At full stretch
Now we can stretch our legs—literally! Kamla Venkat shows us how to practise Upavistha Konasana to benefit not only our legs but also our body, mind, and soul.
‘Upavistha Konasana’ originates from Sanskrit, where ‘Upavistha’ means sitting, ‘Kona’ means angled, and ‘asana’ means posture. Upavistha Konasana is a posture which appears to be simple but provides a lot of health benefits for your body, mind, and soul.
1. Sit upright with your legs stretched at 90 degrees. With your palms on the floor, bring your pelvic muscles forward and extend your legs for another 10 to 20 degrees.
2. By this time, you should be feeling a slight curve in your back. Keep extending the legs further while breathing in slowly. The toes should be stretched out and curving inwards towards you.
3. Slow down and take deep breaths after every stretch. Remember, the process is what is most important. Do not try to achieve the result in a hurry.
4. Continue stretching the legs until your back feels comfortable and straight. Inhale deeply and stay in the position for a maximum of one minute before repositioning.
5. Take care to stretch the legs according to your comfort level only. The stretching will gradually become easier as you practise this pose regularly.
Upavistha Konasana is a difficult forward bend for many beginners. If you have trouble bending even a little bit forward, it’s acceptable to bend your knees slightly. You may even support your knees on thinly rolled blankets but remember, as you move into the forward bend, it’s important to keep the knee caps pointing towards the ceiling.
• Upavistha Konasana has excellent benefits for the adductor muscles of the groin, as they get stretched.
• The legs, especially the hamstring muscles, and the lower back are strengthened.
• The bending and breathing intervals stimulate core muscles, toning the belly and improving the digestion process.
• This asana also helps in healing arthritis and sciatica.
• The rhythmic breathing involved in Upavistha Konasana leads to increased blood flow to the brain. Consequently, you experience a heightened sense of well-being in the mind, body, and soul through relaxation.
Precautions and contraindications
The posture should be done six hours after taking a meal. Ensure to stay hydrated in between to ease digestion. The meal will also give you enough energy to carry out the pose. However, your bowels should remain empty during practice. The best time to carry out the pose is early morning, immediately after waking up, or six hours after a meal in the evening, on an empty stomach, after warm-up exercises.
If you’re pregnant, have a tear in the hamstring, or an injured back, do not practise this asana to avoid further damage and injuries. However, in case of a lower back injury, you may try sitting up high on a folded blanket and keeping your torso relatively upright.
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