Wide Standing Forward Bend
Sanskrit: Prasarita Padottanasana
Image of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
Wide Standing Forward Bend is one of my favorite poses. I love it! I could stay in the pose for a very long time! Just can’t get enough. 🙂 This is a beautiful inversion that assists us in going deeper inside.
This pose is fantastic for toning and strengthening the groin, hips, hip flexors, calves, thighs, inner and back legs, knees, hamstrings and opening the spine. It increased blood flow to the upper body and head, thus improving blood circulation to the upper body and brain; not to mention tapping into our nervous system to relieve anxiety and stress, as well as calm the mind. Ahhhh…. This pose has been known to calm mild back aches as well. While bending in this blissful pose, you are also, toning up and massaging the abdominal and pelvic organs.
Directions on how to come into the pose:
Standing in Tadasana (Mountain pose), step or jump feet out to the sides, about a legs length apart. To get the proper width, take your arms out to your side shoulder height. Check to be sure your ankles are under your wrists. Lower your arms. Both feet are facing forward, almost pigeon-toed. Inhale arms up, exhale arms forward and down, as you hinge from your hips and lower to the ground. At this point, you may choose a block to rest your hands or head on depending upon how tight your hamstrings are. If it’s accessible, you may take my favorite variation, hand to opposite elbow and allow your entire upper body to relax forward, even swaying from side to side a few times. If you are extra flexible and feeling like this isn’t enough of a stretch you may want to bring your feet closer together. Be mindful of shifting your weight into the balls of the feet. Your heels will still be touching but the weight is simply shifted forward, to allow for the deepest stretch in your body. Breathe deeply into the abdominal area encouraging movement, as well as an internal massage. Close your eyes.
Relax. Breathe. Go inward. Hold here for a few deep cleansing breathes or even for a minute or more. (Other variations are to take your hands and hug your ankles. Or bring your hands next to your ears. Or take your hands under your body and behind you to go deeper into the stretch.)
To come out, press your hands into the floor under your head. Lift your head and upper body coming up to hip level. From here you may either roll up, rounding your spine one vertebrae at a time or hinging at the hips come up with a straight spine. Heel-toe your feet back in towards each other, standing back in Mountain Pose. Inhale arms up, exhale palms together at your heart for Namaste. Close your eyes and breathe.
When not to do this pose or to modify/Contraindications:
If you have a lower back pain or injury be sure avoid the full forward bend, perhaps taking your hands onto two blocks instead to be a little higher and take any possible pull or strain off the back from the injury.
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