In Upavistha Konasana (seated wide leg forward bend) the legs are open about 90 degrees with the knees pointing straight up.
You can do this pose with knees bent if your hamstrings are tight. However, whether knees are bent or straight, work at keeping them pointing up as you roll your pelvis forwards.
Prior to bending forwards in upavistha konasana, you might find it helpful to warm up your hips by shaking or rolling your legs from side to side. I like to do this while sitting upright with legs apart.
Use Your Arms for Support
You can use your arms to support your body when you are trying to get your hamstrings to relax. Imagine that you are doing a pushup, using your arms to support the weight of your upper body. So that you stretch your hamstrings, gradually lower your body, as if lowering your body into a pushup. So that you can keep your hamstrings relaxed, do this slowly.
Create Space in Your Hip Joint
You can also try creating space within your hip joint to help your hamstrings relax. Create space by reaching your knees away from your pelvis.
Widen and Lift your Sitting Bones
To help your pelvis tilt forwards, experiment with widening and lifting your sitting bones.
In upavistha konasana, you can focus on stretching your hamstrings by opening your legs to about 90 degrees. If you want to work on your inner thigh flexibility then work to widen your legs further.
90 degrees is important especially when trying to lift your hands off of the floor. It gives your body leverage when you press your legs down.
To that end sit with your legs open a maximum of 90 degrees from each other. Sit with your knees pointing straight up. If you need to, bend them or sit on books or blocks or even a chair.
Reach your knees away from your hip sockets.
Do this whether your knees are straight or bent.
Keep your hips open, place your hands on the floor in front of you and tilt your pelvis forwards. Use your arms to support or brace the weight of your upper body so that your hamstrings can relax.
Once you have tilted past about 45 degrees you can pull your hands in close to your body and then slowly relax your arms and take your hands off of the floor.
You may notice an increase in hamstring stretch as you lift your arms off of the floor.
If you are even more sensitive, you'll notice your hamstrings stretching more even when you relax your arms prior to lifting them. This is because as you lift your arms, your body will no longer be supported. The unsupported weight of your body will then tilt your pelvis forwards, assuming your keep your upper body stiff.
To add more weight to upavistha konasana, slowly reach your arms forwards but keep your hands off of the floor.
You may be able to get your chin on to the floor. If that is the case, keep your arms lifted and try to reach your chine and chest forwards, away from your pelvis.
Alternatively see how close you can get to the floor without touching your chin or arms (or forehead) to the floor.
Even though your chin is on the floor you can imagine lifting your head so that the weight of your head helps to pull your ribcage closer towards the floor.
If you put your hands on the floor you can imagine lifting your arms so that they still help to sink your ribcage down.
As your pelvis tilts forwards, concentrate on keeping your hips open. Also keep your knees pointing upwards.
When you are ready, (or have had enough) place your hands on the floor. Keep reaching your arms forwards but also focus on letting your upper body sink downwards.
To come out of upavista konasana, sit up slowly. To make sitting up more of a challenge try sitting up while keeping your arms reaching past your head.
I've included a more detailed step-by-step guide to lifting the arms in wide leg forward bend.
Inspired by Thomas Myers Anatomy Trains, sequenced muscle activation provides a framework for anchoring muscle trains for maximum effect with minimum effort.
I get pain in my left hip in standing forward bends and even squats. Here are some of the exercises that I've used to make my hip feel better.
I've added part 2 to the description of this routine. Parts 3 and 4 to come (the videos are already on youtube.
This routine, with accompanying videos, includes knee strengthening exercises as well as exercises for basic strengthening, improving stability and balance. It also helps you to improve body awareness.
My latest video, some tips for getting comfortable in the deep squat. And suggestions for shifting weight to one leg while in a deep squat.
The seated get up is a way of getting into the one legged squat from a seated position. Even if you aren't interested in one leg squats this video does include tips on stabilizing the knees (at about the 5 minute mark.) Usual muscle activations for knee stability might include the quads, the hamstrings or any of the glutes. This looks at another set of muscles all together. If you like the video or find it helpful, please do share it! Thanks!
Some tips for learning how to do deep squats (without weight). The first tip is on how to stay balanced while squatting.
How do you learn the body weight safely? How do you work towards this pose even if you aren't sure if you are capable of doing it.
Basic yoga poses: standing, sitting, arm balances, binds, twists, inversions, back bending, front bends.
Scapular stabilization becomes a little bit harder when working agains the weight of the body. It can be easier to learn if you gradually increase the amount of body weight the scapular stabilizer muscles are working againsts..
Some hip flexor strengthening exercises.
These yoga poses can be used as arm strengthening exercises.
Turn yoga poses into leg strengthening exercises using floor pressing actions, leverage and friction.
One way of finding and fixing hip problems is to do standing hip strengthening exercises while balancing on one leg.
Knee anatomy for yoga teachers looks at the bones and muscles that comprise the back of the knee in simple terms.
Working towards a kneeling quadriceps stretch you first need to be able to kneel. If you have difficulty kneeling, you may find it helps to activate your quadriceps.
Some exercises and yoga poses for working towards a lying quadriceps stretch one leg at a time.
When doing quadriceps stretching it may help to activate and then relax your quadriceps in these standing, lunging, pigeon and supine yoga pose variations.
What are the benefits of the Dance of Shiva? Arm strength and balance, learning to learn and improving creativity.
This yoga routine video is designed to help you strengthen your arms and legs via the use of friction and pressure. It also teaches you how to become more aware of your body.