This pose is said to invoke the powerful energy of the Hindu goddess, Tara. The name derives from the Sanskrit root syllable that means “protection,” thereby designating Goddess Tara as being “one who protects.”
Physically, Utkatana Konasana is an accessible pose that offers tremendous health benefits, especially for women. The obvious hip-opening effects of this wide-legged squat can help to prepare women for childbirth by creating room in the pelvis, and the ancients believed you could affect fertility by stimulating the urogenital systems and increasing blood flow to this area. I have yet to see the science behind this one, mind you. But the postural benefits don’t stop there, which is why men, too, should pay homage to this manifestation of feminine energy. Holding the posture for a longer time, for example, tests lower body endurance and core strength by supporting the lower back—two serious health perks for any student!
Getting Into the Pose
1. Turn to face the long edge of your mat, with your feet about 3 feet apart.
2. Create a 45-degree angle with your feet (depending on hip flexibility, this may be closer to 30 degrees), with your toes turned out wider than the heels.
3. As you exhale, bend the knees, moving towards bringing the thighs parallel to the floor.
4. Reach out your arms at shoulder height, palms facing upwards, and bend the elbows to 90 degrees. Join your thumbs and index fingers to create Gyana Mudra. This hand gesture symbolizes concentration, creativity, and knowledge.
Although Gyana Mudra is the classical expression of the pose, for a more challenging option, raise your arms overhead. For an easier variation, bring your hands together in Prayer Position at your heart centre (Anjali Mudra) or place them on your hips. To modify the pose, rest your hands on your upper thighs, putting as much weight into your hands as needed.
Intensify the leg work inherent in Goddess Pose by shifting your body weight from one foot to the other and back again. Press into the ball of the left foot, lifting the heel, and then do the same on the right side. For an even greater challenge, lift the heels of both feet at the same time and hold.
Note: The knees often tend to soften inwards in this pose. Focus on keeping your knees aligned over your ankles by lifting the inner arches of your feet. If that’s not possible, try taking a shorter stance.