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Prasarita Padottanasana

Prasarita Padottanasana: (Wide-Stance Forward Bend): Expanded legs are stretched intensely in this posture: Posture Type = Symmetrical

Prasarita = spread, expanded; Pada = foot; Uttan = intense stretch out

Method

Step 1: Stand with your feet wide apart (4.5 to 5 feet). Make sure you have the right grip, with your heels firmly grounded to the floor; otherwise the feet will slide apart and lose the grip.

Step 2: Your palms are on the waist; toes are parallel to the floor and heels are slightly away from each other; stretch the arch of the feet to strengthen your arch and the grip of the feet.

Step 3: Lengthen your body, by lifting it up towards the ceiling and then slightly reclining backwards (feet fixed to the floor and legs straight) with an inhalation. Each and every part of your body is active and alert.

Step 4: Maintaining the length of the body, slightly push your abdomen into your hips with exhalation and allow your hips to protrude out, while at the same time you start to bend forward with prolonged exhalation.

Step 5: Let the forward bending be a very slow and smooth process.

Step 6: Half way into the bend, you should feel your hamstrings getting completely involved in the stretch. You can choose to press your feet firmly on the floor and slide your heels slightly away from each other to get a better grip and a better balance.

Step 7: In this position, your spine will be in concave position with your hips out and hip bones up facing the ceiling, hips internally rotated, your lumber spine dropping to the floor and your upper back, chest and head moving towards the ceiling. Keep the back of the neck long.  Maintain the firmness of the body through out with normal breathing.

Step 8: Exhale and place your palms in between your feet. Palms are shoulder width apart.  Press your palms firmly on the floor, lengthen your arms, slightly move your shoulders to the back with your shoulder blades sliding to the hips and raise your head up (you have again created a concave back but this time with your palms on the floor). This will lengthen the spine to its fullest. Hold the position for 10 seconds with normal breathing.

Step 9: Begin to bend your elbows with control, then push them towards your legs and place the crown of the head on the floor in between your palms. Your legs, palms and head are in one line now.

Step 10: Make sure that the body weight is equally distributed throughout your body.

Step 11: Be there for 20-30 seconds with normal / deep breathing.

Step 12: Slowly revert back to the initial position of the posture by pressing the palms firmly on the floor;  inhaling and raising your head up towards the ceiling; hold for a few seconds here; then place your palms on the waist; and slowly come back to the standing position in a controlled manner with inhalation.

Benefits

  • Runners: This posture works exclusively on stretching your gluteal muscles, the hamstrings, the groin & some of the adductor muscles. Regular practice will help ease tension in these areas and gradually release the stiffness caused due to constant movement of legs. The optimal flexibility acquired, will then increase the fluidity, range of motion and help tackle many other problems (back stiffness, knee pain etc.) which has its source in tight glute. Similarly, hamstrings which have a tendency of getting stiffer due to age and also due to regimented running, will have more fluidity, adding to the running efficiency.
  • Strong Lower extremityLeg muscles are toned and strengthened. Develops and strengthens the ligaments and muscles of the feet, knees, legs and hips.
  • Desk bound lifestyle:  People who are desk bound for hours are constantly sitting with their hips & thighs locked in one particular position. Constant sitting for hours, over a period of time, eventually shortens the hamstrings and makes them passive. Prasarita Padottanasana practice will help reduce pressure and heaviness in the pelvic and abdominal regions caused by prolonged standing or sitting and also bring all the benefits mentioned under the benefits of runners.
  • Back Strengthening: The concave position with palms on the floor helps ease stiffness, thereby strengthening your back and is recommended in case of sciatica & slip disc. However, make sure that you do not drop your head down towards the floor in case of slip disc & sciatica or severe back pain.
  • Benefits of Inversion: Placing the head on the floor in between the palms helps direct blood flow towards head. This brings the many benefits of sirsasana, to the practitioner.
  • Reproductive Organs / PCOS:  Prasarita Padottanasana directs oxygen rich blood to the pelvic region and thus rejuvenating reproductive organs. This asan is helpful in restoring balance, in case of, hormonal imbalance in women suffering from PCOS.
  • Pregnancy: This posture is recommended during pregnancy as well. It stretches and widens the pelvic region; relieves morning sickness and nausea especially when your forehead is resting on the seat of a chair for support, it relaxes and calms your body as well as your mind.
  • Fatigue / Headache / Migraine: Forward bending is recommended for its ability to calm one down.  Prasarita Padotanasana, being a forward bending posture, is calming and soothing to the nervous system. It dispels fatigue and refreshes the brain. This pose can be helpful in relieving depression and stress related headaches and migraines.

Contraindications

  • Do not place your head down on the floor in case of any back problems.
    If you have low blood pressure, come out of the posture gradually, to avoid dizziness.
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