Extend, lengthen, restore, balance. All in one super pose!
Using a bolster in this forward fold makes it a restorative pose. The benefits of having the head down on a bolster is to calm the mind and balance the body. But don’t get too relaxed. Even while using a bolster, there is a lot of work for the body to do in this pose.
Benefits of this pose are, it stretches the hips and elongates the trunk - from the base of the sit bones through the spine. It lengthens the hamstrings and stretches the groins.
Experiencing this big open stretch, can energize the body. Leading the forward fold with the heart, makes this a bit of a heart opening pose and can bring a renewed sense of peace and balance to the body.
- To come into the pose, sit on the floor and open your legs to a 90-degree angle. Place the bolster vertically between your legs, with the short side of the bolster touching the groins.
- If you cannot sit comfortably on the floor, place a banket under the buttocks to lift and give the pelvis more height and leverage.
- Place the hands on the floor behind the legs and lift the side body to elongate the spine.
- Press the thighs into the floor and keep the kneecaps pointing straight up towards the celling.
- Stretch and lengthen the backs of the legs from the sit bones to the heels and press through the balls of the feet, keeping the toes pointing up towards the ceiling.
- Reach to grab hold of the big toes with your fingers, or with a belt or a strap. You can also do this as a partner pose, as shown in the photo at the top of the page.
- For a more restorative version, simply place your hands on either side of the bolster, as shown in the second photo.
- While keeping an elongated spine, lead with the chest and fold forward over your bolster. Keep the legs pushing into the floor, lengthening the hamstrings, and pressing into the balls of the feet.
- Turn the head to one side or rest the forehead down in the center of the bolster.
- Stay here for 1-2 minutes. Use a second bolster or a blanket on the bolster if you have tight hamstrings and need more height. The bolsters allow you to stay longer and get more benefits from the pose.
- To come out of the pose, lead with the chest up, move the bolster and bring the legs back together.
Upavistha Konasana, or wide angle seated forward bend is a super pose. If it seems like too big of a stretch, practice it, and give it some time. Keep a bolster in your living room. Start little by little and with time, stay longer and longer. Your whole body will thank you.