We’re still talking about the standing asanas. Half lotus pose gets introduced. This alone is a challenge. Most people in the Western world are not used to sit on the floor comfortably. Not enough. It’s combined with a forward fold. This turns the asana also into a balancing pose. We face three challenges: half lotus, forward fold and balancing. In addition the hand shall hold the foot.
I thought I’d never master this pose. I did. Lotus pose was easy for me. I had difficulties to reach the foot with my hand. One day I found out that I could twist in order to reach the foot. Then I can return to the original position. Then I could bend forward. The pose was mastered. In the beginning I felt dizzy when I came out of the pose. This faded away with time.
Important is to put the hand firmly on the floor. It helps to turn it inwardly. This gives even more stability.
Later in the first Ashtanga yoga series comes an easier variation. It’s the same form but it’s performed while sitting. It’s called: Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana.
When performing this asana the balancing challenge goes to zero. That’s why this asana is a good preparation for the standing variation.
There are quite a lot asanas that have the same form but have another orientation. Some are exercised while standing others while sitting or lying on the back.
Easier variations for Ardha baddha padmottanasana are when putting both hands on the floor.
Knowing easier variations and more demanding ones can deepen the understanding of an asana. It allows to practice more flexible if necessary.