Yoga Pose of the Week: Prasarita Padottanasana


Genevieve Oswald in Prasarita Padottanasana, by Zoe Zimmerman for Sundara Studios 2013

There was a time in my life when the thought of discipline was akin to that of incarceration. You can imagine from this standpoint how incredibly uncomfortable I felt as a new student of yoga the first time I was informed that my discipline would lead to my freedom.

These days, with a bit more maturity and experience I find myself surprisingly satisfied to enjoy the multitude of freedoms I have gained from the discipline of returning to my practice, and anything else that benefits and expands as a result of my discipline.

Prasarita Padottanasana eventually reveals itself as a resting posture, like freedom eventually reveals itself through discipline.  However, when first learning a standing wide forward fold, the pose can create the feeling of anything but relaxation.

To begin, stand with feet wide, all ten toes pointing forward, inhale to gather strength in your legs lovingly hugging the skin to muscle, muscle to bone, and both legs in toward the midline. Again, inhale to lift strength from the feet up the legs into the core of your pelvis.  Exhale and hinge at your hips, lifting your sitting bones toward the sky while pouring your spine toward the floor. Place your hands on the floor shoulder distance apart, and inhale to press into your fingertips actively drawing your shoulder blades into your heart.  Exhale and extend from the core of your pelvis down and out through the crown of your head, your fingertips, and heels.

Whether you feel open or tight in this pose, disciplined muscular strength in your legs serves the stability of your pelvis, and over time this focus will lead to more freedom in the calming and relaxing stretch of your spine.

Stay as long as you like and enjoy.