Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend, Prasarita Padottanasana, (prah-suh-REE-tuh pah-doh-tahn-AH-suh-nuh)
prasarita (spread or expanded) + pada (foot or leg) + ut (intense) + tan (stretch) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Prasarita Padottanasana
Pose Type: Balancing, Stretching, Strengthening, Standing
Tune into your breath and use gravity to your advantage as you deepen into a Wide Legged Forward Fold and increase your flexibility
Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend Fundamentals
Boost your flexibility, take root, and invert in this intense forward bend.
The Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend Pose is a forward bend, hip opener, and a mild inversion in one.
The full expression of the pose may be challenging for beginners, but you have full control of how deep you want to go. For this reason, you can try the pose regardless of how long you’ve been practicing yoga.
Prasarita Padottanasana is a fantastic preparatory pose for even deeper forward folds and hip openers. It may also warm you up for more challenging inversions, such as Tripod Headstand Pose.
The pose isn’t mentioned in the old yogic texts and first started appearing in the 20th century.
The renowned yoga guru Krishnamacharya mentioned it in his book Yoga Makaranda. Later it was implemented in the styles of his two most famous students – Patthabi Jois and BKS Iyengar.
Consequently, you can expect to practice a version of this pose in Ashtanga, Iyengar and Vinyasa yoga.
Iyengar mentioned the pose in his famous book Light on Yoga, where he offered a translation and a straightforward explanation of the asana: “Prasarita means expanded, spread, extended. Pada means a foot. The pose is one where the expanded legs are stretched intensely.”
In Ashtanga yoga, you will encounter the pose in the very first series, where you will go through four variations of Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend Pose.
The base will stay the same, but the arm position varies, which will also slightly change the effect the pose has on your upper body.
Although this pose is often included in the beginning portion of yoga classes as a preparation for inversions and deeper stretches, it can also be included in the cool-down.
It releases tension and stress from the body, which brings a sense of calm that may help prepare you for meditation.
Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend & Energetics
Energetically, the pose works on the three lower chakras – Root, Sacral, and Solar Plexus.
Working on these energetic centers govern your sense of identity and connection to the world, and keeping them balanced will help you feel stable, secure, confident, and creative.
Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend Benefits
- Stretches and lengthens the inner thighs, hamstrings, outer ankles, glutes, and spine.
- Strengthens the inner ankles, quadriceps, calf muscles, and core.
- Boosts blood circulation to the head and upper body, which may help calm your mind, and release tension from the neck and shoulders.
- It contracts the abdominal muscles, which massages the internal organs, and may aid with digestion.
- Helps relieve mild sciatica and low back pain.
How To Do Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Begin in Mountain Pose. Open your leg out to the side to face the wider end of your mat. Keep your feet around 3 to 4 feet apart, as you would for Triangle Pose.
2. With your hands on your waist, begin bending forward. Initiate the forward fold from your hips rather than rounding the back.
3. Place your hands on the floor at shoulder-width apart. Use the resistance of your hands to move deeper into the forward fold.
4. Reach your head toward the floor – you can rest it on the ground if it reaches, but that isn’t necessary.
5. Keep all corners of your feet glued to the ground and activate your leg muscles.
6. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then use the strength of your legs and core to slowly raise back up to a standing position.
7. Return to Mountain Pose or try entering a different variation of the Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend. You can find some options in the variations section of this article.
Tips And Tricks:
- It’s important to find a sweet spot with foot placement—the wider your legs are, the deeper you will be able to fold, but if you step them too wide you may lose your stability.
- The stance will also differ depending on your height, so try not to compare yourself to others and find what works for you.
- If you feel discomfort in the back of your legs or your lower back, bend your knees as much as you need.
- Press your hands on the hip bones and fold forward from that spot, to make sure you’re not rounding the back or bending from the waist.
- Try to keep your spine as straight as you can. As soon as your spine begins to round, stop bending.
- Keep your weight evenly distributed throughout all four corners of the feet.
- Keep your legs engaged and don’t lock the knees.
Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend Variation:
Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend Variation: Different Hand Placements
In Ashtanga yoga, you will move through four different variations of the pose, but you can also choose only one depending on what you like best.
The Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend described in this article is traditionally called Prasarita Padottanasana A. The other variations change the hand placement and include:
- B variation – Keep your hands on your hips and draw your elbows backward when you come into the fold.
- C variation – interlace your fingers behind your back and raise your arms up and overhead as you go into the fold. You can also grab opposite elbows.
- D variation– First enter Prasarita Padottanasana A. Then grab your ankles or toes with your hands and bend your elbows to move deeper into the twist.
Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend Variation: With Blocks
If you have tight hamstrings or struggle to reach your hands to the ground with a straight back, you can use blocks for aid.
Put blocks in front of your body, and place your hands on the blocks instead of the floor when you fold forward.
Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend Variation: Tripod Headstand
More advanced students may decide to enter Tripod Headstand from this pose. Do so only if headstand is already in your practice and if you are able to place the head on the floor in the forward bend.
Forming a triangle with your hands and head just as you would for the Tripod Headstand, use core strength to lift your legs off the ground and slowly bring them together as you reach full inversion.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Rounding the back. Rounding the back with the intention to reach the head to the ground will be counterproductive. Instead, hinge from the hips, and go only as deep as you can with a flat back.
Sinking into the heels. When you fold forward, you could notice you lean back and place too much weight in your heels. Instead, bring your weight forward to ensure you’re managing it equally through all corners of the feet.
Injuries and Conditions
Avoid practicing the pose if you have an injury or any other issue related to the pelvis, spine, and hamstrings. You may also want to refrain from the pose or consult a physician if you have high or low blood pressure.
Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend
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