Upavista Konasana is a seated forward bend which, depending upon your hamstring and adductor flexibility, can either be deeply gratifying or deeply frustrating. Sit on height (a bolster or blanket), take modifications, and have patience as needed.
Start in Dandasana, then extend the legs out to the sides as far as they will go while still allowing you to grab the big toes or feet (no more than about 90 or 100 degrees). Check to make sure the thighs are rotated neither too far externally or too far internally. The kneecaps should point straight up as should the toes. If you can’t keep the knees from rolling in, bend the knees here to take some of the pressure off. Keeping the spine straight, extend forward from the hips, keeping the spine straight as you come forward. Once you have found your edge at the hips, you can relax at the waist a bit. For those with really open inner thighs, make sure to maintain some weight in the sit bones as you come forward. You can either keep the hands extended out in front or reach out to grab the feet or big toes. Once you have found a stretch deep in the belly of the hamstring (and inner thighs for most people), stay here and breath in to the pose.
For people with sufficient flexibility, extending the legs out to the sides gets the thighs out of the way of the pelvis, allowing it to (potentially) drop all the way to the floor between them. It also takes some of the pressure off the hamstrings by moving their insertion points out to the side slightly. This can incredibly satisfying if flexibility allows. If, on the other hand, the adductors and hamstrings are tight, you won’t be able to extend the legs out to the sides far enough or tilt forward enough to get either of these benefits and beginners can struggle a bit here. If you find that you can’t bring the pelvis forward enough to prevent strain in the lower back, finding the standing variation of the pose (Prasarita Padottanasana) can help you find the same opening without the same struggle.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!