This month’s pose is Seated-Angle, or Upavistha Konasana. Upavistha translates as seated and kona as angle, which is fairly straightforward! This is a fun posture because it can serve as either a Yin or Yang pose, and we will go through both variations here. If you spend a lot of time in a chair with your legs close together or even crossed, you probably have tight adductors. Tightness in the adductors can make Upavistha Konasana much more challenging, so be kind to yourself and try not to force your body into the posture. This pose provides a stretch for the adductors and the hamstrings, increases mobility in the hip joints, and can even alleviate menstrual cramps. Upavistha Konasana can also calm the nervous system and helps to relieve sciatic nerve pain.
We will cover the Yang version of this posture first, which essentially means keeping engagement in the legs. This is the version found in most vinyasa-style classes. Begin seated. You can ensure engagement in the leg muscles by flexing the toes toward the ceiling. Notice how this action tightens the kneecaps so that they do not move. Separate your legs as wide apart as you can without bringing discomfort into the knees. You may experience a lot of sensation here, which is a sign to stay right where you are! Resist rounding forward from the lower back: this is a flexion movement that can put a lot of pressure on the discs between the lumbar vertebrae. Instead initiate the forward movement from the hip joints and pelvis, and then let the spine follow. Please avoid practicing the posture if you experience any strain in your inner thigh muscles.
The Yin version of this posture is very similar, but involves less engagement. Allow the kneecaps to soften and the feet to fall open. Nothing more is required–simply be present and breathe. Notice how the body changes as you hold the posture, feel the softening, and allow yourself to be at ease. Allowing our body to naturally draw deeper into the posture without forcing is the Yin version of this practice.
Incorporating Upavistha Konasana into your regular practice several times a week will help increase your flexibility. You may find that this openness enables you to more fully enjoy other poses. At its most basic, a forward fold opens up the entire back of your body. When you take the shape of a forward bend, you are also drawing inward toward yourself, which encourages a sense of introspection and stillness that is sometimes hard to find in postures that are more invigorating, such as backbends and standing poses. Upavistha Konasana is a powerful opportunity for self-study: can you watch each breath as it moves through the body and creates a deeper connection with your practice?