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NEXT IN YOGAPEDIA 3 Steps to Modify Prasarita Padottanasana
SEE ALL ENTRIES IN YOGAPEDIA
Prasarita = Expand/spread out · Pada = Foot · Ut = Intense · Tan = To stretch or extend · Asana = Pose
Lengthens and strengthens your hamstrings, calves, feet, and spine; calms your mind and promotes introspection; helps relieve headaches
1. Stand in the center of your mat. Stretch your arms straight out to your sides, and widen your stance until your ankles are directly below your wrists. Check that your feet are parallel and that their outer edges line up with those of your mat. Root your feet firmly into the mat, and distribute your weight evenly between your big toes, pinkie toes, inner heels, and outer heels.
2. Straighten your legs, and lift your kneecaps to engage your thighs. Put your hands on your hips, draw a deep breath in, lift your chest, and start to move your heart forward and up. Gently draw your shoulder blades toward each other.
3. On an exhalation, keep your spine long as you maintain straight, but not hyperextended, legs. Continue to lengthen your torso as you begin to fold forward. (If you feel any strain in your lower back, bend your knees or come out of the pose.)
4. When your torso is about halfway down (parallel to the floor), lower your hands to bring your fingertips to the mat underneath your shoulders. Move your weight slightly forward into the balls of your feet.
5. As you continue to lower your torso, root your tailbone down toward your feet, which will engage your core muscles to stabilize your lower back. Move your thighs back slightly so that they are more in line with your ankles. Walk your hands back so your fingertips are more in line with your toes; press your palms into the mat. Let your neck and head be heavy.
6. Lengthen your torso even more, and bend your elbows to bring the crown of your head down to eventually rest on the mat. (If your head is nowhere near the floor, try widening your stance slightly.) Energetically press your hands to the mat, and spread your fingers wide. Hold for 10–15 breaths. To come out of the pose, bring your hands to your hips, press your feet firmly into the mat, and, on an inhalation, draw your elbows toward the ceiling and your belly in and up as you lift your torso.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
Don’t roll to the outer (or inner) edges of your feet, and don’t splay your elbows. Too much weight on your outer (or inner) foot could cause strain in your knees or ankles. Moving your elbows away from your midline can strain your wrists or lead to instability.
Don’t let your hips shift back past your heels. This will decrease the hamstring stretch and may lock your knees, causing strain. It also creates instability in the pose and could cause you to lose your balance.
About our Pro
Teacher and model Jenny Brill focuses on alignment-based hatha yoga, with an emphasis on humor. She’ll make you sweat up a storm and laugh out loud at the same time. A native of Los Angeles, she’s taught yoga for more than 25 years and is a regular contributor to several teacher-training programs. Her authenticity, energy, and mastery of fine-tuning alignment has created a strong community of devoted and fearless yogis.