Quite often, yoga practice brings us to explore balance. This can mean finding stability on one foot, two hands, or in an elaborate configuration. But many times it’s the balancing of opposites; expansion and contraction, inhale and exhale, activity of the mind and surrender of thoughts. This complex act is where we find the work. This work brings out our patience or provides an opportunity for us to learn it. This is the yoga we can take off the mat and into our lives.
This week’s PowerPose, Upaviṣṭha Koṇāsana or Seated Angle pose, may require patience, it did for me. Try these variations to work mindfully in this pose, as you do invite an air of patience and balance to your practice.
Option 1 – Seated Wide Leg Shift Forward. Take the legs wide with the feet flexed and toes pointing toward the ceiling. Sit up tall and, if needed, elevate the hips on a blanket, soften the knees, and/or bring the feet closer together. Begin by sitting with a long spine and hands resting on the thighs. When you can sit with legs long and feet flexed, shift the heart forward taking the hands to the floor or blocks. If the spine rounds or the sensation is too intense through the backs of the legs, you’ve gone too far. Adjust as needed. Then, take your focus to lifting through the pelvic floor.
Option 2 – Upaviṣṭha Koṇāsana. From a seated straddle, reach the hands to the feet. Find big toe hold or take the hands to the blade edge of the feet. Pull against the feet to lengthen the spine, then soften the heart to the ground. Rest the forehead, or chest on the ground. Use a block or blanket if you need the support. If you are are ready to find a deeper pose, rest the chin on the ground opening through the throat. Keep the legs active as you breathe in this posture.
Option 3 – Balance. From a seated posture, bring the feet to the midline of the body, keeping the knees wide. Shift back, so you are sitting just behind the sits bones. Lift through the pelvic floor and the belly while you keep the shoulders open and broad. The back stays long as you hug the feet closer. Work to find balance and stillness. Play with lengthening one leg and then the other.
Option 4 – Upaviṣṭha Koṇāsana Variation. Maintaining balance, begin to extend the legs, reaching the feet toward the ceiling. A soft bend in the knee will take the intensity out of the hamstrings. Press through the feet as you pull with the hands. Arms can be straight or can begin to bend to draw the legs toward the body. Find an equal effort in the reach of the legs and pull of the feet. Bring your focus to lifting the root and the belly while maintaining full breath.
As we welcome patience to our practice we are able to move from the challenges of physical balance to the more difficult challenges of balancing our energy and intention, to the ultimate challenge of bringing all that we are into balance, our body, mind, and spirit, harnessing all of that harmony to attain samādhi. Whatever balance you are working toward be sure to work where you feel challenge and can grow from the practice. Follow this #PowerPose challenge @suzannewrightyoga on Instagram or at Suzanne Wright Yoga on Facebook. If you post your pictures or about your experience be sure to tag #PowerPose and @suzannewrightyoga.