Wide Legged Forward Bend / Prasarita Padottanasana
Step by Step
- From Tadasana, step the feet wide apart, about your legs’ length. Your feet should be as close to parallel as feels comfortable to you. Lift your inner arches by drawing the inner ankles up. Firm the outer edges of your feet and big toes into the floor. Engage your thighs by drawing them up. Place your hands on your hips.
- Inhale and lengthen the front of your body. Exhale and fold forward from your hips, keeping your back straight, your chest open, and keeping your hips over your heels. Go half-way down with a straight back and place your hands underneath your shoulders onto the floor, keeping your arms straight. Maintain the length along the front of your body, neck long and maintain your gaze in front of you without compressing the back of your neck. Take a few breaths here.
- If you feel you can still go further with a straight back. On the next exhale, walk your hands back as you fold deeper from the hips, keeping your hands underneath your elbows, elbows pointing back, with your forearms perpendicular to the floor and your upper arms parallel to the floor.
- In the full forward bend release your head down. If it’s available to you, with a long neck place the crown of your head on the floor.
- Stay in this pose anywhere between 5 and 10 breaths.
- It is important to keep your back straight, slightly concaved, and the front of your body long and open. So if you feel at any time you start to round your back as you’re lowering further down, come back a little to the point where you can do this with a straight back. Integrity and respect for your body’s boundaries are more important than how far you come into the pose. Be careful not to overstretch your hamstrings.
- To come out of this pose, inhale and walk your hands forwards to position them under your shoulders again with straight arms and a straight back.
- Exhale placing the hands on your hips. Press into your feet and inhale to come up with a straight back.
- Come back into Mountain Pose.
- If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees enough to feel that you are able to maintain a straight back more easily. A micro-bend in the knees, even if you have open hamstrings, is advisable to prevent over-extension of the knees.
- To get the feeling of placing the crown of your head on the “floor”, place a block (or two) underneath your head.
- Stretches the back and inside of the legs
- Opens the hips
- Stretches the spine
- Grounds you and calms the mind
- Can relieve mild backache
Watch out for
- Shoulders tend to collapse in this pose - ensure you keep your shoulder blades drawing together and down your back.
- Be mindful of your weight distribution in your feet - you may find that you have a tendency to sink into the back of your heels - bring the weight into the middle of your foot or towards the balls of your toes. Engage Pada Bandha (foot lock) by grounding down all four corners of your feet and engaging your toes.
- Follow all instructions above up to the point of folding forwards.
- Interlace your fingers behind your back.
- Release your shoulders down your back and draw your shoulder blades together as you fold from your hips bringing your hands overhead.
- Keep your back straight and release your head down towards the floor - keep your chest open by maintaining a focus on bringing your shoulder blades together, and aim your hands a little further overhead keeping your arms as straight as feels comfortable for you.
- If you have less mobility in your shoulders, use a belt and work your way towards bringing your hands closer together until eventually, over time, you can clasp your hands
- Follow all instructions above up folding forwards from the hips with a straight back.
- If this is available to you, take hold of your big toes with your index and middle fingers and start to bend your elbows, drawing your head down towards the floor.
- Don’t compromise the pose by collapsing through your chest and rounding your upper back - keep your chest open, 'smiling' through your collar bones, and keep your shoulders away from your ears.
- Complementary poses
Try it in class
Energy freeing lunchtime yoga with Esther Ekhart
Level: All Levels
Duration: 20 mins