Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend  -Upavishta Konasana

Step by Step

  • From Dandasana / Staff pose, bring your legs apart, about ninety degrees or wider, up to a point where you feel a good stretch, but can still hold the pose, maintaining a straight spine, and without falling back.
  • To help your pelvis to tilt comfortably and to allow your spine to remain straight with no effort, sit on a folded blanket or block.
  • Flex your feet, and keep your knees and toes pointed up towards the ceiling. Press your legs and sitting bones down, and lengthen up through your spine.
  • With a straight back, place your hands between your legs on the floor, and slowly exhale as you start to walk your hands forwards.
  • Maintain length along the front of your body as you come further into the forward bend.
  • To maintain a long spine, bend from the hips, and keep lengthening from the pubic bone to the breast bone.
  • When you feel you are starting to arch your back, don’t lower any further. Instead, lengthen again and see if you can go a little deeper into the pose on an exhalation.
  • When you’ve reached your edge, you will feel a stretch along the back of the legs.
  • Hold this pose for about a minute or longer.
  • To come out, inhale and come up with a straight back, pressing your sit bones down.

    Watch Marlene Henny's pose tutorial

Beginners tips

  • If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees to give you a little more room to maintain a straight spine and maybe move into the forward fold.
  • If you don’t feel the stretch in your hamstrings but you do behind the knees, take a block or a folded blanket and place it under your knees.
  • Keep engaging your thigh muscles to lift your kneecaps and help support your knees.

Benefits

  • Stretches the back and the insides of the legs
  • Opens the hips and back of the body
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs
  • Encourages a sense of relaxation
  • Strengthens your spine‚Äč

Watch out for

  • There is no need to force yourself forwards in this pose. If you find that you are doing so as a result of a pelvis that tilts backwards, place as much height as needed under your sitting bones. Practising this pose with height under your pelvis will allow your body to open up a lot quicker than it would if you were sitting on the ground and trying to force yourself forwards.
  • Ensure you maintain a straight spine. There is always a tendency to round the back in this pose. Height under the pelvis helps to maintain length along your back.
  • Draw your shoulder blades down your back, and together slightly. Relax your shoulders away from your ears to avoid creating unnecessary tension in your upper back and neck.

Variations

  • Explore side-bend variations of this pose. Ground down through your sitting bones, engage your core slightly and grow tall through your spine. From this position, allow your right hand to move down your right leg towards your toes.
  • On an inhalation lift the left arm up to the ceiling. Stay in this first position giving your body time to adjust to the feeling of length on the left side. With an exhalation, take your left arm up and over, alongside your ear, ensuring that you don’t compromise your position by starting to collapse through your chest.
  • Look underneath your arm if it’s comfortable for your neck. Keep length in your side body, and keep your pelvis tilting forwards. If you feel you’re starting to round and sink backwards in the pose, place more height under your sitting bones.
  • To come out of the pose, engage your core, bring awareness to the muscles of your left side body, and come up with an inhalation. Repeat on the other side.

Try in Class

Four poses toward Wide Angle Forward Bend - with Marlene Henny
Level: All levels
Style: Vinyasa Flow
Duration: 20 mins