Upavishta (उपविष्ट): This Sanskrit word translates to “seated” or “sitting.” In the context of Upavishta Konasana, it refers to the seated position of the practitioner with the legs extended wide apart.

Kona (कोण): “Kona” translates to “angle.” It signifies the angle formed between the legs when they are spread apart in a wide V-shape.

Asana (आसन): The term “asana” translates to “pose” or “posture.”

Upavishta Konasana, wide angle seated forward fold, is a wonderful hip opening posture from the Ashtanga Yoga primary series seated sequence.

Krista Shirley, owner of The Yoga Shala in Maitland, Florida, demonstrates Upavishta Konasana A from the Ashtanga Yoga primary series.

Upavishta Konasana A

Benefits of Upavishta Konasana

Improved Flexibility:

Upavishta Konasana primarily targets the hamstrings, inner thighs (adductors), and groin muscles. Regular practice gradually increases the flexibility of these muscle groups, which can be especially beneficial for individuals who experience stiffness in these areas.

Enhanced Hip Mobility:

The wide-legged stance in this pose encourages hip opening. It stretches and stimulates the hip joints, helping to alleviate tightness caused by prolonged periods of sitting or sedentary activities.

Spinal Extension:

The forward bend in Upavishta Konasana originates from the hips and extends through the spine. This action encourages the elongation of the spine, contributing to better posture and reduced strain on the back.

Strengthened Core Muscles:

Maintaining the forward fold engages the core muscles to support the spine and maintain stability, leading to gradual strengthening of the abdominal muscles.

Stress Relief:

The deep stretch and conscious breathing involved in this pose can promote relaxation and reduce stress. The act of folding forward can create a gentle release of tension in the back and neck.

Digestive Stimulation:

The compression of the abdominal area during the forward bend can stimulate the digestive organs, potentially aiding digestion and alleviating digestive discomfort.

Improved Circulation:

The wide-legged stance encourages blood flow to the pelvic region and legs, promoting better circulation and potentially relieving swelling in the legs.

Mindfulness and Concentration:

The practice of Upavishta Konasana requires focus and awareness of the body’s sensations. This mindfulness cultivates a sense of presence and concentration, which can have positive effects on overall mental well-being.

Calming Effect:

The combination of deep breathing and stretching can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a state of relaxation and tranquility.

Preparation for Deeper Forward Bends: Upavishta Konasana serves as a preparatory posture for more advanced forward bends. The gradual opening of the hips and improvement in flexibility can set the foundation for deeper yoga poses.

 

A yoga student practices Upavishta Konasana in the serene environment of the Yoga Shala studio in Maitland, Florida.

Click here to watch the YouTube tutorial for Upavishta Konasana​

Contraindications for Upavishta Konasana

While Upavishta Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend) can offer numerous benefits, there are certain contraindications and considerations to be mindful of, especially if you have specific health conditions or limitations. Always consult a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional before attempting this pose, particularly if you have any of the following issues:

Hamstring or Groin Injuries:

If you have a hamstring or groin injury, or if these areas are sensitive, performing Upavishta Konasana could exacerbate the discomfort. It’s important to proceed with caution and modify the pose or avoid it altogether until the area has healed.

Lower Back Issues:

Individuals with lower back problems, such as herniated discs or chronic lower back pain, should be cautious when folding forward in this pose. The forward bend can potentially strain the lower back if not executed correctly.

Knee Injuries:

People with knee injuries or conditions like knee arthritis should be careful while spreading the legs wide apart. Ensure that the knees are not forced into an uncomfortable position that could aggravate the knees.

Sciatica:

If you experience sciatic nerve pain, the forward bend in Upavishta Konasana might put pressure on the sciatic nerve and worsen the pain. It’s advisable to avoid deep forward bending and instead focus on poses that alleviate pressure on the lower back and hips.

Pregnancy:

Pregnant women, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy, should avoid deep forward bends like Upavishta Konasana. The pose could compress the abdomen and strain the pelvic area.  Work with a more gentle modification.

Recent Abdominal Surgery:

If you have had recent abdominal surgery or any condition that affects the abdominal area, deep forward bending might not be appropriate. It’s crucial to allow sufficient time for healing before attempting this pose.

