Pose of the Week: Wide Leg Forward Fold

(prasarita padottanasana)

(from mountain middle of mat, facing long edge of mat)
Take a wide stance—arms parallel to floor, ankles under wrists.
Point big toes straight ahead. Make outer heels widest part of pose or outer edge of feet parallel to short edge of mat.

Place hands on floor between feet—hands shoulder-width apart; round back evenly, place head between hands (more doable: place hands under shoulders, straighten arms, bend knees slightly).
Lean forward slightly so legs are straight up and down.

Press inner edges of feet down; flare toes.
Tone thighs, tighten kneecaps, firm hamstrings.

Press tailbone down, low belly in.
Press hands down, forward—feet down, back.
Minimize rounding in low back.
Do not put any weight on head.

“Round back evenly” applies to all forward folds. Once the back is evenly rounded, hinge at hips. It’s common for students to overly round a given section of their spine, often to compensate for tight hips or hamstrings. Tight hamstrings do not need compensation. Tight hamstrings need pose modification. Douglas Brooks says, “Yoga is not a problem to be solved but a paradox to be embraced.” In yogahour, tight muscles are not viewed as a problem, period. Students with flexible hamstrings and long torsos will need to shorten their stance to get their head on the floor between feet. Students with flexible hamstrings and a short torso can place the back of their head on the floor. Students with low blood pressure need to come out of standing poses more slowly—stage by stage. In this pose they can straighten their arms, pause, then slowly come back to standing. Issues such as low blood pressure, however, are usually not addressed during a public yogahour class. Such information can be given to a student quickly via a personal verbal instruction. If more communication is required, it can be done after class. Do your best to resolve any issue a student might have in their practice before, during, or after class. If you don’t know the answer, refer them to someone who does, such as another teacher or health professional.