So I was just browsing Gregor Maehle's Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy book looking for some hints and tips for upavista konasana as in a matter of just three weeks have gone from almost having my chest to the floor to not being able to bend past the 80 degree mark. I have a really tight right hamstring. I cannot put the tightness or discomfort down to any one single incident but all I can think of is that it must be a repetitive strain injury from doing forward bends incorrectly.
Forward bends have never been easy for me, I guess from years of having an appalling posture. But I've very slowly gotten better at them and deeper into them, utilising tips from Ray Long from his Daily Bandha (excellent blog and newsletter to which you can sign up to). Anyway, so Maehle gives a practical tip for foot positioning to protect the hamstrings in forward bends. There are 3 positions:
1) Dorsi flexion - top of the foot is drawn towards the shin. To be used in the else intense types of forward bends where the hamstrings do not bear the weight of the torso, such as dandasana and marichiyasana c.
2) Plantar flexion - pointing the toes away from the shin, gives maximum protection of the hamstring and should be used in the most intense forward bends such as hanumanasana and tittibhasana.
3) Somewhere between the previous two positions, extending through the heel and through the bases of all the toes, this should be utilised in paschimottasana, ardha baddha padmapaschi, tiriang mukha ekapada, janusirsasana and upavista konasana. He even says "and very importantly in upavista konasana".
So maybe that's where I am going wrong?!! Maybe I'm pulling the top of my foot too far back toward my shin in all these postures!! I will utilise these new positions from now on and update you about the progress of the healing hammy.