Wide-Legged Standing Forward Fold is a calming forward bend that stretches the hamstrings and back. There are several arm variations and other modifications available, making this a suitable pose for yoga students of all levels! This pose is also sometimes called “Straddle Fold,” “Standing Straddle,” and “Wide-Legged Forward Bend,” among other variations. However, its Sanskrit name — “Prasarita Padottanasana”.
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
Those with back injuries should not fold completely forward, but should practice a modified version of the pose. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
How To Do The Prasarita Padottanasana : Step-by-Step Instructions
1. To begin this asana, stand at the front of your mat in the Tadasana.
2. Inhale. Take a step backward with your right foot so that your body faces the long edge of the mat.
3. Stretch your hands out such that they are at shoulder height and right above your feet. Then, bring your hands to your hips.
4. Inhale, and lengthen your chest and heart skywards, such that your torso is stretched as well. Exhale and bend forward until your fingertips touch the mat in front of you.
5. As you keep stretching, bring the crown of your head to the ground, and push the buttocks towards the ceiling. Your abdominal muscles must also engage with the lengthening of your spine.
6. As for your hands, you could either place them underneath your legs or on your mat, next to your head, with your elbows bent. You could also hold your big toes with your fingers.
7. Hold the pose for up to a minute. Breathe deep and slow. Then, walk your hands forward until the torso is parallel to the floor. With full spinal engagement, bring your hands to your hips. Inhale and lift up your torso. Come back to the Tadasana.
Practicing Prasarita Padottanasana and all of its variations can be a calming way to end your standing sequence. It can also be used to prepare your body for inversions and meditation. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Keep your legs strong and engaged.
- Do not lock your knees.
- Lift and spread your sit bones.
- Keep your face and your gaze soft.
- Emphasize lengthening the front of your torso rather than focusing only on bringing your head and hands all the way down. Bend your knees, or place your hands on blocks, to keep this length as you fold forward.
- Fold from the hips, not the waist. To learn this movement, place and press your hands directly on your front hip bones. Then hinge forward from that spot. Keep your torso long.
- Come up from the pose with a flat back. This will help strengthen the back muscles.
- Aim for aligning your ankles, knees, and hips. It’s common to lean back, placing too much weight on the heels.
Most beginning students aren’t able to easily touch the crown of their head to the floor in the last stage of this forward bend. Instead you can support your head on a padded block, a thickly folded blanket, or a bolster.
Modifications & Variations
The pose as described here is technically known as Prasarita Padottanasana I (in the Iyengar and Ashtanga systems). Prasarita Padottanasana II is a more challenging variation. Perform step 1 of the main description above. Then bring your hands into Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal), but behind your back, a hand position technically known as prstanjali mudra (prsta, pronounced prish-ta, meaning “the back or rear of anything”). To do this lean your torso slightly forward and round your back. Then press your palms together behind your back with your thumbs resting on your sacrum, fingers pointing toward the floor. Exhale and turn the fingers, first toward your back, then upward, so they point toward the ceiling. Slip the pinky sides of your hands up your back as high as possible, ideally between your shoulder blades. Roll your shoulders back and lift your chest, pressing the pinkies deeply into your spine. Finally exhale into your forward bend and bring your head close to or onto the floor. If this hand position isn’t possible for you, simply cross your forearms behind your back and hold the elbows with the opposite hands.
The Benefits Of The Wide-Legged Forward Bend
These are some amazing benefits of wide legged forward bend.
- The back, inner part of the legs, and the spine are stretched and strengthened.
- The abdominal organs are toned, and therefore, digestion is improved.
- The brain is calmed.
- It relieves backaches, headaches, fatigue, and mild depression.
Prasarita Padottanasana is usually sequenced near the end of a standing pose practice. Besides many of the standing poses, good preparations for this pose include:
- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Supta Baddha Konasana
- Baddha Konasana
- Utthita Parsvakonasana
Now that you know how to do Prasarita Padottanasana, what are you waiting for? Dive into a state of peace as your body is alert to its surroundings. Enjoy the contrasts and the best of both worlds with this asana.