Practice makes perfect or at the very least helps you improve your asanas. The following is a 15 to 20 minute semi-restorative routine you can do between 1-3 times per week to help you loosen your hamstrings and hips to further improve your upavistha konasana.
1. Seated Prayer
Start in a comfortable cross-legged position, sitting upright. Bring your hands together in front of your heart and close your eyes. Begin to breathe deeply in
and out through your nose. Focus on the areas in your body that you are going to work on.
Take your legs out in front of you in Dandasana (stick pose), with a straight spine, hands pointed forward by both sides of your buttocks, legs stretched out and firm, keeping your spine and legs active. Take 5 deep breaths.
Modification: Bend your knees slightly while maintaining a straight spine.
Raise your arms to the ceiling, and with a straight spine fold forward at the hips, with your hands by your knees, calves or grabbing onto your big toes or the sides of your feet. Stay here and breathe for 1 minute. With the exhalation, allow your muscles to relax and go slightly deeper if possible.
Modification: Bend your knees slightly so that your spine remains straight during the fold and your stomach is touching your thighs.
From a seated position, put your hands approximately six inches behind you with your palms flat on the ground and your fingers pointing forward. Lift your pelvis off the ground with your legs straight and your feet flat on the ground, forming a diagonal line from your ankles through to your shoulder. Take five deep breaths.
Modification: With your arms in the same position, bring your right foot beside your left knee, then bring your left foot parallel to your right. Lift your pelvis off the ground into table pose, forming a rectangle with the back of your body.
5. Pigeon Pose
From a seated position bring your right leg inward to a 90 degree angle, resting your right hip on the ground. Keep your right foot flexed. Swing your left leg behind you. Work towards straightening your back leg and squaring off your hips. Keep your hands in front of you. Fold forward onto your elbows, eventually leaning your torso on your front leg and bringing your forehead to the ground. Stay here and breathe for 1 minute. Breathe into any tight or tense areas you are experiencing. Then do the exact same position on the left side for 1 minute.
Modification: Bend your front leg inward on a 45-90 degree angle. Take your back leg out to the side of your body bending the knee with the inner side of your back leg on the mat. Lean into your hip that’s resting on the floor. Keep your hands in front of you. Fold forward as much as your can and breathe into your hips as well as any other areas you are experiencing tension.
6. Seated Hip Opener
From a seated position with your legs out in front of you, bring your right ankle just above your left knee. Bend your left knee in towards your chest. Place your hands behind you for support. Draw your right knee forward slightly to increase the stretch in your right hip while maintaining a straight spine and keeping your right foot flexed. Take five deep breaths.
Take your right hand through your left leg and interlace your fingers from both hands around your left shin, lengthening through your spine and drawing your left leg into your thigh slightly to increase the stretch in your hip. Breathe into any tense areas. Take ten deep breaths here. Then do the exact same sequence on the left side.
Modification: Bend your outstretched leg enough to get a stretch here. To increase the stretch work on drawing your foot inward towards your buttocks.
7. Baddha Konasana
Bring the soles of your feet together allowing your knees to drop outwards towards the floor. Work towards opening the soles of your feet like a book. Place your hands behind you to lengthen your spine (fold forward if you would like to complete the pose). Place a block between your feet to get a deeper stretch in your groin and inner legs.
Modification: If your knees are far off the ground, place a block, bolster or blanket underneath your buttocks.
8. Inner Hamstring Stretch
Starting on your knees, take your knees outward as far as you can. Fold forward supporting the front of your body with your arms. Draw your feet in towards each other, breathing into any tense areas. Stay here for 10 deep breaths.
Modification: Avoid drawing your feet towards each other. Fold forward onto your hands.
9. Upavistha Konasana
Upavistha Konasana - Follow instructions 1-4 of the Upavistha Konasanapose.
Then before going into the complete pose, lengthen through your spine, turning your upper body towards your right leg. Fold over your right leg. Stay here and breathe for 30 seconds. Come up and do the same over your left leg for 30 seconds.
Follow instructions 5-7 of the Upavistha Konasana pose. Stay here for 1 minute and breathe into any tense areas.
Modification: See Tips for Tightness
10. Lying Down Hand To Foot Pose
Lying on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you, bend your right knee into your chest as much as possible. Take 5 deep breaths. Stretch your right leg up towards the ceiling, interlacing your index and middle finger around your big toe or grab onto your shin. Take 5 deep breaths. Bring your knee into your chest again for another 5 breaths. Place your left hand on your left hip pressing it firmly into the ground. Take your right knee out to the side of your body keeping your hips square and grounded. Take 5 deep breaths. Straighten your right leg out to the side as much as possible while keeping your hips firmly planted on the ground. Take 5 deep breaths. Bring your leg back to centre and bring it back to the ground. Do the same sequence on your left side.
Modification: Keep your outstreched knee bent throughout the sequence.
11. Wide Angle Pose Against Wall
Using a wall, lying on your side, bend your knees and bring your buttocks to the wall. Roll onto your back taking your legs into a 90 degree angle with your upper body. Allow both legs to open along the wall as much as possible. Keep your legs straight and feet flexed. Stay there, breath and relax for 1 minute.
Always complete your practice with savasana, lying on your back, let your feet flop open, arms relaxed by your sides, palms open to the sky. Relax all your joints and muscles. Allow the breath to travel through your body. Take it into any areas where you experienced any tension and allow yourself to relax even further. Stay here for at least 3 minutes. Enjoy this moment. This is your reward.