Usually it is very difficult, if not impossible, to find a suitable place for asana practice during a busy workday. Moreover, it is not possible to continually carry a blanket around. Here we describe pada hastasana and three of its variations: pada angushthasana, utthita janu sirshasana and dynamic pada hastasana. These asanas can be practised at any time and place without the slightest preparation. They are all forward bending asanas; in fact they can be best described as standing variations of paschimottanasana1. They are all ideal for loosening up the spine, removing aches and pains in the back, neck and head and for removing fatigue.
Pada Hastasana (Hand To Foot Or Forward Bending Pose)
The Sanskrit word pada means ‘foot’ and the word hasta means ‘hand’. Therefore, the exact English translation is ‘foot-hand pose’. It is an asana in which the hands are placed on or near the feet. The asana is also widely called ‘the forward bending asana’ for obvious reasons.
There are five stages.
Stage 1: starting position
Place the feet together.
Let the arms relax and hang beside the body.
Try to relax the whole body, while breathing normally.
Then proceed to stage 2.
Stage 2: the forward bend
While slowly exhaling bend the body forwards.
Firstly let the head bend forwards without muscular effort.
Then let the trunk progressively bend forwards.
Let the arms remain limp through the forward bend so that they dangle vertically towards the floor.
While bending try to imagine that your body has no bones or muscles.
At the end of exhalation, your head and trunk should point towards the floor.
You should try to let your head hang as closely as possible to the knees, but without any strain.
Remain immobile in this position and breathe normally a number of times.
Then proceed to stage 3.