Prasarita Padottanasana or Wide Legged Forward Bend Pose stretches the back and leg muscles. In Sanskrit, Prasarita means spread out, Pada means leg or foot, Uttana means intense stretch and Asana means a yogic pose. Prasarita Padottanasana is a resting pose with benefits of regular inverted poses. It needs a little practice to feel restive in this pose.
Those with hip, knee or ankle injuries should avoid this pose.
How to do Prasarita Padottanasana?
- Start in the standing position or Tadasana. Place the hands on the hips.
- Spread out the legs wide apart. The feet should be pointing forward parallel to each other. Turn the toes slightly inward if possible.
- Take a deep breath and feel the expansion of the chest and neck region. Feel the straightening out of the torso and neck.
- Now, exhale slowly and bend forward at the hips. Try to keep the torso long and straight.
- Bend further down and place the palms on the floor between the legs, fingers pointing forward.
- Bend slightly forward to shift the weight of the body to the front part of your feet especially the balls of the feet.
- The head should hand freely facing the floor. Bring down the head further if possible, so that the crown of the head rests on the floor between the palms. At this point the body weight is borne by the legs, the palms and slightly by your head.
- Breathe normally and rest in this position for as long as you are comfortable.
- To release the position, inhale and apply pressure on the ground with your palms and push yourself up to the erect position. Bring the legs together again and rest by taking few deep breaths.
- There are many variations of Prasarita Padottanasana. One of the variations is discussed here. In the variation, start with the standing position and stretch out the legs. Join your palms behind and interlace the fingers. Inhale deeply and expand your chest and neck and bend backwards. Now, exhale slowly and fold forward along the hips. Bring your head between the legs. Inhale and lift your hands over your head with palms facing towards the floor. Exhale and bring your head further down with gaze on the floor. Maintain this position for as long as you are comfortable. To release the position, inhale and lift yourself up, unlock the fingers and come to the erect position. Bring the feet together and rest in the standing pose or Tadasana.
Benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana
- Prasarita Padottanasana gives a good stretch to the hamstring muscles. It is an excellent practice for loosening the hamstrings. In the initial stages of practice, keep the legs as wide apart as possible. Later when the hamstrings become more flexible, one can bring the legs closer for further loosening effect.
- It stretches the muscles of the legs, calf and the back.
- The spine gets a good stretch.
- It relaxes the shoulders and relieves stress in the shoulder muscles.
- It can help reduce fat around the belly and waist.
- Prasarita Padottanasana gives a good sense of balance.
- This pose gives some benefits of inverted poses as there is an increased blood flow to the head region and reduces the strain on the heart.
- It increases flexibility of the calf muscles and ankles.
- This pose tones the organs in the abdomen and improves digestion.
- The improved flow of blood to the brain can give relaxation and can improve awareness.
- The variation of the asana mentioned above, gives an improved sense of balance. Also, it puts the entire weight of the body on the legs and pulls the hamstring muscles harder.