Prasarita Padottanasana

Wide-legged forward bend

(pra-sa-REE-tah pah-doh-tahn-AHS-anna)
prasarita = stretched out, spread, with outstretched limbs; pada = foot; ut = intense; tan = to stretch or extend

This pose eases mild back tension as well as strengthening the inner legs and spine, and calming the mind.

  1. Step your feet into a wide stride (around five foot depending on height).
  2. Make sure your feet are level and check that your heels don’t turn in and your toes don’t turn out. Then double check!
  3. Find the centre heels and lift up the inner arches, balancing the two instructions against each other working organically, creatively and non-mechanically.
  4. Feel contact with your inner groins, increase the depth of your sensation there.
  5. Move forwards, deepening the inner groins and hinging from the hips.
  6. Lower your hands to the floor in front of you so that your chest is parallel to the floor.
  7. Take a few breaths, adjusting the shoulder blades to free any tightness.
  8. Continue planting on the centre heels while keeping the inner knees lifted and outer hips deepening.
  9. Continue to pivot down from the hips then take hold of your elbows releasing the spine and side ribs from the hip joints (where the hips move easily, bring hands to the floor and let the head hang or rest on the floor. Place the hands below the shoulders, as in picture.)
  10. Breath through your nose, focusing on relaxing at the end of your out breath allow the in breaths to come in unhindered.

Duration:
Stay for 10-20 breaths or for up to a minute, then come up on an in breath. Or walk your feet in and then come up.


Easing into the pose:

Stretch at first to a wall or an even backed chair so that the spine does not become compressed.

Contraindications

  • Avoid staying for long periods until the back is comfortable in the pose.
  • Where strain is felt on the outer shins, bend the knees until the strain has passed. Gradually re-straighten your legs while rotating the shin bones outwards to resettle on the centre heels without strain.
  • Work creatively and remain aware of your breath and calm to avoid over work.

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Quotes

On Svadyaya…
‘Svadayaya means self study. My understanding is that this Niyama means develop objectivity. Study your mind and your body, observe yourself deeply, understand yourself thoroughly. Become self aware. Practice the four foundations of mindfulness. Also study the truth through texts and seek out good teachers to help you.’

— Karunajala