Sunday, September 14, 2014

Yoga for Sleep: Supported Upavistha Konasana

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Although many Yoga students and teachers may feel that summer is the high season for a variety of outdoor activities, frequently the fall season is just as busy, if not more so. This seems to be especially true in temperate areas, such as the Northeastern United States, where there are four seasons. In areas such as New York and New England, many of us are aware that all too quickly the warmth of the summer will begin to fade as we approach the Autumn Equinox later this month.

As the nights become cooler and the heat and humidity of the summer weather begins to dissipate with each successive day, many Yoga practitioners find that they are racing to fit in all of the outdoor activities they were planning on doing before the weather turns crisp and cool. If this is the case for you, you may find that your schedule is over booked as the fall season gets into full swing. This may be particularly true if you are starting a new school year, commencing a professional training program or are working on a new project at work. 

As the days begin to shorten, you may also find yourself rushing to fit in that final week at the beach or climb a mountain peak that has been calling to you all summer. With all of this activity, many Yoga students find that their level of anxiety and sense of being rushed is much higher. You may also find that you are pressed at the end of the day to check your email or return text messages late into the evening that you were unable to get to earlier in the day. All of these circumstances can lead to problems falling and staying asleep.

* Upavishta Konasana or Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold

Upavishta Konasana, or Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold, is a wonderfully relaxing Yoga pose that helps to quell an overactive mind and release deep-seated tension in the groins, back of the legs and lower back area. This Yoga pose also relieves arthritis, detoxifies the kidneys, eases sciatica, stimulates the abdominal organs, and calms the mind. Practicing Upavishta Konasana in a supported fashion is even more relaxing and therapeutically effective if you are having difficulty sleeping. To practice Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold in a supported fashion you will need a Yoga bolster or a rolled blanket. 

Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold is generally practiced toward the end of a Yoga class or session. This posture can also be practiced as a “stand alone” Yoga pose as part of a warm up or cool down session after a workout if you are cross training. It is also a nice posture to practice just prior to going to bed. When you are ready to practice Upavishta Konasana, come to a wide-angle seated position on your Yoga mat. If you are practicing this posture in a supported fashion, place a Yoga bolster or rolled blanket in between your legs and perpendicular to your torso. If you are using a rolled blanket, please roll the blanket up lengthwise so that is long enough to support your entire torso. 

With an inhale raise your arms over head. With your next exhale, extend your arms forward, and then place your palms down on your Yoga mat between your legs. If you are using a Yoga bolster or a rolled blanket, extend your arms forward and place your palms on either side of the prop as you drape your torso over the prop. If your hamstrings are tight today, you may bend your knees slightly or use a small rolled towel or blanket underneath each knee to support your legs and rest more comfortably in the posture. Hold Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold for three to five minutes. 

While you are in Upavishta Konasana, remember to breath deeply by expanding your lungs fully on the inhale and releasing your breath completely on the exhale. I often find that when I am stressed, anxious or over scheduled that I tend to breath in a shallow manner. By remembering to expand my lungs completely on the inhale and release my breath completely on the exhale, my mind quiets down naturally. When you have completed your practice of Upavishta Konasana, remove any props that you are using and come back to Easy Seat on your Yoga mat before proceeding on to the next pose in your Yoga practice or resting in Shavasana. 

© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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parvezbdjsr said...

Practicing Upavishta Konasana in a supported fashion is therapeutically effective for better sleeping. Nice sharing!

Mary Wilson said...

Upavishta Konasana is a wonderfully relaxing Yoga pose that helps to quell an overactive mind
and release deep-seated tension. Thanks for sharing this good article!