Padahastasana - Hands to Feet
Ethymology and Synonyms
Pada (पाद pāda): foot, quarter, post, step, word, ray or beam of light, foot or root of a tree, ray, wheel, column, pillar. Hasta (हस्ता hastā): hands, formed with the hands, position of the hand, belonging to an elephant, elephant's trunk. Note: The Sanskrit root pad- brought the Indo-European roots *ped-/pod- from which we have the latin pēs, the greek πώς, French pied and English foot and podiatry. In contrast, the Sanskrit word hasta did not generate Indo-European terms.
The hand to feet posture present several sequences. These poses appear easy when observed however this is not true. As for all postures the final phase is an in-depth internal work. In addition, the last sequence requires unusual amount of strength to be executed correctly.
Standing up, eyes open, arms along the body, the practitioner begins with several breathings in order to focus. Then, while exhaling, the trunk goes down and the hands come toward the feet. If the lumbar flexibility is sufficient, the fingers slide under the toes, in order to close the posture and establish an energetic circuit. The legs remain stretched, the eyes are closed and the feet are slightly spread apart.
The muscles of the neck are relaxed as if the head could go loose. There is a letting-go that is not only physical but also mental.
Once the posture taken, the focus is on Ajna (forehead center). The initial breathing phase emphasizes the full-lung retention with intense Mula Bandha. The second phase lets the breathing go loose and focuses on observing both breathing and a total immobility.
During the observation phase, the attention remains on the glabella point (inner feeling) as well as on the skin hanging over it (outer feeling).
Finally, after an exhalation, upon a full inhalation, the body progressively and slowly goes back to the initial standing position. During the straightening, the focus is on the point that is felt as going up. The arms follow this progression and are stretched upward. The perception of the glabella point is such that the body goes up following it.
End the inhalation in the standing position, straight and with the arms stretched elbows flexed upwards. In this position, the position is held in full-lung retention with glabella focus. One must note that while the body is stretched with the help of the arms and hands stretched upwards, the heels remain on the ground: the purpose of the posture is not about balance.
During the full-lung retention, the observation is on the effects of the light in the inner vision and on the quality of the energy in the whole sphere of the head. The sensation can literally be tasted. Finally, during the following exhalation, lower the arms along the body and let the breathing come back to normal. End the sequence by the integration pose.
This series starts as the first one. Then, according to the flexibility, the hands grasp either the calves or the heels and are used as a level to bring the head to the knees. The focus on the glabella point with eyelids closed remains the same, as well as the breathing and the locks.
However, this series emphasizes intensity rather than length.
Here, one must be attentive to reach the final position with caution and according the the bodys progress.
In this series, the feet are together in the beginning. The hands are placed on the ground, near the feet. During an exhalation, one leg is raised backward while remaining extended. The inner word (concentration and gestures) are those of series 1. During an exhalation, the leg is brought back to the initial position, and the breathing is brought to normal. The position is then repeated with the other leg.
In this series, the eyelids remain open. The feet are slightly spread apart. During an exhalation, the trunk leans forward until the hands come into contact with the ground in front of the feet. The energies are mobilized in that posture. Then, during an exhalation, a leg is stretched sideway with the hand on top of it and accompanying it. The leg comes into the final position which is perpendicular to the supporting one. In the final position, the breathing, focus, and willpower continue. During an exhalation, the leg comes back to the ground, and the breathing is brought back to normal. The posture is then applied on the other leg. This series allows the development of Icha (the power of will), the tattva तत्त्व associated to Sadāśiva (सदा शिव - eternal aspect of divinity). This quality of the energy transcends muscular strength.