I've practiced Parsva konasana in the Ashtanga style of Pattabhi Jois for a number of years, enter the posture on the breath, stay for five, exit on the breath and repeat on the other side (ashtanga generates a lot of heat and Parsva konasana comes up in the middle of the standing sequence so we're nicely warmed up for this intense hamstring work).
In the Vinyasa Krama approach to parsva konasana we can see the comprehensive nature of this style of practice. First we enter and exit a simplified, supported, vinyasa/variation of the posture on the breath, then on the third entry we stay for a significant period of time, three to six long slow inhalations and exhalations. Next up come two versions of the posture, an elbow bind and the more classic hands in reverse prayer. As we have seen from the On your feet sequences there are probably other hand/arm variations that we might explore here. Finally we enter the posture again with our palms on the mat but this time raise our trailing leg from the hip in a counter pose, holding for another three to six breaths before returning to the original starting point of trikonasana stithi. There are approximately fifty breaths taken in this one subroutine and it can take anywhere from twelve to twenty minutes depending on how long and slow we make our breath.
This is a pattern that we see in many of the Vinyasa Krama subroutines.
- Enter/exit on the breath
- long stay
- counter posture
- return to starting position (stithy).
I tend to practice a couple of the vinyasas in different postures from different subroutines and sequences, building my practice by covering a wide range of posture types. This morning, re shooting the video for this practice sheet I was reminded of how profound practicing a posture in this way can be.
Entering and exiting on the breath allows us to work a little deeper into the posture each time. Knowing we have several attempts we can be gentle on ourselves, ease into the posture
The long stay in the posture allows us to settle, find the spaces, shift our weight here there, sink into the pose.
The vinyasas allow us to explore, extend, expand upon the 'theme' and yet remain centred
The counter pose and return to the point in which we began gives a sense of completeness, the subroutines generally exists as a whole.
And there's flexibility, depending on the level of our practice or how warmed up we are we might not bend as deeply, do all the vinyasas or stay as long.
parsva konasana offers a deep stretch to the hamstrings and this is one benefit of working slowly into the posture, it's not one to rush unless we have been prepared before hand by other postures or subroutines.
- Protect the hamstrings by pressing the leading foots toes firmly into the mat
- Focus on the trailing hip, make the movement form there. So if your bending over your right leg focus on your left hip, bend from there. but make sure your hips are in line with each other.
- Leading with that trailing hip has the curious sensation of having your backside pulled up into the air as your bent over as if there is a giant balloon hooked into your gluteus maximus
- In the final variation, when you raise your leg, again lift from the hip
- When entering those three times at the beginning of the subroutine I lead with my chin the first time, my nose the second and my forehead the third, this come from a later supine subroutine.
- Engage your mula and uddiyana bandhas, these help protect your hamstrings in paschimottanasana, the seated forward bend but will have the same effect here.
A tweaked or pulled hamstring seems to take forever to heal up completely, for months you'll find yourself mindful of it. You can still practice but it puts a bit of a damper on it, so go easy here. Thats' what a vinyasa karma subroutine is designed to do, to ease you into a posture and vinyasas.
NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloadedHERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.