Upavista Konasana: Seated Wide Leg Forward bend

Upavista = Seated; Kona = Angle

Clear any thought from your head that this pose is about getting your chest to the floor. It is most important to keep the keep the back straight and let the forward bend come from the rotation of the pelvis. From head to toe, the body stays connected in order to work the deep muscle fibers.
There are two major tendencies in this pose. One is to round the spine in especially in the thorasic area in an effort to get the chest or head to the floor. The other is to let the legs and feet become passive and soft loosing the connection into the deep core muscles. Flexi people also easily loose this connection.

BACK TO ASANA PRACTICE

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The pelvis: The pelvis is precisely where this pose must be generated from. Let’s work on this area first.

Bend the knees slightly. Press the tailbone into the floor. Press the hands into the floor behind you to aid in the lifting of the front and the back side of the upper body away from the pelvis. The idea is to get as much spinal length as possible. This includes the cervical spine (the neck) too. Lift the head up but don’t overarch the back of the neck. On your inhalations, lift the trunk forward and up. Make the back slightly concave.

Extend the legs, performing Pada Bandha. What this means is that toes again point towards the body. The big toe bone presses forward and the little toe bone rolls backwards towards the outer hip. Feel from this action that the whole leg becomes engaged. The knees and toes point directly towards the ceiling. The backs of the legs feel wide. Work to bring as little space as is possible between the
hamstrings and the mat. The outer legs draw slightly back.

There are three different hand placements for this pose depending on your flexibilty. Tighter people keep the hands on the floor behind you with the fingertips pressing. If you feel like you can maintain the length in the back body and strong legs, bring the fingertips in front of you shoulder distance apart. If that feels good, go ahead and bring the peace (index and middle) fingers on the big toes from the inside.

Bending Forward: Rotate from the pelvis to bring the torso towards the floor. Don’t sacrifice any of the alignment we have created so far. Breathe calmly and evenly. Stay here at least thirty seconds. Sometimes it is nice to hold this pose as long as five minutes for some real release. Not so Flexi People: Please don’t get too down on yourself if the hamstrings remain far from the floor. Be patient. Just remember if you don’t work strict alignment, first of all you will risk injury to the hamstrings and lumbar disks of the lower back. Secondly, those stubborn places in the body that need to be worked will be missed because only the loser places are being used.

Flexi People: Your work is to create more core strength in the asana. Don’t lose that pada Bhanda connection. Feel the legs strong – you should be able to see the muscles of your flexed quadriceps. Try and hold the pose one inch off the floor.