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Prasarita Padottanasana or Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

Prasarita Padottanasana
English Name(s)
Wide-Legged Forward Bend, Straddle Fold, Standing Straddle
Sanskrit
प्रसारिता पादोत्तनासन/ Prasaritta Padottanasana
Pronunciation
(PAHR-ee-VREE-tah prah-suh-REE-tuh pah-doh-tahn-AHS-uh-nuh)
Meaning
Prasaritta (प्रसारित) means “spread,” “stretched,” or “expanded.”
Pada (पाद) means “foot” or “leg.”
Uttana (उत्तान) means “intense stretch.”
Asana (आसन) means a “yoga pose” or “posture.”

Prasaritta Padottanasana At a Glance

Prasaritta Padottanasana (प्रसारित पादोत्तानासन) is a yoga pose that is commonly called “Wide-Legged Forward Bend.” It is also an inversion. It is a Standing Forward Bend and is a basic third pose in Surya Namaskar or Sun salutation.

Benefits:

  • Excellent stretch for hamstrings, hence strengthening legs and feet.
  • It improves circulation to the head and face as it is an inversion.
  • It improves digestion and hence strengthens the abdominal muscles.
  • It lengthens the spine as it is an excellent forward stretch and works on almost all the muscles.

Who Can Do?

People with good hamstrings, hip joints and lower back flexibility can practice wide-legged forward bend.

Who Cannot Do it?

People with back problems, hamstring injury or spinal injury should practice it with modification or avoid the pose.

Introduction

Prasaritta Padottanasana or Wide Stance Forward Bend, is a standing intense stretch pose where the practitioner spreads their legs wide apart, folds through the hips, and brings their hands to the floor. You can also use props. It is a good preparatory pose for tripod headstand and peacock poses. The pose is practiced in the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga sequence in a standing sequence.

Chakras

The wide-legged forward bend stimulates Muladhara chakra (Root Chakra) and Swadhisthana Chakra (Sacral Chakra). These bring feelings of grounding, security, stability with creativity, release of emotions and sensuality to a practitioner.

Philosophy

As it is a wide-legged standing forward fold with inversion, the pose helps to release stress, bringing a person to the present moment. This expresses the yogic philosophy of detachment (vairagya). The practice of the pose encourages mindfulness and awareness. The pose focuses on inner Prana (life force energy) by deep conscious breathing and chest opening.

How to Do Prasaritta Padottanasana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Begin with Tadasana at the top of your mat, with your feet wide apart till comfortable.
  2. Lift your inner ankles and draw your inner arches up. Firm your feet and big toes on the floor. Engage your thighs and place your hands on your hips.
  3. Inhaling starts folding forward with lengthening of the spine. This opens up your chest, too, while exhaling down.
  4. Go halfway with your spine straight and place your hands on the block or floor. Take a few breaths.
  5. Without rounding the shoulder blades, you can still go further down. Take your hands back as you go deeper down with your elbows pointing back and forearms perpendicular to the floor with upper arms parallel to the floor. There is an external rotation of the hips.
  6. You can stretch deeply by releasing your head to the floor. Hold the pose for a few breaths till it stretches the entire spine.
  7. Keep your neck relaxed and gaze towards the toes. Breathe deeply.
  8. Exit the pose gradually. Inhaling, place your hands forward still with an elongated spine and straight arms. Keep your hands on your hips, come back up with a straight spine and Inhale. Stand in the Mountain pose.

What are the Benefits of Prasaritta Padottanasana?

Benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana
  • This pose is an excellent stretch for the hamstrings, which can help improve flexibility in the thigh region.
  • It involves the muscles in the legs, including the quadriceps and inner thighs, thus strengthening these areas.
  • Prasaritta Padottanasana opens up and stretches the hip flexors and strengthens leg muscles.
  • The forward bend in this pose provides lengthening of the spine when you fold deeper. It also reduces lower back pain.
  • The pose is a good stretch for the shoulder and chest, hence good for the respiratory system.
  • As the pose is an inversion, it provides good blood circulation.
  • The pose has a calming effect on the body due to increased blood circulation.
  • The pose helps to balance, especially the Swadishthana chakra, which enhances creativity and balances emotions.
  • Due to the forward fold, the pose helps massage abdominal organs and is good for the digestive system.
  • The pose needs to have a good balance, so regular practice helps to improve balance and coordination of the body.
  • Due to stretching of the spine, the posture is improved. Hence, the pose works on posture correction.
  • The pose offers a good mind-body connection, enhancing inner awareness and mindfulness.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Prasaritta Padottanasana

  • Prasaritta Padottanasana helps improve spinal flexibility and hence reduces pain in the lumbar region by strengthening muscles.
  • The wide-legged forward bend in the pose helps to release endorphins and provide good circulation, thus reducing mild depression and calming the nervous system.
  • The pose aids good digestive health by massaging the abdominal region and has many benefits.
  • Wide-legged forward bend helps release any tightness in the hip flexors.
  • Mild Insomnia can be treated by practicing this pose due to good circulation in the head region.
  • Menstrual cramps and discomfort can be treated by practicing Prasaritta Padottanasana, as the pose is good for releasing pelvic area tension.
  • The pose is good for cardiovascular health due to the semi-inverted nature of the pose. Stress and anxiety are reduced.

Safety and Precautions

  • People with acute or severe back injuries, such as herniated discs, should avoid this pose or practice it with some modifications.
  • Overstretching hamstrings can cause injury, so practice carefully.
  • People with hip issues, such as labral tears or hip impingement, should modify the forward bend pose with yoga blocks.
  • People with high blood pressure should avoid the inversion.
  • People with Glaucoma should modify the pose.
  • People with a neck injury should have their head hanging in the pose.
  • Pregnant women should modify the pose or practice before the yoga teacher.
  • People with osteoporosis should avoid spinal stretching as it may worsen the condition.

