Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose, as it is known in English, Prasarita Padottanasana is one of the recommended hip-opening yoga asanas. It is the fifth fundamental pose in Ashtanga Yoga. Since the head rests higher than the head, the posture is an inversion of sorts, despite being considered as a forward bend. This pose aims to open the hips by stretching the hamstrings, yet to maintain a safe back during the practice. It does not matter if the crown rests on the floor. What matters here is how aware are you about your lower back as you feel the hips opening.

Prasarita Padottanasana
Prasarita Padottanasana

Prasarita Padottanasana Meaning

Pronounced as pra-sa-REE-tah pah-doh-tahn-AHS-anna, the Asana’s name is made up from Sanskrit words. Prasarita means to spread out. Pada implies foot, Ut stands for intense, and tan for stretching. Asana, in Sanskrit, refers to pose. So when you combine the words, it actually means spread out feet intense stretch pose. In simple words, Prassarita Padottanasana means Wide-stance forward fold. It is sometimes called straddle yoga pose.

This pose is also known as Dandayamana Konasana or the Standing Angle Pose.

Prasarita Padottanasana Benefits

The Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose could gift the practitioner with the following benefits:

  • Better confidence
  • Reduce depression
  • Soothes the brain
  • Better functioning of the nervous system
  • Boosting and energizing the lungs and heart
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Therapeutic for stress-related headaches, fatigue, and migraine
  • Toned abdominal organs and legs
  • Neutralize stomach acid and improve digestion
  • Strengthen the knee joint
  • Make the hips flexible and supple
  • Regulate the menstrual flow
  • Offer relief from bloating, constipation, and even irritable bowel syndrome
  • Stretch the hamstrings and make them stronger and agile Ease mild backaches
  • Lower anxiety and panic
  • The variations B and C stretch and open the chest
  • Variations C and D are beneficial to open shoulders and chest

Prasarita Padottanasana Variations

Prasarita Padottanasana A B C D
Prasarita Padottanasana A B C D

The Ashtanga and Iyengar schools of yoga refer the first variation of the pose, Prasarita Padottanasana A, described here as Prasarita Padottanasana I. Prasarita Padottanasana C is the variation these schools practice as Prasarita Padottanasana II, with the palms resting on the back in reverse Namaste or Anjali Mudra, the Salutation Seal.

The four variations of Prasarita Padottanasana are usually practiced as a gentle Vinyasa with an Ardha Prasarita Padottanasana between two variations to relax the spine. Read on to know how to practice the pose.

Getting into Prasarita Padottanasana

  1. Start with Samsthitih or the Equilibrium, sides of the feet touching each other. Allow the arms to rest on the thighs. Roll the shoulders down and away from the ears, opening the chest. Press the feet firmly into the floor while extending the torso to the ceiling.
  2. Take an inhalation and place the right foot about three to feet away from the left. [If you are using a yoga mat, set the right foot back and turn sideways by ninety degrees to face the long side of the mat. Adjust the feet to bring the parallel to the shorter edges of the yoga mat.]
  3. Breathing out, stretch the arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor. Rotate the hips so that they remain squared.
  4. Inhale and swing the arms over the head. Pull up the kneecaps. Engage the core muscles and lengthen the torso. Take a backbend here.
  5. Exhaling, gently fold forward from the hips, extending the spine until the upper body rests between the thighs. The motion of the torso should be smooth and wavy, starting with the hips in the following order – hips, pelvis, abdomen, ribcage, and finally, the head.
  6. Guide the hands along with the body to maintain the synchronization and harmony of the body’s movements. Practice one of the variations. Hold the position for five deep breaths.
  7. Gently rest the palms on the waist after completing the variant. Gently lift the torso, allowing the spine to come parallel to the floor. Lengthen the body through the neck. Hold for five breaths.
  8. Inhale and straighten the torso.

Tips

  • Maintain a neutral spine. Do not round the spine in an attempt to rest the crown of the head on the floor. The focus is not resting the crown on the floor.
  • If the hamstrings are very tight, bend the knees a little to lift the pressure away from the spine. Alternatively, rest the palms on the shin or wherever it can rest comfortably without pulling the hamstrings and injuring the back.

Prasarita Padottanasana A

Prasarita Padottanasana A
Prasarita Padottanasana A

This variation is the most basic among the four varieties of this Asana. The palms rest flat on the floor.

  • Practice steps 1 through 6 mentioned under Getting Into Prasarita Padottanasana.
  • Place the palms on the floor, between the feet.
  • The elbows should face the body, but without lifting the shoulders.
  • Tuck the chin to the chest to engage in Jalandhara Bandha, the Chin Lock.
  • Rest the crown of the head, if possible, on the mat, and gaze backward.
  • It is more essential to fold from the hips while maintaining the length of the spine than resting the crown on the floor.
  • Once the hips and hamstrings become supple, the top of the head will rest on the floor.
  • Hold for five breaths.
  • Inhale and slowly come back to step 7. Complete step 8.

