Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose is an intermediate yoga posture that stretches the backs of your legs while challenging your balance. It is a great preparatory pose for deeper hamstring stretches, such as Standing Split (Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana) and Monkey Pose (Hanumanasana).
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. Do not practice this pose if you have a recent or chronic ankle or low back injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
How To Do The Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana : Step-by-Step Instructions
- Begin standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet together and arms at your sides. Breathe deeply and draw your awareness to the present moment. Let your mind be calm.
- Shift your weight to your left foot. Very slowly, draw your right knee up toward your chest. Bring your right arm to the inside of your right thigh. Then loop your index and middle fingers around your right foot’s big toe. Place your left hand on your left hip.
- Straighten your spine. Strongly engage your abdominal muscles and the muscles of your left leg. Straighten your left leg, but do not lock your knee.
- On an exhalation, extend your right leg forward. Straighten your right leg as much as possible.
- Keep both hips squared forward and keep your spine straight. Do not scrunch your neck or shoulders; keep them soft and relaxed.
- