Upavista Konasana (Seated Angle) focuses on opening our adductors. The adductors help us to connect with the center of our bodies, our core. By engaging the adductors, it becomes more accessible to engage the pelvic floor muscles that contribute to pelvis and Sacroiliac stability. By learning to relax and open the adductors we can begin to relax our core.
Upavista Konasana differs from other adductor opening postures in many ways. In the pose the hips are externally rotated, abducted and flexed. The stretch is focused on all the adductors because of this external rotation and abduction of the hips. When you bend forward in this posture the stretch moves into the Adductor Magnus. Because the knees are straight, it includes a stretch of the Gracilis, something you do not get with a similar pose, Baddha Konasana. In another similar pose, Prasarita Padottanasana the hips are internally rotated and abducted, which decreases the stretch because you are not stretching in all planes of motion and because the feet are on the ground some people will be limited by the calf muscles.
There are five adductor muscles: Adductor Brevis, Adductor Longus, Adductor Magnus, Pectineus and Gracilis. The adductor muscles play an important role in the alignment of the pelvis and the knee. These muscles run from the pubic bone to the inner femur and in the case of the Gracilis to the tibia. Tightness of the adductors may contribute to adduction and internal rotation of the thighs causing an increased angle in the alignment of the hip to knee to foot. Weakness of the adductors may contribute to altered mechanics of the patella in relation to the femur. It is important to note here that muscles can be tight and weak. A common dysfunction is to have increased internal rotation and adduction of the knee with lateral patellar tracking (a result partially of weak and tight adductor muscles). Dysfunction of the adductors is a common source of hip pain, knee pain and low back pain.
To move into this posture, start with the legs out in abduction with a neutral to slight anterior pelvic tilt. Keep the normal spinal curves. The width of the legs will depend on being able to maintain this neutral pelvic and spinal position. Using a blanket to sit on may help with this pelvic alignment. Lengthen the spine by engaging the pelvic floor and transverse abdominals and then begin to fold forward at the hip joint. Engaging the hip external rotators (i.e. Piriformis) andQuadriceps will help to keep the position of the legs and will help relax the Hamstrings and Adductors. If you do not reach the ground you can use a bolster under your torso, or keeping your hands on the ground pull yourself forward with a natural spinal position.