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Upavishta-konasana (Seated wide-legged forward bend)

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Upavishta-konasana

Upavishta Konasana – उपविष्ट-कोणासन –

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(Seated wide-legged forward bend) is an intermediate level pose and helps a great deal in stretching the inner thigh and inner knee muscles and the entire spine. It also brings about a sense of calm to the mind that helps relieve stress and anxiety. The word upavishta means "seated" and kona means "angle".

Instructions

  1. Sit on your mat with your legs stretched straight in front.
  2. Place your hands on the floor behind you and lean your torso back slightly. Then begin to widen your legs as far as it is comfortable for you. Pressing the hands firmly into the floor, try to bring your buttocks forward along the floor. This should help widen the legs even further. In your final position, the legs could be 90 degrees apart or even wider.
  3. Try to keep the kneecaps and the toes pointing upward. With your spine elongated and straight, place the hands on the floor in front of you. Now, slowly begin to walk your hands forward, away from you. As you move your hands away, fold from the hips, not the waist. Avoid rounding the spine. Go only as far as it feels comfortable.
  4. Continue to increase your forward bend until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, inner thighs and inside of the knees. As soon as you begin to feel a resistance from any part of the body, back off a little and try to relax the muscles. When the muscles are loose and relaxed, they may be willing to go for a deeper stretch.
  5. When you feel that you have reached your final pose, spread your arms to the sides and try to hold your big toes by making a loop with your thumbs and first two fingers. If you are unable to get to the toes, hold on to any part of the legs that you can reach with the hands.
  6. Depending upon the level of your flexibility, you may be able to bring your forehead or your chin to the floor.
  7. Maintain the final position for as long as it feels comfortable. Try to build up your capacity to stay in the pose for a minute or longer.
  8. To come out of the pose, gently begin to walk your hands back toward your body, bringing your torso upright while keeping your spine long.
  9. Relax in any cross-legged position for a few breaths.

Preparing for Upavishta Konasana

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Viparita Karani (wall)

Before attempting the Upavishta Konasana, it is a good idea to do a few other stretches that will help you stretch the thigh muscles, knees and the spine. There are many such asanas that can be done as preparation for the Upavishta Konasana. I am giving below just a few of these asanas.

Viparita Karani (reclining legs up the wall)

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Wide-legged Viparita Karani (wall)

Lie down on the back with the buttocks touching the wall. Place the legs in a vertical position, resting them against the wall, keeping the buttocks on the floor. Stay in this position for about one minute.

Pada-prasaritasana viparita karani (reclining wide-legged stretch against the wall)

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Baddha Konasana (wall)

While in the Viparita Karani against the wall, begin to spread the legs wide apart. Keeping the buttocks touching the wall and resting on the floor, try to spread the feet as wide as comfortable. Stay in the final pose for about one minute.

Reclining Baddha Konasana against the wall (bound angle pose)

From the Viparita Karani position, bend the knees, joining the soles of the feet together. Try to slide the heels as far down as comfortable while keeping the knees gently pushed away closer to the wall. Maintain the final position for about a minute.

To come out of the pose, roll over to one side and rest in shavasana for a few moments.

Prasarita-Padottanasana (standing wide-legged forward bend)

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Wide-legged forward bend

From a standing position, spread the legs wide apart. Now begin to bend forward, placing the palms on the floor, in line with the feet. Adjust the distance between the feet in an effort to lower the head to the floor as well without straining. Stay in the final position for about a minute. To come out, very gently roll yourselves back up to a standing position and relax for a few moments. For details on the pose, please visit my blog post here.

Seated wide-legged stretch

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Seated Wide-legged side stretch

Sit with the legs stretched in front. Now begin to spread the legs wide apart as far as comfortable. Try to keep the spine tall and vertical. As you inhale, spread the arms out horizontal and while exhaling, turn your body to the left, stretch the right hand toward the left foot and position the left hand either on the floor or wrap it behind the back. Try to drop the chest on top of the thigh in front, keeping the shoulders square and balanced. While inhaling, come up and bring the arms back to the horizontal position. While exhaling repeat these moves on the other side. Do about 5-6 repetitions of these moves. Finally sit and relax in any cross-legged position.

For a more detailed description of the pose, please visit my blog here.

Benefits:

  • Stretches the hamstrings and inner thighs
  • Stretches the inside of the knees, calves, the groin area and the pelvic area
  • Provides a great stretch for the entire length of the spine
  • Calms the mind and rejuvenates the body
  • Provides a massage for the kidneys that can help detoxify the body
  • The deep forward bend gives massage to the internal organs like the live, pancreas etc. which can help in digestion, and metabolism.
  • Provides help for sciatica and arthritis

Contraindications and cautions

  • Avoid the pose in case of severe back pain or a recent hip or leg/knee injury.
  • If you have lower back pain, you may want to sit on a folded blanket or a flat cushion; try to keep your spine elongated.
  • If the back begins to hurt while bending forward, you may place a bolster in front and rest your forehead on the bolster. This should provide relief to the back.
  • If the knees or thighs begin to hurt, feel free to fold the knees slightly. You may want to place a folded blanket under the knees for support. Try never to stretch beyond your natural limit.

I hope you will be able to integrate the Upavishta Konasana as a part of your daily routine. I would love to get your feedback and comments.

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