Here is my latest article for the Stanly News and Press:
Wide Leg Seated Forward Fold, or Upavistha Konasana, prevented me from injury in a fall not too long ago. I was wearing slick bottomed boots and came running in out of the rain one day and both of my legs slid out from under me in opposite directions. I was a little shocked (and embarrassed), but I was not hurt because this pose and other similar ones have made my groins and hamstrings loose and my back strong.
This is a pose I have always liked, but as a teacher I realize that not everyone feels good in this posture at first and it can take some time to loosen up in these areas that tend to get neglected by our everyday, pedestrian movements. As in all poses, there are tricks with props that can make it more accessible for every body. Sitting on the edge of a folded blanket lifts the hips making it easier to sit this way and placing a bolster between the legs to drape the body over makes it easier to fold. You can also place blocks under your hands, forearms or head to make a connection for stability. Make this pose your own knowing that every body is different and we make modifications to get maximum benefits from each pose. Always remember that if you cannot keep your breath long and even or calm thoughts in your head, then you need to modify in some way.
To practice Upavistha Konasana, begin in Staff Pose, or Dandasana, seated with the body tall and the legs extended straight out together in front of you. Open your legs apart from each other as widely as possible with the knees and toes facing the ceiling by keeping outward rotation in the hips. As you inhale, lengthen your spine and as you exhale begin to slowly walk your fingers forward in front of you. Keeping your back long, you can keep the arms in front of you or you can take your peace fingers and hook you big toes to pull yourself down.
If you have any low back issues, be sure to sit on a blanket and take it very slow. This asana is good for prevention and treatment of sciatica and it can have a calming effect on the nervous system. When you get to your deepest expression of the pose, stay there and take five to ten long, slow breaths in and out of the nose before you slowly come out of it. The more you practice, the more open you will become, inside and out.