Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana): How to Do, Variations, & Benefits

wide-legged forward bend

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Sanskrit PronunciationPrah-sah-reet-ah Pah-doh-tahn-aa-sun-ah (Prasārita Pādottānāsana) प्रसारित पादोत्तानासन
MeaningPrasarita - spread out
Pada - foot
Uttan - extended
Asana - Pose
Pose TypeStanding, stretching, forward bend.
Pose LevelBeginner, practice 20 to 30 seconds
Beneficial InFlexibility and strength of hips, hamstrings, thigs and back.
Known asWide-Legged Standing Forward Bend, Wide Stance Forward Bend, Prasarita Padottanasana,

Wide-Legged Forward Bend is a beginner level forward bending pose, that gives an amazing expansion to the torso with a deep stretch in hips and hamstrings. It not only keeps us physically fit but also improves mental health.

This pose is described by BKS Iyenger in his book Ligh On Yoga. K. Pattabhi Jois also explains this pose in his Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. These both are pupils of Krishnamacharya, the father of modern Yoga.

In this pose, we spread out/Prasarita our feet/Pada, in a wide stance and bend/extend/Uttana the torso forward; therefore, we call it Wide-Legged Forward Bend or Prasarita Padottanasana. It mainly focuses on the following muscles.

  • Hamstrings and thighs
  • Hips and pelvis
  • Calves and knees
  • Lower back and core

Now, let’s see how you can perform this asana.

How to Do Wide-Legged Forward Bend

wide-legged forward bend instructions

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In this asana, we keep our feet wide apart and fold the torso forwards until the head touches the ground. You need to follow the following steps to perform it in a yoga session.

Preparing the Pose

1. Stand tall and straight on the floor or get into Tadasana/Samasthiti (Mountain Pose).

2. Bring your hands on your waist

3. Spread out your feet about 4-5 feet apart. Keep the toes of both feet parallel, while, turn out the heels slightly, maintaining a proper balance.

4. Draw the knee-caps upward to make the legs tight.

Getting Into the Asana

5. Exhale and place your palms on the floor, between your feet. Keep the arms straight.

Note- The palms should be in line with the feet, fingertips pointing forwards.

6. Inhale, raise the head and stretch the back, making a curve with back.

7. Exhale, fold the elbows, bend the torso from the hips and rest the crown of the head on the floor. Engage your hamstrings and thighs, keeping the spine straight.

8. Keep the head exactly between your feet and palms. Your elbows should be pointing behind you.

Note- Maintain the weight of the body on your legs, not in the crown on the head.

Checkpoint- 

  • Your back should be straight.
  • The crown of the head and palms should be resting on the floor.
  • Your legs should be stretched and straight.
  • Your palms, head, and feet should be in a straight line.

9. Now breathe deeply and hold this position for 20-30 seconds.

Releasing the Asana

10. To release the asana, take a deep breath. Inhale and raise the head off the floor and straighten your arms. i.e. come back to Step 6.

11. Exhale and lift your torso, i.e. get back to step 3.

12. Now, slowly bring your feet together, come back to Tadasana and relax.

Important Note- Lengthening your torso is much crucial than placing the head on the floor. So, keep an eye on lengthening your torso while lowering your body.

Beginner’s Tips

If you are a beginner, you might feel difficult to place your head on the floor, so, you can put a yoga block under your head to rest the crown upon it.

Also, if you have the same problem while placing your hands on the floor, you can put yoga blocks under your palms.

It is always best to take the help of someone to perform this asana correctly. So if you are feeling it difficult to achieve, ask your friend or instructor for support while bending.

Preparatory Poses

Follow-Up Poses

Variations of Wide-Legged Forward Bend

There are three more variations of Prasarita Padottanasana. The one that is described above is Prasarita Padottanasana A. Other are a little intense then A. So, now let’s know what the other variations are.

Prasarita Padottanasana B

Here, after coming into Prasarita Padottanasana A, you have to lift your hands off the floor and place them on your waist. Your elbows should be pointing towards the direction of the toes. The rest of the things remain the same as in A.

Also, you can join your palm behind your back and form Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) right behind your back.

Prasarita Padottanasana B gives additional stretch to your shoulders and opens the chest besides all benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana A.

Prasarita Padottanasana C

In this type, interlace your fingers behind your back and bring your hands down, towards the ground. Keep the arms straight and stretched. Besides, you can keep them raised, if you feel uncomfortable drawing them down.

Besides the benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana A, this asana generates stretch over your arms and shoulder, while expanding the chest.

Prasarita Padottanasana D

After getting into Prasarita Padottanasana A, move your palms and grab the big toes, holding them with first two fingers and thumb. Keep your arms out to the sides. Bend your elbows and keep them over the wrist. Try to pull the torso with the hands.

This asana adds some extra stretch to your shoulder, back, and chest.

Precautions and Contraindications

  • Do not overstretch your body. Stretch it according to your body’s stretching limits.
  • Bend the torso from the hips, not from the waist.
  • Perform this asana on an empty stomach. If you already had a meal, wait for at least 4 hours before performing this asana.
  • Do not press your head on the floor. Simply rest it on the floor.
  • If you have a recent or grave injury on your hips, thighs, back or knees, do not perform this asana.
  • As there is ample pressure towards the head, so, avoid performing this asana in blood pressure problems and headaches.
  • People who have fibromyalgia or arthritis on the knees or hips should not perform this asana.
  • Women in advance stages of pregnancy must avoid this asana.

Benefits of Wide-Legged Forward Bend

This asana comes with a lot of benefits to the body. Here is a list of benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana.

  • This asana opens the hips and stretches the lower back muscles. It removes stress and stiffness from the hips, and tones the lower back muscles.
  • It tones and massages the core muscles and organs, hence increases their functions. This help in better digestion and matabolism.
  • Through the stretching of legs, Wide-Legged Forward Bend puts an ample amount of pressure on hamstring and quadriceps. Thus, it increases the mobility of these parts and enhances the strength and flexibility of the whole thigh.
  • It tones the muscles of calves & ankles and improves their flexibility.
  • As this asana brings a good flow of blood to the head, it helps to nourish the brain and soothes the brain muscles. Also, it removes stress around the neck and shoulders.
  • Prasarita Padottanasana improves the flow of prana to the body and brain. So, it enhances the brain and body functions. Also, it removes fatigue and supplies energy to the body.
  • This asana is said to stimulate Mooladhara/Root Chakra, Swadhisthana/Sacral Chakra, and Manipura/Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulation increases self-esteem, self-confidence, will power, etc.
  • Wide-Legged Forward Bend fills you with sensations of joy and satisfaction. It relaxes the nervous system and creates a deep sense of relaxation and accomplishment. Also, it removes depression, anger, and anxiety from the body.

Wide-Legged Forward Bend FAQs

  1. I am not experiencing any significant stretch on my legs as I have been practising Prasarita Padottanasana for a long time. What should I do to increase the stretch?

    After regular practice, it will be easier to place your crown on the floor in Wide-Legged Forward Bend, without experiencing much stretch on your thighs and hips.
    So, to increase the stretch in Wide-Legged Forward Bend, gradually lessen the distance between your feet. It will increase the stretch on your hips and legs.

  2. Does Wide-Legged Forward Bend/Prasarita Padottanasana help to prevent sciatica?

    Yes, Wide-Legged Forward Bend/Prasarita Padottanasana helps a lot to cure and prevent sciatica. Through the stretch in the hips, hamstring, and legs, it nourishes & presses the muscles of the leg and prevents every type of pain.
    But, you are not advised to replace this asana with medicational treatment. Instead, perform it in conjunction with the medical treatment for the best results.

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