Prasārita Pādottānāsana (Wide-legged forward bend)
- Stand straight with your feet together, in tāḍāsana
- Step your right foot 4 feet back
- Bring the feet parallel to each other
- Place your hands on your waist
- Inhale and extend your torso
- Exhale and bend forward and down
- Place your hands on the ground
- Bring the top of the head toward the ground
- Stay for 10 breaths
- To come out, hold your waist, inhale and slowly come up
Asana in Depth
Prasārita Pādottānāsana, also known as wide-legged forward bend, gives an extension to the torso and a great stretch to the hamstrings.
Start by standing straight with the feet together, in tāḍāsana. Then step your right foot back about 4 feet. The distance depends on how tall you are, it may be anywhere between 4 to 5 feet. Turn the body to the side and keep the feet parallel to each other. Turn your big toes slightly inward, the heels slightly outward. Place your hands on your waist, and as you inhale extend your torso. Exhale and slowly starting bending forward and down, placing the hands on the floor and keeping the arms straight. Extend your spine as you look forward and up. Bring the weight slightly forward toward the balls of the feet, without placing any pressure on the toes. This aligns the hips and the ankles. Press firmly into the outer edges of the feet, lift the kneecaps up and engage the thighs. Rotate the thighs slightly inward.
The second stage of this pose is to bring the head down and let the top of the head reach toward the floor. Bend the elbows as you slowly lower the torso down, keeping it extended, and if possible let the top of the headrest on the floor. Spread your fingers wide apart and engage your hands in the pose by pressing down into the mat. If the top of the head doesn’t reach the floor, you can place a block or a bolster under it. Stay in the pose for ten deep breaths. To come out, place your hands on your waist, inhale and slowly lift up with a lengthened spine.
As a variation to this posture, you can bring hands folded together behind the back, in Anjali mudra. This opens the chest and draws the shoulder blade together. Another variation is to grab hold of the ankles, the outside of the feet, or the big toes as you come into the second stage of the pose. This makes it a more active pose and gives a deeper stretch to the hamstrings.
One of the benefits of this posture is that it stretches the legs. In particular the hamstrings, thigh adductors and calves. It opens the hips and stretches the groins. It also strengthens the thighs, the knees and the ankles, as both legs are fully engaged during the pose. It elongates the spine and gives a stretch to the back. This posture is said to be therapeutic and has similar benefits as the headstand. It brings fresh oxygen to the brain without the heart having to work harder for it. It is rejuvenating and can relief headaches.
The contraindications for this pose are back injuries. If you have a back injury then you can consider not going down fully into the second phase and use a support such as a block to help you stay in the pose.
- Strengthens the thighs, knees and ankles
- Stretches the hamstrings and calves
- Reliefs headaches
- Back injuries
- Stretches thigh adductor
- Stretches hamstrings
- Tones the quadriceps femoris