Prasarita Padottanasana: Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose

Prosarita-AshleighSergeant

Prasarita padottanasana (pra-sa-REE-tah pah-doh-tahn-AHS-an-uh) is accessible for most students with the right modifications in place. Not only is it beneficial for the health of the physical body, but prasarita padottanasana is also great for mental and emotional health, too. As an inversion, this pose can help boost your mood and calm your mind, making it a great pose for everyday practices.

Philosophy + Origin

A traditional Iyengar posture, prasarita padottanasana has found its way into almost every style of yoga and classes across the country. A wonderful way to open the body and help make more forward bends accessible, B.K.S. Iyengar taught several variations of this posture, labeling them as A, B, C, and D. The most commonly practiced variation (and the one described here) is prasarita padottanasana A. Prasarita padottanasana B is when your hands are on your 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 the head to bring the ground closer to you.
  • Option to place blocks or a chair under the 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, making sure that you are keeping the front of your torso long. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Hold this pose for up to 60 seconds. When you’re ready to release, walk the 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:

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Strengthens legs and back.
  • Stretches groins, hamstrings, and hips.
  • Can relieve headaches and mild back pain.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Promotes safety and security.
  • Energetically grounding.
  • Calms the mind.

SANSKRIT:

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