Tips

To deepen the stretch and allow the crown to come closer to the floor, gently bend the elbows and bring the torso closer to the floor.

Prasarita Padottanasana B

Prasarita Padottanasana B
Prasarita Padottanasana B

For variation B, the palms rest on the waist. The aim is to open elbows backward and bring them as close as possible.

  • From Step 8, take an inhalation. Exhaling, fold forward until the crown of the head comes into contact with the floor/mat.
  • Pressing the palms into the waist and maintaining active shoulders, lift through the elbows. This will allow the chest to open and bring elbows closer.
  • Tuck the chin to the chest, engaging in Jalandhara Bandha.
  • Take 5 breaths here.
  • Inhale and come back to step 7. Complete step 8.

Prasarita Padottanasana C

Prasarita Padottanasana C
Prasarita Padottanasana C

This variation of the Wide-Legged Forward Fold is also known as Baddha Hasta Prasarita Padottanasana. There are a couple of ways one could practice Prasarita Padottanasana C.

Variation 1

  • From step 8, inhale, interlock the palms behind the body, and gaze up.
  • Exhaling, fold forward while lifting the interlaced arms over the head.
  • Let the hands rest down on the floor/mat, if possible along with the crown.
  • Let the shoulders move towards the hips. Do not lift the shoulders close to the ears as it could injure the neck.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
  • Inhale and come back to step 7, without releasing the arms. Exhale and release the arms. Complete step 8.

Variation 2

  • From step 8, bring your arms behind your back and grab the opposite elbows. Inhale and gaze up.
  • Exhaling, fold forward wholly to rest the crown on the floor without lifting the interlaced arms.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
  • Inhale and come back to step 7, without releasing the arms. Exhale and release the arms. Complete step 8.

Variation 3

  • From step 8, bring your arms behind your back and join the palms in Namaste. Inhale and gaze up.
  • Exhaling, fold forward wholly to rest the crown on the floor without lifting the interlaced arms.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
  • Inhale and come back to step 7, without releasing the arms. Exhale and release the arms. Complete step 8.

Prasarita Padottanasana D

Prasarita Padottanasana D
Prasarita Padottanasana D

There are three variations for Prasarita Padottanasana D as well.

Variation 1

  • From step 8, inhale and bend backward. Exhaling fold forward.
  • While folding forward with the exhalation, hold the outer sides of the feet firmly, allowing the fingers to rest under the soles of the feet.
  • Inhale and straighten the arms while gazing forward.
  • Lift the hips without compromising on the spine length.
  • Exhaling completely, fold forward entirely, keeping the elbows straight. Let the crown rest on the floor/mat.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
  • Breathing in, release the fingers, and rest the palms on your waist.
  • Gently come back to step 7. Practice step 8.

Variation 2

  • From step 8, inhale and bend backward. Exhaling fold forward.
  • While folding forward with the exhalation, hold the big toes using the three-finger grip. [Thumb resting on top of the big toe while the index and middle fingers resting under the big toe.]
  • Inhale and straighten the arms while gazing forward.
  • Lift the hips without compromising on the spine length.
  • Exhaling completely, fold forward entirely, keeping the elbows straight. Let the crown rest on the floor/mat.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
  • Breathing in, release the fingers, and rest the palms on your waist.
  • Gently come back to step 7. Practice step 8.

Variation 3

  • From step 8, inhale and bend backward. Exhaling fold forward.
  • While folding forward with the exhalation, hold the ankles of respective feet from outside.
  • Inhale and straighten the arms while gazing ahead.
  • Lift the hips without compromising on the spine length.
  • Exhaling completely, fold forward entirely, keeping the elbows straight. Let the crown rest on the floor/mat.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
  • Breathing in, release the fingers, and rest the palms on your waist.
  • Gently come back to step 7. Practice step 8.

Prasarita Padottanasana Twist / Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana

Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana
Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana

This variation of Prasarita Padottanasana gifts a rich detoxification experience to the entire digestive system and renal system. The liver, stomach, spleen, and kidneys enjoy a complete rinse, allowing the toxins to flush out the bodies.

Wide-Legged Standing Forward Fold with a Twist

  • Practice steps 1 through 6 mentioned under Getting Into Prasarita Padottanasana.
  • Place the palms on the floor.
  • Place the left palm beneath the face syncing it with the center of the body. Inhale here. While exhaling, twist to the right and lift the right arm up, fingertips pointing to the ceiling. Gaze up.
  • Take a short inhalation as while breathing out, rotate the torso more without hurting the spine. Hold for five breaths. Feel the stretch in the inner left thigh.
  • Exhaling, gently bring the right palm back to the floor.
  • Repeat steps 7 and 8 before practicing the twist on the other side.

Prasarita Padottanasana Sequence

One can easily include Prasarita Padottanasana as a part of a sequence. Here is a simple Vinyasa one could try.

Start with Samasthitih, the Equilibrium pose.

