Step by step
- From Tadasana, step the feet wide apart, feet as close to parallel as feels comfortable. You are looking for stability and grounding.
- 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.
- Lengthen your spine and open your chest as you inhale.
- Fold forward from the hips, keeping your back long and your chest open, as you exhale. Go half-way down with a straight back and place your hands underneath your shoulders onto the floor, or on blocks. Take a few breaths here.
- If you feel you can still go further without rounding the back, 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.
- To come out of this pose, walk your hands forwards to position them under your shoulders as you inhale, still with a long spine and straight arms. Place your hands on your hips as you exhale and come back up with a straight back, as you inhale. Walk your feet back into Mountain pose.
- It is important to keep your back elongated and the front of your body open. If you feel at any point that you start to round your back as you are lowering further down, come back a little. Integrity and respect for your body’s boundaries are more important than how far you come into the pose.
- If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees enough to feel that you are able to maintain a straight back more easily and use blocks under your hands.
- 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, shoulders and chest.
- Calms the mind.
- Eases tension in the upper back.
Watch out for
- A micro-bend in the knees, even if you have open hamstrings, is advisable to prevent over-extension of the knees.
- Be mindful not to overstretch your hamstrings.
- 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.
- Change the position of your arms for a shoulder opening variation in Prasarita Padottanasana C
- And Prasarita Padottanasana D