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Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-legged standing forward bend)

prasarita-padottanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana
(Wide-legged standing forward bend)

Prasarita-Padottanasana (Wide-legged standing forward bend) (प्रसारित पादोत्तानासन) –

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is a variation of the more commonly practiced Uttanasana (standing forward bending pose). In most of the classes that I teach, we practice the Uttanasana as a part of the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) sequence. The Prasarita-Padottanasana can be practiced either as a part of the Surya Namaskar sequence (from Warrior 2) or as an independent pose as one of the standing poses. It is a nice pose for stretching the legs, hips, inner thighs and the spine.

Step-by-step

Enjoy practicing with the video demonstration!

Here are the audio instructions –

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prasarita-padottanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana – fingertips

  1. Come to a standing position on the mat. Spread the legs wide apart (about four feet) with your body facing the side edge of the mat.
  2. Stretch your arms horizontal, in line with your shoulders. Adjust the position of the feet so the feet are directly under your outstretched hands. Bring your arms back along side the body.
  3. As you inhale, try to elongate your torso by lifting the neck and the trunk upward. While exhaling, slowly begin to bend forward, bringing your fingertips to touch the mat in line with your feet.
  4. In an effort to keep the spine elongated, try to pull the neck down toward the floor while gently pulling the tail bone upward. Make any adjustment to the distance between the feet so you can optimize the experience of this stretch.
  5. If you are flexible enough and comfortable, you may try to place the crown of your head on the mat.
  6. prasarita-padottanasana
    Prasarita Padottanasana with block

  7. If your hands don’t reach the floor, place a pair of blocks on the mat under the shoulders, between the feet, and place your hands on the blocks
  8. In the final position try to maintain the legs and the arms in a vertical position (perpendicular to the floor)
  9. Continue to breathe your normal breaths and stay in the final pose for about 5-7 breaths.
  10. To come out of the pose, lift the hands up and place them on your waist. With an inhalation, slowly begin to come back up keeping spine elongated. Relax for a few breaths with your feet close to each other.

prasarita-padottanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana – hands behind

Variations

A few simple variations to the above pose can enhance the experience of the stretch in different parts of the body

Variation 1: If you are more flexible, you may place your palms flat on the mat in line with your feet. You can go deeper into the pose by placing the forearms flat on the ground.

Variation 2: In another variation, begin to walk both the hands toward your right foot. Try to bring both the hands on the outside of the foot. If the hands don’t reach the floor, keep them on the outside of the right leg. Alternately, place a block on the outside of the foot and place the hands on the block. Now, try to drop the chest slowly closer to or on top of the right thigh. Stay in the final position for about 5 breaths. Then slowly walk your hands to the left side and repeat the same movements on this side. Finally come back to the center. Come out of the pose as mentioned earlier.

prasarita-padottanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana
side stretch with block

Variation 3: In the final forward bending position, bring your hands behind the back, interlock the fingers and pulling the hands backwards, lift them up toward the ceiling. This will add a nice stretch for the arms and shoulders as well. To come out of the pose, brings your hands down to the original position and come up as mentioned earlier.

prasarita-padottanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana – side stretch

Counter stretch

After this deep forward bending stretch, it is a good idea to do a counter stretch to bring relief to the spine.

  • Come to a standing position with the feet about 6-8 inches apart, parallel to each other
  • Place your hands on the waist, with the thumbs joined together at the base of the spine
  • Try to keep the shoulders rolled back and pressing against the back with the thumbs, begin to bend backward. Keep the legs straight and try to even tilt the head back if it doesn’t cause pain in the neck.
  • Stay in the final pose for about 6 breaths.
  • To come out, with the next exhalation begin to come up to a straight standing position. Relax for a few breaths.

standing-backbend-thumbs
Standing back bend, hands on waist

Benefits:

  • Stretches the legs, thighs, groin area, hamstrings and the hips
  • Very calming for the mind; good pose to practice a few minutes before going to bed – will help you sleep better
  • Great stretch for the spine
  • Tones and strengthen the abdominal muscles
  • In the variation with the hands behind the back, it provides an excellent stretch for the arms and shoulders
  • Recommended in case of mild depression or anxiety

Contraindications

  • As with all the asanas, try to maintain the stretch at a level that feels comfortable and doesn’t strain any part of the body
  • If you have a mild backache, avoid the deep forward bend; use a pair of blocks to provide support for the back
  • Avoid the pose in case of a recent or chronic injury to the spine, hips or shoulders

3 comments to Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-legged standing forward bend)

  • k.srinivasan

    Hari Om..! Atma Namasthe…! Sir, in Prasari Paddottanasana…I feel it increases the blood circulation to the head by hanging the head down ward. what are the contra indications that I might face…surging of blood will it lead to haoemoorage …ofcourse I feel the eye sight circulation of blood is increased there by the vision is restored to normalcy with out dim bright scenario. am seventy years. I have been doing this regularly after seeing your wonderful video audio education . please clarify my doubt . thanks and kind regards
    srinivasan k iyer m.a. m.phil. ph.d

    • Dear Srinivasan, It is nice to see that you have been practicing the prasarita-padottanasana on a regular basis. The main guideline for any yoga practice is to ensure that you keep the stretch within the limits of your body’s flexibility and endurance. Also, see how the stretch feels both during and after the practice. That way you can make any modifications in the next practice. I have not heard of any incidence of hemorrhage as a result of this asana. It will definitely increase the circulation of blood to the head and the brain but should be safe as long as you don’t overdo it.
      All the best.

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