How To Do Wide Leg Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana )
A mindful pose from the Ashtanga Yoga Series, Prasarita Padottanasana is calming and therapeutic in nature. The Sanskrit name of the pose comes from ‘Prasarita’ which translates to Spread, Extend, or Expand. ‘Pada’ translates to Foot, ‘Ut’ translates to Intense, ‘Tan’ translates to Stretch, and ‘Asana’ is Pose. The entire translation converts to the Wide Leg Forward Fold and works deeply on both the front and back of the legs, extends the spine, and relieves an aching back. This pose is also used in Back Pain Relief Series. Let us see how to perform Yoga Prasarita Padottanasana in a step-by-step fashion, along with benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana, modifications and the contraindications attached to the pose.
Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Perform Prasarita Padottanasana
Step1: Start in Tadasana with your feet together and placed on the top center of the mat. Jump with one leg towards the other end of the mat, extending 3 to 4 inches apart from the centered leg (depending on the height of the practitioner), where both feet will now be parallel to the edges (respective sides) of the mat. At all times, ensure that the inner feet are parallel to each other.
Step 2: Place the hands on the waist and fix your gaze forward. Exhale deeply. Elongate and stretch the spine. Keeping the torso straight, pull the knees up and start to bend forward from the hip joints.
Step 3: Once the torso is parallel to the floor, place your hands on the floor in front or in between the feet by extending the arms. Put the palms right underneath the shoulders and press them heavily onto the floor while the fingers will be pointing forward.
Step 4: The gaze is fixed on the wall in front of the practitioners. Stay in the pose for 3 to 5 breaths before moving further into the asana.
Step 5: Now bend the elbows to make your forearms perpendicular to the floor and the upper arms parallel. Place the top of the head on the floor in line with the arms which are placed in between practitioner’s feet. The shoulders are always drawn away from the ears, knees are upright, thighs are pulled back, and torso elongated.
Step 6: In order to step out of Prasarita Padottanasana, place both the hands back on the sides of the hips or the waist. Inhale and keep the torso straight, shoulder squared, and spine elongated, and start ascending back up to the starting position.
Modifications & Variations
Beginners or people with tighter hamstrings might find it a little difficult to carry out the pose from end to end. In this case, they can use a yoga block as an extension. In step 3, where both the palms are resting on the mat, instead of resting them on the mat, they can be rested on the blocks. Initially, the blocks can be placed vertically to give extra support when the practitioner’s reach is limited and once they find it smoother to ease into the pose, they can place the blocks horizontally and gradually remove the blocks entirely.
Prasarita Padottanasana comes in four variations named as, A, B, C, and D. This pose is known as Prasarita Padottanasana A. Three other variations require a different placement of the hands. The same variations are explained separately in other documents at length.
Benefits & Advantages
One of the best standing poses from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, the Wide Leg Forward Fold Pose has been known to be both comprehensive and exhaustive in nature. Prasarita Yoga consists of the following benefits:
- The act of placing the head on the floor makes it a perfect pose to activate the Sahasrara or the Crown chakra. It grounds all the negative energy of the body and enhances practitioner’s connection with the Mother Earth
- As the practitioner bends forward and goes all the way down to the floor, the hamstrings and hip muscles experience a deep stretch and elongation. This makes him or her have a greater ease in conducting all the daily activities of the day because a sense of extra space increases in the body
- This pose actively becomes a part of both the lower back strengthening and hip-opening series because of the stretching of both inner and outer thighs, calves, and even the ankles
- The pose is known to increase the flexibility of the spinal column as it stretches and elongates it all the way which further helps the practitioner to perform other Advanced Yoga Poses
- People with extreme lower backache or with a back injury should wait for their body to recover before performing the pose
- Women during their pregnancy should not perform this pose at all. If they decide on practicing it then they should take extra care in the 3rd trimester because of the excess belly weight. It might create an imbalance and lead to unwanted complications
- Practitioners with high BP or vertigo should avoid this pose for longer durations and perform for 2 to 3 breaths only
- Also, those of who are suffering from a chronic knee injury or hip injury should not perform this pose till the symptoms persist
However, the benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana are plenty. It is important that the practitioner notes that while performing Prasarita Padottanasana, there is no kind of uneasiness or discomfort on the head or extra pressure is not rested on the head which might lead to negative impact like a headache, etc.
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