Yoga 2.0 – Try This Dynamic Wide-Legged Seated Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana)
To Target Your Adductors and Hamstrings
Article At A Glance
You may find that practicing these dynamic versions of the Wide-Legged Seated Forward Bend Pose (Upavista Konasana) becomes your new favorite variation for stretching your adductors and hamstrings. Grab your props and enjoy the included practice video.
The adductors (the muscles running along the inner thighs) don’t often get a lot of stretching love and attention in our everyday lives. In yoga, we can strengthen and stretch these muscles through various postures like Upavistha Konasana.
Also known as a Wide-Legged Seated Forward Fold Pose, Upavistha Konasana is a perfect pose to stretch the adductors. Because their primary function is to adduct the legs (draw them into/across the midline), opening the legs out wide will help to lengthen these tissues.
We often work the hamstrings muscles in yoga practice. Forward folding postures, so ubiquitous in yoga, stretch these extensor muscles in the backs of the thighs. But what’s not often known is that the hamstrings are a whole group of muscles and in order to target different tissues of the different muscle bellies, we need to mix up our forward folding practice to stretch different areas of the hamstrings.
The most commonly practiced hamstring stretches in yoga are poses like Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) and Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana). These postures are great for targeting the biceps femoris hamstring muscle.
But in order to effectively target the semimembranosus and the semitendinosus, it is better to abduct the legs (open them out wide) to stretch these muscles of the hamstrings. So Upavistha Konasana is a perfect posture to reach these less-targeted hamstrings as well.
Forward folds can easily be practiced as passive poses because gravity is helping to passively draw your torso into a forward bend. But it can be really helpful to practice dynamic versions of these same postures as well, both to activate the musculature as it’s stretching and to activate the surrounding tissues to help support the shape.
Try This Pose Variation to Lengthen Your Adductors and Hamstrings
You will need a stack of blankets and a chair for this variation.
How To Practice Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Upavista Konasana) With a Chair
- Place a chair at one end of your mat with the back of the chair facing the center of the mat.
- Begin by sitting on a stack of folded blankets facing the back of the chair. This elevation in your hips will allow your pelvis to tip forward into an anterior tilt so that you can more easily fold your torso forward, establish a neutral lumbar curve, and more effectively lengthen your hamstrings.
- Open your legs out wide into a V-shape framing out the chair in front of you. Slide your legs apart from each other as wide as it feels appropriate for your body.
- Elongate your spine. Sit toward the edge of your blankets and take your fingertips behind you. Root your hands down into the blanket stack to lift and lengthen your back body toward the sky. Feel how this action gently tips your pelvic bowl toward the top of your mat.
- Maintain this anterior tilt of your pelvis as you place your arms forward in front of you and onto the top edge of the chair.
- Hinge from your hips and fold your torso forward to rest your forehead onto the very top edge of the back of the chair.
- Refresh the length in your spine. Root your sit bones into the floor and lengthen the crown of your head away from them—Check-in with the curvature in your lower back. Strive to maintain neutrality there, allowing your lower spine to curve in toward your body slightly.
- Activate your feet by grounding your heels on the floor and flexing your ankles. Press the balls of your feet forward and spread your toes apart from each other. Without movement, energetically draw your sitting bones and your heels toward each other. Feel how this subtly activates your hamstrings within the stretch.
- Either stay as you are or lift up off the chair slightly. Spin the chair around so that the seat faces toward you. Then, release your arms and your forehead onto the seat of the chair as you continue to elongate your spine and activate your legs.
- As you hold here, breathing deeply, for some time, your muscles and fascia will start to become more elastic, so you may wish to continue to increase the range of your fold if it feels appropriate for you. You can lower to another part of the chair or even remove the chair completely from underneath you. You may also wish to widen your legs farther apart from each other if that feels appropriate as well.
- Wherever you choose to be, stay and hold for a few long, deep breaths, and then, when you’re ready, activate your core and slowly lift your torso to bring your spine back up to neutral. Hold behind your knees with your hands and use your arms to assist your legs as you slowly bend your knees and draw your legs back in toward your midline.
Practice Video: Activate Your Upavistha Konasana for Targeted Release
This certainly isn’t the only way to effectively practice Upavistha Konasana or to lengthen your hamstrings and adductors, but it is a really effective way to reach these less-targeted muscles.
Give this variation a try and stop at any point along the way that feels appropriate for you. Observe how it feels in your body and how it affects your adductors and hamstrings.
You may find that practicing this dynamic version of Wide-Legged Seated Forward Bend Pose becomes your new favorite variation. The calming, soothing aspect of forward bends is a wonderful bonus in this pose.