Wide-legged forward bend (Prasarita Padottanasana) is a great pose for increasing flexibility and restoring calmness to the mind. I have been loving this pose lately and incorporate it into each flow I’ve been practicing. I love how I feel after holding this pose for a long time. I like to do 2 tracks on my yoga playlist just in this pose and its variations. Afterward, I feel awake, refreshed, and completely rejuvenated. I am also trying to prepare my body for arm balances and hopefully splits too, and this pose can be used as great preparation for those challenging poses. I also find that kids love inversion poses, making this pose great for kids yoga too.
As with any inverted pose, where your head rests below your heart (aka, you’re upside down), this pose will improve oxygenated blood circulation to the brain and throughout the body. This creates a great sense of calm, reduces anxiety, helps improve sleep, and awakens and rejuvenates the entire body.
-Stretches the lower back and relieves back pain.
-This pose provides a great leg and hamstring stretch.
-This pose is also considered a hip opener, which will open and loosen the joints and muscles around the hips.
-This pose can relieve shoulder and neck pain by letting the head hang.
-Tones the core.
-Prepares yogis to do challenging arm balances and splits.
Here’s how to do the pose:
Step 1: Begin in mountain pose and step the legs open wide, beyond the shoulders, as far as you are comfortable.
Step 2: Slowly, gently bend forward until the hands touch the ground. If you are unable to reach the ground, this pose can be done using a chair in front of you to rest your hands and head until your flexibility increases to the point you can fold completely forward.
Step 3: If you are able to, completely fold forward. You can rest your elbows and / or crown of the head on the ground. You can also hold onto your ankles or clasp the hands behind your back for variations of this stretch. If needed, rest your head on a yoga block.
Step 4: To prepare for arm balances, you can gently shift your weight forward to bear more weight with your upper body when you have your elbows resting on the floor with the crown of your head touching in-between. Gently see if you can lift your heels and stay on your toes. This will build great upper body and core strength you need for those arm balances.
Step 5: To prepare your body for splits, gently spread the feet out a little further, a little at a time as far as you can go. You can challenge yourself with this stretch, but don’t go so far that it’s painful. A good rule of thumb is if you feel like you can’t hold the stretch for too long then you’ve gone too far. It should feel good, not painful.
Step 6: To deepen your stretch on the backs of the legs and further prepare the body for splits, slowly walk both hands over to one side and bend that knee so that your buttocks fall all the way to the floor. Point the toes of the outstretched leg towards the sky and hold. Repeat on the other side. You can also hug your arms to one leg while both legs are straight in this forward fold and repeat on the other side.
Step 7: To stretch the spine, one arm can be placed on the floor while the other reaches up to the sky behind you, turning your gaze to the sky if possible. Hold and repeat on the opposite side. For an advanced spine stretch, hug one leg while in this forward fold, then hold onto the ankle with the opposite hand. Twist your gaze outward and stretch the arm not grasping the ankle outward and forward, with the goal of reaching it all the way to the opposite ankle.
Step 8: To open the shoulders, clasp your hands behind your back while you have the crown of your head resting on the floor. Slowly bring your clasped hands away from your body as far as you can go, with the goal of touching them all the way to the ground behind your head.
I hope you enjoy this pose and its variations as much as I do. Comment down below with your favorite ways to prepare the body for arm balances and splits, or check out some of the other topics on my yoga blog.