Applying yoga principles : Prasarita padottanasana
How to build strength and flexibility in every postures. Or how to take advantage of every postures. In yoga, just like in life in general, nothing is set, nothing is definite. We do have a tendency to categorise things, enclose everything in a box to make everything clean and clear. even though it is useful to keep concept tidy we can't be too rigid either. On one side we put away flexibility and the list of asana that goes with it, on the other side we have strength and the list of posture that are defined as strengthening. However, the reality is that one does not go without the other: the more strength you build the more flexible you will get, the more flexible you are the more strength you can build. Depending on what side you are, flexible or strong, you'll need to work on your opposite in the posture.
Prasarita padottanasana, is one of those posture we categorise as a great way to open the legs and the hips. However, if you are one of those pretzel like figure with less strength this posture turns out to be a great way to strengthen the legs, core and back.
As you build up the posture from the floor, pushing the feet and heels against the floor will automatically activate the quadriceps. As you bend forward, engaging the pelvic floor will help releasing the back of the hip but will also help floppy people to find balance and stability in the posture especially as you move deeper in the posture and start shifting your weight gently forward. Finally, keeping the integrity in the shoulders is a first baby step towards understanding arm balance and attack more challenging shoulder strengthening work like plank. Shoulders do not collapse to the ears, the neck is long and the shoulder blades are drawn away from each other in the final stage of the pose. This will create the habit of keeping the integrity of shoulder position when coming into more demanding strengthening postures like plank.
If you are naturally more strong and need to work on flexibility, follow the same queues, you will experience the posture differently as it will have a more stretchy feeling than strengthening whether it be in the legs, hips back and shoulders. But keep in mind use your strength to create flexibility. Pushing the feet into the floor has a direct effect on the pelvis. In return creating space in the pelvis by engaging the lower belly will help stretching the legs, back of the hips and back.
To do prasarita padottanasana
- Stand feet wide apart. To get the proper length, spread your arms out to the side and place the feet approximately under each wrists.
- Place the hands to the hips.
- Push the heels, the ball of the big toe and the little toe firmly against the floor. It will automatically engage the legs and the pelvic floor
- Engage the pelvic floor, suck the lower belly in and up.
- Keep the back straight, chest open, shoulders relaxed
- Breath out bend forward to a 90° angle, drawing the legs into the hips, keeping the integrity of the body
- Take another breath in, look up, expand the chest
- Breath out lower further down if you can. Don't force yourself to go all the way down, if you feel at your max half way through stay there.
- Place the hands on the legs where you feel comfortable or on the floor, finger tips in line with the toes to start with. Bend the elbows on a 90 degree angle so that the arms are perpendicular to the floor.
- If you can, place the head on the floor.
- If you feel comfortable shift the body weight slightly forward, folding deeper from the hips, using the strength in the lower belly to move deeper in the posture
- Move the hands further back with the finger in line with the heels
- To come out of the posture place the hands on the hips, lift the head up and use the strength in your legs and core to come up on the in breath.
The key points for the postures are the feet, press against the floor, keep the lower belly engaged and drawn in to fold forward, and keep the integrity of the shoulders. As usual breath effortlessly in the posture for full benefits.
Thanks for reading, enjoy the practice!