Stand with the feet together, kneecaps and thighs pulled up. Lengthen the spine. Roll the shoulders down and away from the ears, bringing the shoulder blades together. Engage the muscles of the abdomen.

Tadasana

Inhale and stretch the arms over the head. Take five breaths. Gently come on the tips of the toes, until the hamstrings experience a beautiful stretch. Hold for five more breaths. Exhale and smoothly go back to the starting position without releasing the arms.

Anuvittasana or Standing Back Bend

Inhale and bend backward, maintaining a gentle bend on the knees. Synchronize the movement of the arms as the torso and head bend backward. Hold for five deep breaths. Inhale and slowly come back to the center. Release the arms to the sides.

Utthita Tadasana or Five-Pointed Star

Separate the feet about three to four feet wide and rest the palms on the thighs. Inhale and lengthen the torso. Exhale and engage the abdomen, bringing the navel close to the spine. Inhale and lift the arms at shoulder level, palms facing the floor. Exhale and press the feet into the floor/mat. Engaging the core muscles, gaze forward, and hold the Asana for five exhalations. Inhale and release the arms.

Utkata Konasana or Goddess Pose

Rest the palms on the waist. Inhale and lengthen the torso. Turn the feet away from the body. Exhale and squat, keeping the spine long and straight. Keep sitting until the thighs become parallel to the floor. Join the palms at the Heart center in Namaste or Anjali Mudra and hold for five deep breaths. Inhale, release the arms, and straighten the legs and turn feet inward. Shake the legs out before practicing Prasarita Padottanasana.

Prasarita Padottanasana

  • Practice steps 1 through 6 mentioned under Getting Into Prasarita Padottanasana.
  • Follow through the Prasarita Padottanasana Vinyasa before returning to step 7 and 8.

Utthita Parsvakonasana or Side Angle Pose

  • Maintaining the distance between the feet, turn the right foot to the right. Turn the left foot inward at 45 degrees. Inhale and lengthen the spine. Keep the hips squared. Exhale and bend the right knee, stacking it over the right ankle. Place the right arm on the right thigh. Inhale and extend the left arm to the ceiling. Gaze up at the fingertips. Hold for five breaths. Inhale and release the pose to come back to the standing posture. Repeat on the other side.
  • Join the feet together to get into Samasthitih.

Wind up the sequence by resting in Balasana, or Child’s Pose, for a couple of breaths. Alternatively, one can also practice Savasana or the Corpse Pose.

Tips to Practice Prasarita Padottanasana

  • Engage the core muscles by pulling the navel close to the spine to keep it active.
  • Always roll the shoulders away and down from the ears to open the chest and ribcage.
  • Lengthen the spine instead of rounding the back to get the maximum benefits of the Asana.
  • Always fold forward from the hips to lift the pressure away from the lower back.
  • In the presence of a knee injury or tight hamstrings, keep the knees slightly bent.
  • Contraindications And Cautions
  • Practice only Ardha Prasarita Padottanasana where lower back issues prevail.
  • Avoid the practice during menstruation and pregnancy.
  • Avoid the Asana if there is a hamstring or hip injury.
  • It is advisable not to practice the pose is there is a fluctuation in blood pressure levels or dizziness.
  • Refrain from this Asana when there is nasal congestion, migraine, and/or sinusitis.
  • This pose is not advisable for those with neck and spine injury.

Modifications And Props

  • If interlacing the fingers behind the back with straight arms is a struggle, choose to use a yoga strap. A strap will enable to do the complete Asana without compromising on the benefits.
  • One can use yoga blocks to rest the forehead to hold the posture longer. Blocks are also ideal when placing the palms on the floor is a challenge.
  • One can also use a chair to rest the palms and elongate the spine if there is a pressure on the lower back.

Deepen the Pose

Prasarita Padottanasana Adjustment
Prasarita Padottanasana Adjustment

To deepen the pose, come on the fingertips instead of resting the palms flat on the floor [Prasarita Padottanasana A].

One can also experience a deeper stretch by placing the elbows on the floor.

Preparatory Poses

  • Tadasana
  • Anuvittasana
  • Utkata Konasana
  • Utthita Tadasana
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Supta Baddha Konasana

Follow-Up Poses

  • Baddha Koṇāsana
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana
  • Janu Sirsasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Bakasana
  • Balasana
  • Savasana

Beginner’s Tip

Resting the crown of the head on the floor is pretty challenging. So, use a cushioned block or bolster to support the top of the head during the initial days of the practice.

Practicing Prasaita Padottanasana will gift supple and flexible hips, along with putting the stress experienced daily to rest.

 

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I’ve always been enthusiastic about discovering myself, the life and the people. I realize that I have to live in the present moment in order to do that better. This is the mindfulness. Yoga has become the part of my life for more than 5 years. I also completed my teacher training program (RYT 200, Yoga Alliance) and I wanted to share my experiences with everyone. I believe that the articles on YogaArt.com can help you reach out to the mindful state. Yoga is the Art of Mindfulness. Let's be present together. Namaste!

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