Updated: Sep 2, 2021
A classic pose seated on the floor known simply as bound seated-angle pose or open-angle pose, aiming to bring the legs and spine to align and work as in TADASANA (Pose of the month in January).
You might think Upavista Konasana is a quiet easy restful pose and yes it can be, but on this occasion, we are looking at a working pose.
Stage 1 Coming into Upavista Konasana
Sit with back erect and legs straight out in front of you as in DANDASANA move the legs sideways one by one, widening them as far as you can for Upavista Konasana.
First find both sit bones and ensure they have clear, full, and even contact with the ground. Keep plenty weight on them.
Next see that you can lift the spine from the base, if there is strain either on the spine or the back of the thighs, pull in the corner of a folded blanket to lift the sit bones as shown in 1c.
Otherwise aim for the back of the legs to rest entirely to the floor, if on a raise obviously this is not possible but at least keep the heels pressing down.
In any case extend into your heels and pull the kneecap up with the front thigh muscles ensuring the kneecap faces the ceiling, while ensuring the flesh of your back outer thighs remains down on the floor.
Stage 2 Coming into the full pose.
Now lean forward and catch your big toes, wrapping your index and middle fingers between the big toes and its neighbouring toes, closing the ‘ring’ with your thumbs for a firm connection and stretch the big toe up while still keeping plenty weight in your sit bones.
If you cannot manage to reach the toes use belts either for the toes (Stage 2a), or the feet as a whole. No belts? Then take the inner feet against a wall and press into it (stage 2b).
Use the connection of the toes, or feet, really lift the spine up so it feels erect, lengthening the diaphragm up from the belly to open up the sides of the waist and expand the chest.
Ensure the shoulders stay down away from the ears as you do this.
Now pull diaphragm up and hold the pose for a few seconds with smooth deep breaths for up to 1 minute.
Stage 3 PARSVA UPAVISTA KONASANA
For this variation, slightly reduce the distance between the legs so that the hamstrings are not under strain.
Sitting up take your arms up into URDHVA HASTASANA and revolve around the spine to face align your trunk with your right leg, bring the hands down to your leg and extend over the leg towards the foot. Either holding the toe or foot as before again draw the spine up before extending forwards. Widen your elbows and lead with your sternum.
Check in with the weight in your sit bones and the ground contact with your back thighs!!
Revisit each stage to release the pose then repeat on the left side.
Maintain the pose and breath normally for 1 minute.
Stage 4 ADHO MUKHA UPAVISTA KONASANA
Again widen legs to your to maximum as in the first pose.
This time you have the option to keep extending forward until the head comes to the floor then to further progress the pose: extend the neck to take the chin to the floor.
It is of course always possible to use any number of pillows or a bolster for support until such time as the floor is within reach 😊
In any case stay with normal breaths for 1-2 minutes then inhale and return to the original position with legs together.
Benefits of Upavista Konasana
It stretches the hamstrings and promotes good health for the pelvic region with an overall enhanced circulation which is particularly a boon for women.
In Light on Yoga BKS Iyengar states how in his experience this pose can relieve hernia and sciatic pains.
The energetic and esoteric qualities of the pose are similar to Baddha Konasana which was pose of the month in July.
Any questions you may have in practising this please ask your teacher.