tan: “to stretch or extend” (compare the Latin verb tendere, “to stretch or extend”)
Prasarita Padottanasana (pra-sa-REE-tahpah-doh-tah-NAH-suh-nuh) tones the hamstring and abductor muscles and gives flexibility to the hip joints.
The inverted nature of the upper body in this pose means that a rich supply of blood is brought to the trunk and brain, making it an alternative to Shirsasana.
This pose has a calming effect on the body and mind. The inverted nature of the upper body prepares the practitioner for inversions and deeper forwards extensions. Placing the head down on the earth creates a humbling effect on the mind.
Those with disc herniation should keep the spine parallel to the floor with a concaved back and with their palms on blocks. Those with high blood pressure, glaucoma, detached retina, or shoulder or neck injury should not keep their head down, but rather, rest their head on the seat of a chair, keeping their spine parallel to the floor.