By Edith Lazenby
I have many favorite poses to be honest for different things but upavistha konasana—wide legged forward fold—always works for me.
There can be a variety of reasons that I will explore, but the bottom line is that it calms me and takes me inside to that peaceful happy place that is yoga, the yoking of body and mind and heart.
I like to do it in a yin fashion with legs comfortably wide and feet relaxed. Then I fold toward the floor and maybe even use a pillow or block for my head for a while before finding the floor. Or maybe I keep my head resting the whole time on whatever is at hand.
The head supported allows me to relax into the pose rather than hanging in mid air or going straight down before easing into it. My goal here is not about the pose, in fact with me it rarely is (okay, I would love to nail crow every time I confess. I have been doing yoga since 1997 and that one is a tough one for me).
I think those of us who do yoga and teach yoga embrace it for how it makes us feel. It is just a theory but there are a million ways to exercise but few give us the deep release yoga offers.
This forward bend is like an immediate svasanana for me. I go in and everything empties out of me. Yes, it is good for many things: arthritis, sciatica, the back if supported by sitting on blankets (easy does it if you have disc issues). The pose opens the hips and stretches the hamstrings.
And I can hold this pose for quite some time. The meditative state of mind finds me as I bend and breathe and embrace the stillness.
When I teach, I often offer this pose up with props, especially in my gentle classes and yin classes. Having the head supported and going forward naturally allows anyone to let go. I imagine even the busiest minds can settle in this pose with time.
And to do this I don’t require a warm up or cool down. There are any number of poses one can add to this before or after, of course. Legs up the wall is a nice sequel to continue the restorative and energizing aspects of the experience. Or pigeon is fun to work into those hips more as well.
Being a Vata-Pitta, grounding is important to me.
Vata is the air/ether dosha in Ayurveda, meaning my mind works too fast for any one’s well being—especially mine—and Pitta is fire and water meaning I can be a bit reactive, though I have calmed a lot over the years. And resting my head in a seated forward fold, head below heart, soothes me on all levels.
I suggest when you try this, hold it for 5 to 10 minutes and you too might fall in love with this pose.
Sometimes I just rest. Sometimes the release is tears. Sometimes I play my favorite music. Sometimes it is the quiet I want.
But no matter how I do it the yoga finds me here even when I can’t find it.
Editor: Dana Gornall