Prasarita Padottanasana: My least favourite asana

I would like to talk about the asana 'Prasarita Padottanasana'. I am choosing this asana not because I like it, but because it’s one of my least favourite! Since I started practicing Yoga i have always found this asana particularly difficult, and one of the reasons why I have been attracted to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the fact there is a sequence which means I can't avoid these asanas which I otherwise probably would.

I believe there are two main reasons why I find this asana difficult. The first is that my hamstrings are not so flexible; they have always been my Achilles heel, partly due to my childhood activities where I played a lot of football, and more recently due to my cycling 16,000kms across Asia and Europe.. Which certainly hasn't helped my hamstrings, hips or upper back! Although after practicing the asana the other day with Acharya I realised that another reason is because of the way I have been practicing it. With my Ashtanga teacher we are told to have our feet much closer together and to keep our back straight. Hence I never really feel like I'm doing the pose and haven't seen so much improvement. In regards to this asana I much prefer Acharyas approach of keeping the legs further (5ft) apart. I feel a much more even stretch along my hamstrings and it’s considerably easier to place the crown of my head on the ground, so I feel much more grounded in the pose. However, the only thing is because of the mat I'm using at the shala at the moment , my feet slowly start to spread further apart while I'm in the pose. I usually practice with a Cork mat and then don't tend to have this issue.

There are several benefits to practicing this asana regularly. An obvious one is that it stretches the hamstring and abductor muscles evenly. Also, as it requires an element of balancing once in the final position it can be used as preparation for Sirsasana, and as the head is completely on the ground similar effects to Sirsasana can be found. This asana also increases digestive power, and can be used to treat headaches or fatigue.

Aspects of the asana to be conscious of:

  1. While coming down in the pose keep the elbows straight before finally bending the elbows and placing the crown of the head on the floor.

  2. The feet, hands and head should be in a line

  3. Curve the spine and keep the hips a little back

  4. Relax the knees a little while in the final position

Method:

  1. Stand in Samasthihi

  2. Move right foot then left foot 2 1/2 ft. apart. (Distance will chance slightly depending on height of practitioner)

  3. Bring arms to the side parallel to ground

  4. Inhaling slowly raise your arms

  5. Exhaling and with your palms facing down and keeping your elbows straight, slowly place your palms on the floor, making sure they are in line with shoulders.

  6. Inhale, briefly look forward

  7. Exhale and place the crown of your head in between your hands make sure feet, hands and head are in a line, and your hips are not forward.

  8. Stay in the pose 2-3 mins

  9. Exhale, lift head slightly and inhaling slowly raise arms up

  10. Exhale slowly move arms down to side and bring feet (right first) together and return to Samasthihi

 

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