When you practice Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend), the aim is to fold forward from the hips so that you can stretch your hamstrings without straining your back. It doesn’t matter how close you get to the ground. What matters is that you learn to stabilize your legs and your spine while you bend forward.
When you do Prasarita Padottanasana mindfully, it stretches your hamstrings, calves, and hips; strengthens your feet, ankles, and legs; and builds awareness of how to protect your lower back. This pose is also a mild inversion, as it lowers your head and heart below your hips. The combination of the inverted shape and the forward fold tends to bring a wonderful feeling of calmness. Finally, this pose will build strength in your shoulders and upper back, and it will give length and ease to your neck muscles.
If you have tight hamstrings or hips, this pose will require a bit more skill and patience. Tight hamstrings will make it difficult for you to fold very far before your lower back begins to round. If this happens to you, bend your knees slightly to ease the stretch on your hamstrings so that you can keep your low back long and fold forward from your hip joints. Or you can choose to not go all the way to the floor: Place blocks under your hands to lift the floor to you.
How To Do The Prasarita Padottanasana
- To begin this asana, stand at the front of your mat in the Tadasana.
- Inhale. Take a step backward with your right foot so that your body faces the long edge of the mat.
- Stretch your hands out such that they are at shoulder height and right above your feet. Then, bring your hands to your hips.
- 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.
As beginners, it might be hard for you to touch your crown to the floor. Push yourself only as much as you can. Use a blanket, bolster, or a padded block to support your head in this asana.