Sanskrit Name: Prasarita Padottanasana A
prasarita = stretched out, expanded, spread, with outstretched limbs
pada = foot
ut = intense
tan = to stretch or extend
How to do:
Prasarita Padottanasana A is one in my top 5 favourite standing poses. It’s a pose that helps to strengthen the legs and abdomen and at the same time calm the mind and release pent up emotions. Make sure that you don’t open your legs too far apart (nor keep them too close together). In the Mysore Ashtanga practice, the tendency is to keep the feet closer together in order to slowly release the hips. But in other practices, you can open your feet wider apart. Make sure that you use your hips to fold, and not force your upper back down.
Keep your feet parallel and if you can, slightly angled inwards. If you’re not used to this pose you feel a lot happening in your calves and feet while in this pose. That’s okay, your muscles are awakening and slowly developing. This pose can really strengthen your feet.
If you can’t reach your hands to the floor, then use a block (or books) to prop you up. Make sure that you don’t keep widening the feet just so you can get your hands (or head) to the floor. It’s important not to ‘pull’ your head by your upper back just so you can place it on the floor. You need to fold from your hips (check out the video above to see how it is done). If at this point all you manage is your fingertips on the floor, then go with that. You hips will slowly open.
If you’ve had a tough day at the office, getting into Prasarita Padottanasana A can help melt some tension away and create some space and calm the nervous system. Be careful when coming back up if you’ve spent some time in this pose. Take is slow, come up halfway, take a breath in and out and then make your way up on an inhale.
Those suffering from headaches, fatigue and mild depression can also benefit from the asana. Please consult your doctor if you are suffering from depression.
Contraindications / Do not Practice
If you’re suffering from lower back issues, it is best not to do this pose fully. Perhaps come only half way and put your hands on a block for support.