Osteoporosis:

People with osteoporosis or a history of fractures should approach forward bends with care, as they can strain the spine and increase the risk of injury.

Remember that yoga should always be practiced with awareness and respect for your body’s limitations. If you’re uncertain about whether Upavishta Konasana is suitable for you, consult a healthcare professional or experienced yoga instructor who can provide personalized guidance based on your individual circumstances.

A yoga student practices Upavishta Konasana during Krista Shirley's Costa Rica Retreat, surrounded by lush tropical scenery. Krista Shirley, owner of The Yoga Shala in Maitland, FL, leads the retreat, which includes students from her studio.

Click here to watch the YouTube tutorial for Upavishta Konasana

Step-by-Step Instructions for the Full Expression of Baddha Konasana with Sanskrit Vinyasa Count

We will be entering this posture from downward facing dog, having just taken a vinyasa after Baddha Konasana to seated position.

Sapta (Vinyasa #7): From Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog), Inhale, look forward and walk or jump your feet through and have a seat on the floor.  Spread your legs out wide, with your feet flexed, and grab the outer edges of your feet with your hands.

Asthau (Vinyasa #8) Exhale, and fold forward in between your legs.  Press your stomach into the ground, keep your chest forward, head up, and reach your chin towards the floor.  Take five deep breaths here.  Gently press your tailbone backwards are you press your feet forward.  Also work to externally rotate your legs throughout the posture. Gaze down the tip of your nose (Nasagrai Drishti). Inhale, lift your head up, back is flat.

Nava (Vinyasa #9) Exhale there. Inhale, lift your arms and legs off the ground.  Grab your outer feet with your hands.  You are balancing on your sits bones.  Tilt your head back and look up, Urdhva Drishti.  Take five deep breaths here. Keep your chest lifted and your breath steady.

Dasa (Vinyasa #10) Exhale, draw your chin back to a neutral position.

Ekadasa (Vinyasa #11) Inhale, bring your hands to the floor, cross your legs and lift your body up off the ground.

Dvadasa (Vinyasa #12) Exhale and jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana.

Trayodasa (Vinyasa #13) Inhale into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana(Upward facing dog)

Caturdasa (Vinyasa #14) Exhale into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)

Tap above or click here to watch the YouTube tutorial for Upavishta Konasana

Modifications for Upavishta Konasana

(Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend) can help individuals with limited flexibility, injuries, or other physical considerations to still benefit from the pose without straining or risking discomfort. Here are some modifications that can be implemented:

Narrower Leg Position:

Instead of spreading the legs wide, bring them closer together to reduce the intensity of the stretch. This modification is suitable for individuals with tight inner thighs or hip limitations.

Bent Knees:

Slightly bend the knees to lessen strain on the hamstrings and lower back. This is especially helpful for those with hamstring issues or lower back sensitivities.

Wall Support:

Sit close to a wall and place the soles of your feet against the wall while spreading your legs. This offers a supportive surface for your legs and can make the pose more approachable.

Remember that modifications should be tailored to your individual needs and comfort level. It’s important to listen to your body and only go as far as feels appropriate without causing strain or pain. If you’re practicing under the guidance of a yoga instructor, they can provide personalized modifications based on your specific circumstances. Always prioritize safety and ease of movement in your practice.

Practice with The Yoga Shala

If you want to join us for LIVE classes, The Yoga Shala offers virtual and in person classes every weekday morning.  We are located at 140 Circle Drive, #4, Maitland, Florida. Owner, Krista Shirley, also offers virtual or in person private sessions (Yoga, Meditation, Breath-work, Nutrition, Life Coaching and Mentorship).  Visit theyogashala.com for details.

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We hope you find this video series helpful to you in creating or maintaining your yoga practice!

About Krista

Krista Shirley is a level II authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher.  She is deeply passionate about sharing these teachings with all who wish to learn.

If you want to join Krista in person she teaches daily classes at The Yoga Shala in Maitland, Florida. She also offers virtual sessions in Yoga, Meditation, Breath-work, Nutrition, Life Coaching and Mentorship.  Check out www.theyogashala.com for more details.

If you do not live in Central Florida and want to find an authorized teacher in your area, check out our teacher, Sharath Jois’ website, for a list of all teachers authorized and certified by his yoga centre in India.

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