Pada hastasana gives basically the same benefits as paschimottanasana. It massages and tones up the digestive organs, helping to improve digestion and eliminate ailments such as constipation.
A widespread symptom of modern living is back, neck and headache. These are generally caused by chronic stress and worry, muscular tension, displacement of vertebrae and compression of associated nerves and most commonly by a bad sitting position for extended periods of time. Pada hastasana helps to eliminate these causes and prevents pain in the spine and head. It is a particularly useful asana to do during work when these aches and pains easily arise.
Pada hastasana is veiy beneficial for relocating minor displacements of the spinal vertebrae and for releasing nerves that are pinched by slightly displaced vertebrae (as in sciatica). Simultaneously, pada hastasana strengthens the spinal muscles, this often being the cause of slipped disc. Therefore, this is a useful asana for preventing sciatica and slipped disc and also treating mild cases after they have occurred. However, one should seek guidance before attempting to treat either of these two ailments; otherwise you may do more harm than good.
Pada hastasana can be described as a semi-inverted asana. The upper part of the body is turned upside down for most of the practice, proving blood flow to the brain and improving its efficiency. Inversion of the body also improves the blood supply to the pituitary and thyroid glands. Most inverted asanas require time, preparation and a quiet place.
Pada hastasana can be practised at any time to give most of the benefits of traditional inverted asanas (though at a lesser level)2. Often during a busy work day, the blood supply to the brain can become a little sluggish. Pada hastasana helps to stimulate this blood circulation; this brings many benefits. The following are a few:
- removes fatigue and brings vitality
- improves concentration
- improves metabolic process of the body (by acting on the thyroid and pituitaiy)
- helps to decongest the nose
To gain these benefits, repeat stages 2 and 4 one after the other for a few minutes. This will allow sufficient time for the extra blood to flow to the head.
Pada hastasana brings many other benefits. It stretches the leg muscles, tones up the sexual organs and glands and so forth.