Wide Seated Forward Bend
Sanskrit: Upavistha Konasana
Image of courtesy of Yogajournal.com
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend is one of my challenge poses. It’s very simple and yet one that works more on me mentally than physically. In the past I have not been able to bend forward very far if at all once my legs are wide. For this I had to work on mental thoughts and the ego instead. I may not ever get to the low bend that the flexible woman to the right is doing. And that’s okay. We each have unique anatomy. It’s how we’re put together. However, I also know that the more you practice the pose and the more you surrender to where you *are* rather than pushing or giving up, the more your body will simply extend or bend further into the pose. You just simply follow your breath and surrender to wherever you are naturally and allow your body to be where it may. As you breathe you will notice yourself moving further into the pose.
After doing this pose for six years and more diligently once a week for over a year now, I am finally able to place my forearms comfortably in front of me on the mat. My bend is a little further while still maintaining a straight back and surrendering to wherever I fall. It just happened that one day I was diligently flowing into this pose as usual and then it hit me that I could lower down further than I had been before and without much effort. So now I am comfortable resting on my forearms. I know that as I practice this more and more that maybe in another year or two I may be able to come even further into this pose. We’ll see! But I am happy to keep the lesson and surrender to where I am at, focus on my breath and be.
This pose is fantastic for the groin, hips, calves, thighs, knees, hamstrings and spine. This is a fantastic grounding pose that also assists you in going inwards during the forward bend portion of the pose.
Directions on how to come into the pose:
Come into a seated position. Extend your legs out in front of you. Then open your legs wide to either side (about 90 angle or as wide as you can go to make a partial triangle). You might feel like you are falling forward, so take a moment and place your hands behind you and inhaling lengthen your spine. We want good posture here. If you can’t sit comfortably on the floor, you may want to roll a blanket or mat to go under your sits bones. From here, be mindful of the knees. Be sure the knee caps are pointing upward toward the ceiling and especially as we bend. Use the thighs to reach outwards to assist with the knee caps. Flex your feet and press through the ball of your feet.
While pressings your thigh bones into the mat and your spine elongated, begin to walk your hands straight forward between your legs. Maintain the length in the arms as you reach. Walk as far forward as you can. Remember we are hinging from the hips here. Good posture in the back and tilt the pelvis to assist with this forward bend. As you inhale, extend the spine and as you exhale surrender further into the pose. Inhale, extend. Exhale, surrender. Inhale, extend. Exhale, surrender. Gaze slightly forward for your head to be in line with your spine. If you are like the woman in the image above and would like to go further in this stretch, take your two peace fingers (index finger and middle finger) and wrap them around the big toe as you lower down even further to the floor, again while maintaining good posture in the spine. Hold and breathe. Hold for about one minute and then slowly come up with a straight back. Bend your knees and slide your legs in for a good counter pose, such as Baddha Konasana (or Butterfly Pose).
When not to do this pose or to modify/Contraindications:
If you have lower back injury be sure to sit up high on a blanket. It’s best not to bend forward too much with lower back injury so keep your torso relatively upright.
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