The Wide Legged Forward Fold, or Prasarita Padottanasana, is a fold forward yoga bend that targets the lower body and can help you increase flexibility without putting pressure on your neck.

Many people have praised the sensations this pose brings, as you let gravity release your into a deep forward fold and stretch your hips, hamstrings, and adductors.

Wide Legged Forward Fold Basics

If you do this yoga forward bend correctly, you should feel your feet stand on four corners: your inner and outer heel, your big toe, and your pinkie toe.

As you lift your inner and outer arches, you will also feel a lift traveling upwards your upper body through your leg muscles. 

Benefits of the Wide Legged Forward Fold

Benefits-of-the-Wide-Legged-Forward-Fold

This yoga pose can increase flexibility, help oxygenate the blood to your brain, improve your nervous system, sitting bones, control high blood pressure, and doesn’t put any bearing stress on your neck.

The Wide Legged Forward Fold or Prasarita Padottanasana also stretches your hamstrings and calves, upper back, spine, adductors, hips, arms, and groin if you shift from side to side. This forward bend has many benefits and can help keep your legs active.

This standing pose is calming and can also help relieve mild backaches. You can also use yoga blocks to further work your tight hamstrings.

Because the Wide Legged Forward Bend is so light on the neck, it can replace more taxing poses like Sirsasana (Headstand).

Wide Legged Forward Fold: Step-by-step Instructions

  1. You should begin this yoga pose in Tadasana or Mountain Pose. 
  2. Set your feet 3 or 4 feet apart and place your hands on your hips. Make sure your feet are well placed on the ground, your knees stretched, and take a few breaths to get ready. 
  3. Slowly, lift your torso and begin folding forward over your legs. Make sure you’re bending from your hip joints and not your lower back.
  4. Touch the floor with your hands and stretch your torso forward. 
  5. Bring your head towards the floor and fold deeper. Make sure your feet are well anchored (the outer edges firm on the floor), elbows pointing outwards, shoulder blades open, and firm your leg and inner thigh muscles. Relax your spinal column.
  6. Stay in this position for five slow breaths. Strengthen your arms and your spine forward. 
  7. Inhale and lift up to standing slowly. Come back to Tadasana or Mountain Pose.

Common Mistakes of Wide Legged Forward Bend

Common-Mistakes-of-Wide-Legged-Forward-Bend

There are four common mistakes when doing the Wide Legged Forward Bend. You should avoid these if you want to enjoy all the pose benefits.

  • The first one is pulling the top of your head towards the knees, which creates an excessively rounding thoracic curve in your upper body.

    Make sure you keep your legs and spine straight, your shoulder blades and back muscles stretched, and your elbows point outward.

    Think instead of this pose as “heart to the knee” rather than “head to the knee”.
     
  • The second mistake is thinking that your knees need always to be straight. This is not an intense stretch pose, so it’s okay to bend them slightly; you won’t be making a lesser version of this forward bend. If you are uncomfortable with one pose, you can try other variations too.

  • The third is overarching your back when you are bending forward. Many people bend as if holding almost a backbend.

    Make sure you don’t exaggerate this motion so you can protect your upper back, lower abdomen, ankles, and hamstrings against tearing. 

  • Lastly, you might be tempted to lift your chin too much when doing this forward bend, compressing the back of your neck and putting more pressure on your head.

    It’s always better to lift your eyes rather than your chin. This will help you with many other yoga poses as well. 

Variations of Wide Legged Forward Bend

There are four variations of Wide Legged Forward Bend or Prasarita Padottanasana: A, B, C, and D. 

Wide Legged Forward Bend or Prasarita Padottanasana A

  • From standing, set one leg back with your feet 3 to 5 feet apart.
  • Turn to the side and bring your feet parallel or turn them slightly in, pressing on the ground.
  • Place your hands on your hips. Exhale and bend forward with a long spine.
  • Bring your fingertips or palms to the floor and walk them back until they align with your feet.
  • Bend your elbows straight back to come deeper into the forward fold. The back of your neck and your hamstrings should remain extended. 
  • Let the low back release and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Touch the crown of your head to the floor.
  • Hold the yoga pose for five slow full breaths.

Wide Legged Forward Bend or Prasarita Padottanasana B:

  • Start in the Tadasana pose. Set your feet wide apart 3 to 4 feet.
  • Rest your hands on your hips. With feet parallel to each other, turn your toes in slightly.
  • Lift your inner arches. Inhale and lift your chest.
  • Exhale, draw the abdomen in and fold forward from the hip creases.
  • Keep the hands on your hips and squeeze the elbows back towards each other.
  • Hold the yoga pose for five slow full breaths.

Wide Legged Forward Bend or Prasarita Padottanasana C

  • Start in the center of the mat while facing the long end of it. 
  • Inhale and set your feet wide apart 3 to 4 feet in a wide legged standing.
  • Turn your arms behind you, interlocking your fingers. Press down, exhale, and hinge forward at the hips allowing your arms to come overhead. 
  • Pull your belly in and press your chest and face inwards. 
  • Hold the yoga pose for five slow full breaths.
  • Exhale as you come up with a flat back.

Wide Legged Forward Bend or Prasarita Padottanasana D

  • Start in the center of the mat while facing the long end. 
  • Inhale and set your feet wide apart 3 to 4 feet.
  • Inhale, lift your chest. Exhale, come down slowly, hinging from the hips.
  • Slowly come down until you can grab your toes, shins, or thighs. 
  • Bend your elbows to come deeper into the forward fold. 
  • Hold the yoga pose for five slow full breaths.

How To Teach Wide Legged Forward Bend

To protect your yoga students from injury and help them achieve the best Wide Legged Forward Fold or Prasarita Padottanasana pose, make sure you never force the forward bend.

There is no benefit to rounding your torso just so you can get your fingers on the floor. Make sure you help shorter people find a stance that is not too wide and pushes their hamstrings excessively. 

Accessories for Prasarita Padottanasana

You can use the following accessories to help you fold deeper:

Conclusion

The Wide Legged Forward Bend or Prasarita Padottanasana is one of the best beginner-friendly preparatory poses that can help you stretch your legs, ankles, hips, spine, hamstrings, and adductors and increase flexibility without putting any pressure on your neck.

You can also try this yoga fold forward pose if you are plus size. You can try the pose on the floor using a yoga mat and practice the different common variations to find the one that best fits your personal goals.


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