasana is in the forward-bend family, spinal extension also plays a role.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended, and open them to approximately 90 degrees. Your knees and toes should point directly toward the ceiling, your feet should be flexed.
- Bring your awareness to your pelvis and notice any tendency for it to tilt backward. If that’s the case for you, try to shift your weight forward toward your pubic bone.
- Without allowing your spine to round, start to walk your hands forward along the floor between your legs, hinging at your hip joints rather than your waist.
- Walk your hands forward as far as you can, and hold for 5-10 long and smooth cycles of breath, keeping your quad muscles engaged.
- Slowly return to an upright position, using your hands under the backs of your knees to bring your legs together.
How to Make Upavishta Konasana Easier
Sitting on the floor with straight legs is very difficult for many people. This is primarily due to tightness in the hamstrings and lower back. Fortunately there are modifications and variations that make this pose accessible to various bodies.
- Sitting on a support — a foam block or folded blanket, for instance — will help tilt the pelvis forward.
- Sitting with your legs wider apart often creates more freedom to stretch forward.
- Loop a belt around each foot to give yourself something to hold on to then focus on leaning forward and lifting your chest toward the ceiling.
How to Make Upavishta Konasana Harder
If this pose is “too easy,” it’s likely that you have an extraordinary amount of mobility or are super bendy. Make sure you’re sitting directly on top of your sit bones, keeping your pelvis in a neutral position rather than an anterior tilt. Bendy bodies, as a general rule, often need to work on stability, rather than mobility, in this seated forward bend.
- Add a lateral stretch: Without losing the rooting actions of one leg, fold over the other leg, and work on lifting your torso and lengthening over it. This adds a stretch to the other side of the lower back by introducing a twisting element.
Benefits of Upavistha Konasana
- Stretches hamstrings and adductors.
- Activates core musculature.
- Strengthens spinal erectors.
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