From a physical perspective, goddess is basically a wide-legged squat. Energetically, I think about goddess being related to downward facing dog in that it is a pose radiating energy in multiple directions at once.
Utkata Konasana / Goddess Pose
Check here and here for explanations. Be mindful of your knees in this pose. Try not to let them come forward past your toes, as that can put undue pressure on them, rendering them susceptible to injury. And, "I busted up my knee trying this awesome yoga pose I saw on the vaginapagina LJ community," is not exactly the kind of press we are looking for.
- Begin in mountain pose. Find a wide stance with your feet something like 3-4 feet apart (more or less depending on things like leg length, personal hip socket anatomy, etc.).
- Turn your toes out and your heels in as much as is comfortable for you. The more your toes are turned out, the more opening you'll get along your inner thighs and groins, but don't compromise your base of support (your feet and ankles) to get there.
- Exhale and bend your knees. If you can bring your thighs parallel to the ground, that's awesome and I am properly awed. If not, squatting as deeply as you can is what's going to make this pose work for you.
- Check that your pelvis is in a neutral to slightly tucked alignment. You may have your sit bones pointing directly down, or you may tuck your pelvis so that your tailbone is what's pointing down. The important thing is that your pelvis is in a position that allows your spine to be long.
- Engage your abdominal muscles to lift through your spine. Your torso will be coming back toward vertical.
- Take a minute to double check: What is happening with your knees? If they're extending way past your toes or if you're feeling knee pain for any other reason, find a way to fit the pose to you. Looking ZOMG Just Like The Picture is not worth a trip to the ER.
- Lift your arms out to your sides, opening through your heart and bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle, palms facing forward. Slide your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead to keep your neck relaxed.
- To come out of the pose, straighten your legs and step or scoot your feet together.
See it here:
Energetically, there are 2 things going on here: down and out, and up and out.
The lower half of the body is moving down and out: feet down and out, thighs down and out, pelvis down and out. Okay, so the pelvis isn't literally moving out, but the wide thigh angle is providing for some pelvic floor stretching and lengthening. So goddess opens the pelvic floor muscles while it strengthens the gluteal muscles.
To complement that, the upper portion of the body is moving up and out: spine up, heart broadening out, arms up and out. In line with that, I often find myself spreading my fingers wide in goddess. Physically, it probably does not add a whole lot to the pose, but it feels right when I am doing it.
Well, it feels right now. I'll admit, it's taken me years to be stable in goddess. I think I was concerned about making my feet ZOMG Just Like The Picture and so would up falling back on my butt a lot.
If you're having trouble holding goddess, whether it's a balancing issue or a strength issue, you can try bringing your arms forward to rest on a chair or a wall. You can also rest your hands on your hips or thighs while figuring out the leg positioning, incorporating the raised arm position when it works for you.
As far as fun variations, there's twisting goddess with a side angle reach. You can also try the side angle without the twist, with or without a chair for support:
(If your intention is strengthening your legs, hips, or glutes, I'd recommend pressing your feet strongly into the floor. This way, your feet are still supporting some of your body weight. So while the chair is there as a support in the pose, it's still a standing pose as much as possible.)
Another flowing option is to move between a wide-legged mountain pose and goddess:
I'd also love to show you a vinyasa going from goddess into a forward fold. Alas, I cannot find video of it. :(
Next time: Squat-tastic video-palooza! (Or, all the nifty squat videos that fit somewhere between chair and goddess and so will not be getting their own posts.)