Pose of the Week: Upavista Konasana

Wednesday, 24 July 2019 15:58
This week’s pose is Upavista Konasana.
Upavista means seated and Kona means angle. Asana means posture or pose. So it’s seated angle pose.
BKS Iyengar in Light on Yoga (1966)
Upavista Konasana is a seated forward bend.  Forward bends are one category of asana. The other main categories of asana are: standing, twists, backbends and inversions.  When you first learn Iyengar Yoga we focus a lot on standing asanas. This is where you begin with the outer sheath of your body. You learn to dissect your own body. You learn where your body parts are and how to manipulate them. BKS Iyengar also says “standing asanas break the tamasic, inert, lazy nature of the body and bring activeness in the practitioner.” (Basic Guidelines for Teachers of Yoga, p.31) The standing asanas create a foundation for all the other asanas, as they include all the spinal movements such as horizontal, vertical and lateral elongation as well as extension, along with sideways, forward, backward extensions and twisting.
Then the next category is forward bends. Geeta Iyengar says that they work with the outer muscles of the body. “You start with the outer back muscles rather than directly with the inner spinal muscles.” You have to get familiar with your back. This approach, she says, is like planting a seed. Firstly you have to loosen the soil. “You can’t put a seed into the hard soil; it won’t go in and it won’t sprout. So first you make the soil soft from the outside. Then if you want to put the seed even deeper in, you have to dig still more so that a further layer of the soil is loosened… So now the seed of yoga has to be sown in a person. You can’t start digging straight away in. The person will not be able to take it. So you say all right, just a little bit of digging of the soil and you sow the seed of the asana there.  So forward bends are better where you extend the external muscles of the back. You extend the outer muscles, at the same time working on your abdominal region.”  (From a question and answer session at RIMYI, July 17, 1994. Transcribed from video tape by Rose Richardson, edited by Geeta Iyengar and Francie Ricks)
Through forward bends, such as Upavista Konasana, you learn about your back. You have to observe your back as if you had eyes in your back body. As yoga practitioners it is our job to see. To see how we really are, to look at ourselves with a spotlight. First we have to feel to enable to observe and then learn to see.
It's not too late to join a course, book your place in the beginner's course: https://yogapath.punchpass.com/passes/48875,
See you on the mat :)


Nicole Schroeter
Certified Iyengar Teacher
Interested in becoming a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher? Undertake IYA accredited training at Yoga Path with Nicole


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