How to Do Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose in Yoga (Guide to Prasarita Padottanasana)

Wide-Legged Forward Bend is a three-fold asana (pun intended) that can be classed as a forward fold (spinal flexion and backbody stretch), hip-opener, and an inversion. With the right modifications and appropriate props, this pose can be adapted to yogis of all backgrounds and levels of flexibility.

“Wide-Legged Forward Bend is a thing of beauty,” says Yoga Answered contributor Cat Harvey. “No matter the level of yoga experience, everyone could benefit from adding this pose to their practice.”

Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Prasarita Padottanasana
Pose Type: Forward Bend Yoga Poses, Hip-Opening Yoga Poses, Standing Yoga Poses, Strengthening Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose, Intermediate pose
Targets: Hamstrings, hips, and groin
Benefits: From a physical standpoint, this asana provides a great stretch to the back of the legs (including gluteal muscles) and lower back. It improves hip mobility, both in terms of hip flexor strength and inner hip flexibility. As a gentle inversion, it’s a great opportunity to gather your thought and calm your mind.
Preparatory Poses: Standing Forward Bend, Seated Wide-Legged Forward Bend, Bound Angle pose

How to Do Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Start in the standing position. Face the long edge of your mat and separate your feet about 3-4 feet apart. Soften in the knees and turn the toes slightly inward to stop the feet from sliding apart.
  2. Bring your hands to your hips and pull the elbows back, opening the chest and lengthening through the spine in the process. Take a breath in.
  3. As you exhale, begin folding at the hip, reaching down through the center of your chest.
  4. With every inhale, take a pause to keep lengthening through the spine. With every exhale, allow the body to move deeper into the fold. Once you’ve gone as far as the body will allow you, release your hands from the hips and place your palms on the ground.
  5. With your hands shoulder-width apart, you may rest your palms on the ground directly under the shoulders. For a deeper fold, step your hands in line with the feet, pressing the heel of the palm firmly into the floor, and bending the elbows towards the space behind you. Or simply grab the outside of your ankles. You may rest the crown of your head on the ground if it can easily reach down without straining your back of legs.
  6. Stay here for 3-5 breaths. To exit, lengthen the spine forward (parallel to the ground), shift the hands back to the hip, and engage your core to lift the torso upright again.

Beginner’s Tip

This pose can feel very uncomfortable in the beginner practice, but it’s possible to adjust it to accommodate such discomfort. First of all, you don’t have to fold very far. It’s perfectly acceptable to stop the fold at the halfway point where the body is parallel to the ground. If you struggle to reach the floor, rest your hands on a pair of blocks. You can even stack 2-3 blocks on top of each other to give you a taller yet steady base. Wide-Legged Forward Bend can invoke a very intense sensation in your hamstrings and groin, so make sure to adjust accordingly. Feel free to keep a micro bend in the knees to protect your sciatic nerve or narrow your stance if you feel a painful pull in the groin area.

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