Beginner’s Tips

Keep your spine elongated and open your chest. While forward fold, go slow and modify the pose, if needed. With tight hamstrings, you can bend your knees for the forward fold and use blocks if needed. For deepening the pose, if you want to release your head to the floor, start first by using a block under your head, then practice without the block. Keep your feet firm on the floor while performing the forward fold and weight evenly distributed on both feet. Practice some preparatory poses before.

Common Mistakes

Don’t collapse your shoulder blades. Keep your neck relaxed. Weight should be equally distributed at both feet. Place your feet firmly when you go for the forward fold. Do not overstretch your hamstrings. You can bend your knees for the pose if your hamstrings are tight. Keep a check on hand positions since it is done in various types. Keep your hips aligned and hinge forward. Use a yoga block or folded blankets to modify the pose as needed.

Preparatory Poses

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Samasthiti (Mountain Pose), Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2), Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose), Garudasana (Eagle Pose).

Prasaritta Padottanasana and the Breath

  • Stand with your feet wide apart. Inhale and exhale, stretch and elongate your spine and start leaning forward with your naval pulled in and your chest lifted.
  • Simultaneously, bring your arms down to the floor. You can use yoga blocks also for support if needed.
  • At halfway, inhale and exhale, lengthen your spine, further engage your core and then move towards the floor. You can touch the floor or block.
  • Take a few deep breaths and find comfort in the pose. Keep your feet firm on the floor.
  • Hold the pose for a few breaths.
  • Release the pose. Inhale and exhale lookup. Inhale and exhale. Come to the starting position.

Physical Alignment Principles of Prasaritta Padottanasana

  • For this pose first lengthen your spine by deep breathing and then move forward with your back straight and chest lifted.
  • Wait till the half bend, see your comfort level and then move forward to touch your head to the ground. Keep your hands and core engaged. Use props if needed.

Variations

  • In this variation, instead of placing your hands on the floor, clasp your hands behind your back and lift your arms toward the ceiling. This variation deepens the shoulder and chest stretch. The pose is practiced with various arm variations.
  • In this version, you can extend your arms on the floor, creating a longer stretch. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • You can lift one leg at a time for a deeper bend, bringing it closer to your head while keeping the other foot on the floor, creating pigeon toes. This variation can be challenging and should be practiced with caution.
  • You can bend your elbows to the floor to touch your hands and forearms. This variation deepens the forward fold, stretches the shoulders, and opens the chest.
  • From the standard pose, you can lift halfway, keeping your spine straight and elongated. This variation is good for beginners. For a twisted Prasaritta Padottanasana, you can place one hand on the floor or a block, lifting the opposite arm toward the ceiling. This brings about a spinal twist and helps in detoxification of the body.
  • From the standard pose, place one hand on the outside of the opposite foot. This brings a twist in the body and extends the opposite arm toward the ceiling. This variation combines a good twist with the forward bend and open chest.
  • In this variation, clasp your hands behind and then progress for the forward fold. You can also hold big toes on both sides while in the forward fold. This is a very good chest opener variation of the pose. For a deeper version, you can incorporate a headstand (Sirsasana) into this pose by placing your forearms on the floor, clasping your hands, and balancing your head. This requires a lot of strength and balance.
  • Place a yoga block or folded blanket under your forehead when folding forward. This is a good variation for beginners. You can add dynamic movements to the pose, like swaying gently from side to side, bending and straightening your legs, or reaching your hands from side to side to stretch various muscles.

Deepening with Prasaritta Padottanasana A, B, C and D

Prasaritta Padottanasana A

You can use a stick for the forward fold to ensure your flat back. This helps in posture correction. Press your palms firmly into the floor, and shift your weight slightly forward onto your toes.

Prasaritta Padottanasana B

This needs more strength in your core and back muscles since you go deeper into the forward fold. You interlace your fingers behind your back and extend your arms overhead while placing the crown of your head on the floor in the forward fold.

Prasaritta Padottanasana C

This is a good stretch for the shoulders, chest and muscles around the shoulder blades. Your chest and shoulders should be completely open for this pose. You place your hands on the floor between your legs, creating a deeper stretch for the hamstrings and groins.

Prasaritta Padottanasana D

In this pose, you pull on the toes and use that pull to strengthen the spine. Maintain your balance in the pose. Place your hands on your hips. Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale, bringing your left hand to the outside of your right foot. Your right hand can remain on your hip or reach the ceiling.

Follow-Up Poses

Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose), Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), Sirsasana (Headstand), Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide-Angle Forward Bend), Balasana (Child’s Pose).

Counter Poses

FAQ’s

What is the purpose of Prasaritta Padottanasana?

The pose boosts self-confidence and reduces depression.

Which muscles are involved in the wide-legged forward fold?

The pose is a deep hip opener that stretches the pelvis, hamstrings, core and lower back.

How do you improve your Wide-Legged Forward Fold Pose?

Place your feet firmly into the mat and distribute your weight evenly on your feet throughout the practice to maintain balance and stability in the pose.

Take Away

Prasaritta Padottanasana is an excellent forward bend pose for the hamstrings, inner thighs, and groins. It helps improve flexibility in these areas, essential for various yoga poses and daily activities. Prasaritta Padottanasana, when practiced correctly, offers both physical and mental benefits. Regular practice can improve flexibility, strength, and relaxation, making it a valuable addition to a well-rounded yoga routine. Once the pose is mastered, you can always go for variations of the pose for a better result with improved body awareness. The pose targets almost all everyday ailments, bringing out overall well-being.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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