Beginnings, endings and times of transition can be challenging. When you are filled with uncertainty, you may question if it is possible to even make it to the other side. During these times, use your Yoga asana practice to connect to the grounding energy of the earth.
The power of the earth element is its strong foundation, one that allows you to walk confidently forward despite uncertainty. In a forward fold like prasarita padottanasana, or wide-legged forward fold, you bring in this grounding energy by fixing your feet and hands firmly on the earth. As you engage the muscles in the inside and outside of your legs and buttocks, you will feel the strength of the earth from your feet all the way up your spine. Surrender and let these breaths remind you that with commitment to yourself and your practice, the stability you need to follow your truth through times of transition is always available to you.
Here at Hale Pule, we talk about asana with three designations: essence, anchor and strength. This is a simple tool to remember the intention of the pose, where your body is grounded and the muscles you engage for proper alignment. These components will support optimal energy flow and a sustainable practice throughout your life.
Prasarita padottanasana from the ground up
Be sure to allow your tailbone to initiate the forward fold.
1. Stand facing the front of the room on your mat with your feet hip width distance apart.
2. Bend your knees, turn and jump to face the right side of the room. Your feet should be about one leg length or farther apart with your toes straight ahead or slightly turned in. Lift your arches and keep the outside edges of your feet parallel to the short edges of the mat.
3. Place the sides of your thumbs at the crease of your hip joints. With active thighs, fold forward with an extended spine, keeping your hips lined up over your heels.
5. Once you’ve turned your pelvis forward beyond 90 degrees, release your head and arms toward the floor and arms, with the top of your head moving toward the floor. Your hands should rest below your shoulders with your elbows pointed straight back toward the back of your mat. Point the top of your head toward the mat and keep your thighs engaged. Breathe here for 15 to 20 breaths.
5. To release, place your thumbs to your hip creases and fully extend your spine as you come up. With engaged thighs, hips in line with your heels, come up to stand.
If you can’t place your hands flat on the ground, use your fists or blocks to bring the floor up to meet you. You can also use a block under your head to feel the lift of the sit bones can be beneficial.
Common trouble spots
Neck not in line with the spine. Avoid injury and strengthen your neck muscles by keeping your head in line with your spine.
Gripping toes. This prevents the prana from flowing and creates instability in your feet. If you find you grip your toes, bring your feet a little closer together until they are active but keep your toes relaxed.
Splayed elbows. Keep your arms active and your elbows pointed straight back to the long edge of your mat. This adjustment maintains proper shoulder position as well.
Fingers together. Spread your fingers on the floor to get a stronger foundation and open the flow of prana.
Excessive curve in back. Keep your spine fully extended all the way up to your head. This begins at your pelvis as you bend forward.
Forcing hands to reach the mat. If your knees bend in order to reach the mat, place blocks beneath your hands at whatever height you need and lift your sit bones up toward the heavens.
Feet turned out. Keep your feet parallel to the short edge of your mat.
Leaning back into heels. Keep your pelvis in line with your heels to avoid straining your hamstrings.