Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Fold Pose)

Iyengar's difficulty rating: 4* out of 60*

Iyengar's Technique:

  1. Stand in Tadasana.
  2. On an inhale, place your hands on your waist and step or jump your legs apart 4.5 to 5 feet.
  3. Tighten your quadriceps and draw your kneecaps up. On an exhale, fold forward at your hip joints and place your palms on the floor directly beneath your shoulders.
  4. Inhale and lift your gaze. Maintain spinal extension (keep your back concave and your chest lifting forward and up).
  5. On an exhale, bend your elbows and rest the crown of your head on the floor, keeping weight in your legs. Adjust your head and palms so that they are directly between your feet (feet, palms, and head in a straight line).
  6. Remain in this pose for 30 seconds. Breathe deeply and evenly.
  7. To exit, inhale, raise your head from the floor, and straighten your arms as you return to Step #4.
  8. Exhale and stand, returning to Step #2.
  9. Jump back to Tadasana.

Comparing Forms:

  • Iyengar's stance is wider than mine, and his femurs are more internally rotated. Internal rotation of the femurs helps broaden the back of the pelvis, permitting deeper forward folds without rounding the spine. However, excessive internal rotation may increase the potential for irritation at the hamstring attachments, hip labrum, and ankles. I have chosen relatively neutral femurs for this shot, meaning a clear balance between internal and external rotation.
  • Iyengar has tucked his chin towards his chest in order to place the back of his head on the floor. I have placed the crown of my head down and am emphasizing length and release in the neck.
  • My hands are not where Iyengar's instructions suggest - on a straight line between the feet. Instead, I have moved my hands back behind my heels. This allows me to maintain 90-degree angles in my shoulders and elbows, and also keeps my elbows from splaying out. These choices decrease tension in my neck and upper back.