|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 101 ]
In the Sanskrit language pada means "foot" and hasta refers to the hand (or arm). Therefore this asana is called the "hand to foot pose."
The are many practices that use this same name, where the hands are lowered toward the feet in various ways - some where the palms are placed onto the floor either in front of or beside the feet; others where the ankles or heels are grasped; and further still where the big toes are held, which is called padangusha asana.
Note: It is imperative that the legs remain straight within this pose. As many suffer from a great deal of inflexibility in the legs, back and hips, this can be difficult in the beginning. To start, you may rest your hands gently upon your ankles or thighs, or as far as you are able to stretch downwards without bending your knees.
- Stand erect in sama sthiti asana with your feet parallel and slightly apart (about 5–10cm).
- Inhale and, in a wide circling motion, extend the arms high overhead, with the palms open and facing forward.
- Exhale and bend forward at the hips, keeping your arms extended throughout the movement, finishing with your upper torso and arms hanging straight downward.
- Inhale slowly, draw the head and neck forward (look up) and lengthen the spine.
- Exhale and relax the head, neck and spine downwards, fixing your fingers and palms firmly under your toes and the balls of your feet.
- To come out of the pose, release your hands from beneath the feet, straighten your arms, inhale and slowly come back up to standing, with the arms extended overhead.
- Bring your palms together, exhale, lower the hands back down and relax in sama sthiti asana.
Effects and Benefits
The benefits of padahasta asana are numerous. In this asana, there is great emphasis on the flow of blood to the head, without the difficulties presented in other postures which also do so, such as the headstand.
The abdominal organs are compressed and the liver and spleen stimulated. Conditions of bloating of the abdomen and other gastric troubles can be greatly alleviated with this pose. The compression within pada hasta asana tones the abdominal organs and helps remedy constipation, indigestion and sciatica too.
This asana makes the spine resilient, straight and flexible, thus adding to youthful vigour. It also improves circulation of the blood throughout the body and in particular stretches and energises the muscles of the back.
Pada hasta asana also helps to free the passage of apana vayu, the aspect of prana which governs the lower intestinal-rectal area. This is the energy behind the excretory functions of the kidney/bladder and colon-rectum.
It purifies and strengthens susumna nadi, the central channel of pranic flow along the spinal column, and creates a feeling of lightness by dispelling tamas (inertness)...
The contents of this web page are intended for informational purposes only. One should not engage in any yoga practices based solely upon the directions given on this web page or any other page of this web site. Anyone atempting to perform any of the yoga exercises introduced on this website assumes full responsibility and does so at their own risk.
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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