Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-legged Forward Bend)
How to do it
Begin standing with your feet wide apart and parallel, arms by your sides.
Inhale: Raise your arms up.
Exhale: Bend forward and down, bringing your chest toward your legs, hands on the floor or your ankles.
Inhale: Move your arms pout to the sides, lead with your chest and lift back up.
Repeat this movement several times, then stay in the pose.
Breathing in Prasarita Padottansana
Inhale: Lengthen from the tailbone to the top of the head.
Exhale: Progressively contract your abdomen and pull your belly closer toward your thighs.
Keep the weight even on both feet and your knees slightly bent.
Prasarita Padottanasana: Chest lift is used to strengthen both the upper and lower back, and to lengthen the spine. If you take an extra breath in the raised position and add chin lift/chin tuck to it, you will also loosen up your neck. The hamstrings get worked here, as well. And it doesn’t matter where you keep your hands – ankles, knees, shins – whatever works best.
Prasarita Padottanasana: Fingers interlaced targets the upper back, lower back, shoulders and neck. It alternates between stretching and strengthening of these areas. Your hamstrings get a workout also. Holding the pose with arms extended back will actively engage your upper and lower back while stretching the chest and shoulders. Be sure to control the tilt of your pelvis to avoid exaggerating your lumbar curve. I love to combine this with “Round back” version.
Prasarita Padottanasana: Round back works great for stretching the upper back. Be sure to move your shoulder blades apart by keeping your upper arms parallel. We are aiming for about 90 degree angle at your elbows. If you tuck your chin in a bit, you will also get a stretch on the back of the neck.
One knee bent
Prasarita Padottanasana: One knee bent is wonderful for stretching the inner thighs of the extended leg, while strengthening the hip of the opposite leg. It’s a great preparation pose for any type of adductor/abductor work. Be sure to move your upper body from side to side without rotating it and only bend the knee as much as it’s comfortable. Keeping your hands on the chair is another great option.
One knee bent with chair
Prasarita Padottanasana: One knee bent with chair targets the inner thighs without pulling too hard on the hamstrings. It also helps to strengthen the hips. It takes the load off the knees a bit, so it’s safer for the knees than the original version without the chair.
Prasarita Padottanasana: Sun Sweep is one of the quickest ways to warm up the body and get yourself energized. It loosens up the muscles of the hips and torso and helps you breathe better. Try to keep the movement smooth and as wide as possible to get best results.
Prasarita Padottanasana: Squat works great to warm up and stretch the hips, as well as alternatively stretch and strengthen the lower back. I love using this pose as quick preparation for pranayama or meditation because it helps to loosen up all the right places. It is also a great compensation pose for all sorts of standing backbends, side bends and twists.
Squat with arms forward
Prasarita Padottanasana: Squat with arms forward is great for stretching the entire torso – you are likely to feel it on the sides, front and back. Squatting in this position is just an extra perk for your hips. Be sure to keep the weight of your body on your feet and equally distributed from right to left. You can always place your hands on the block, chair seat, chair back or wall – whatever feels most appropriate.
Squat with arms out
Prasarita Padottanasana: Squat with arms out makes you work your hips and back pretty strongly, so you need to make sure that it’s not too much. You also need to be mindful of the knees here and make sure that they pull out (instead of moving in) to avoid knee strain. I like to use this pose to get more energized in a hurry .
Squat with chair
Prasarita Padottanasana: Squat with chair takes the load off the hamstrings; it stretches the hips and lengthens your spine. The lower back might get a nice stretch, too. It’s good for anybody who cannot bend all the way down without rounding the upper back. You can also put your hands on the wall instead of the chair.
Prasarita Padottanasana: Twist is one of my favorite maneuvers to address neck and upper back tension. In this adaptation you are simultaneously stretching the neck and upper back on one side, while strengthening them on the other. It also helps to stretch the sides of the torso, which gives you more room to breathe. Placing your hands on the seat of the chair works just as well and is much less strenuous for the hamstrings.
Twist with chair
Prasarita Padottanasana: Twist with chair helps to maintain the length of the spine for safer twisting. You can place the hands on the seat or the back of the chair, depending on what feels more comfortable. This pose creates less pull on the hamstrings, while still providing an intense shoulder and torso stretch. You can also regulate how far you go into the twist more easily in this version.