Prasarita Padottanasana: Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose

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Prasarita padottanasana (pra-sa-REE-tah pah-doh-tahn-AHS-an-uh) is a big stretch for the hamstrings and inner leg line. With many variations available, this pose is accessible for most practitioners. This is also a great pose in lieu of headstand.

Philosophy + Origin

Prasarita padottanasana has found its way into almost every style of yoga. B.K.S. Iyengar taught several variations of this posture, labeling them as A, B, C, and D. The most commonly practiced variation is prasarita padottanasana A. Prasarita padottanasana B is when the hands are on the hips and the head is lifted off the ground, not resting on the mat. Prasarita padottanasana C is the variation where the hands are interlaced and stretched behind the back and over the head as you fold. In the final variation taught by Iyengar, prasarita padottanasana D asks the student to grasp the big toe on each foot.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Place a pillow, bolster, or chair under your head to bring the ground closer to you.
  • Option to place blocks or a chair under your hands.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Begin standing facing the long edge of your mat. Step your feet about four feet apart (it will vary slightly depending on your height) and place your hands on your hips. Look to your feet and check that your middle toes are facing the same direction. 
  2. Lift your kneecaps up to engage your thigh muscles. As you inhale, extend through your chest. As you exhale, begin to hinge forward from your hip creases, keeping the front of your torso long.
  3. Pause when you find your torso parallel with the floor. Press your fingertips firmly into the floor, hands directly below the shoulders. Straighten your arms so that they are parallel to the floor, just like your legs. 
  4. Keep the torso long and start to walk your fingertips back toward your legs so that they are between your feet. Bend your elbows and allow your torso and head to drop into a full forward bend. If accessible, place the crown of your head on the floor between your feet.
  5. Use the palms of your hands to press into the floor. If your body allows, continue to move your hands back, fingers facing forward, until your upper arms (triceps and biceps) are parallel with the mat. Allow the breath to broaden your shoulder blades as you encourage your shoulders to lift away from your ears.
  6. Hold this pose for up to 60 seconds. When you’re ready to release, walk your hands forward so that they are under your shoulders and your torso is once again parallel with the floor. Use an inhale to lift up completely, hands on hips. Return to standing.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

BENEFITS:

  • Strengthens legs and back.
  • Stretches groins, hamstrings, and hips.

SANSKRIT:

  • Prasarita = stretched, expanded
  • Pada = foot
  • Ut = intense
  • Tan = to extend
  • Asana = pose


Ardha Uttanasana: Half Standing Forward Bend

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

An effective stretch for your hamstrings and calves ardha uttanasana (ARE-dah OOT-tan-AHS-anna), is often used during vinyasa sequences to connect the breath as you flow from one posture to the next.

Philosophy + Origin

One of the reasons ardha uttanasana is used so much in vinyasa yoga classes is that it positions the body for chaturanga dandasana. Because it engages the navel and core, it’s a powerful pose for warming up the body, which is why it’s included in warm-up sequences. Despite its sometimes transitory nature, the pose also engages the navel chakra (manipura), which can bring the practitioner increased confidence and willpower.

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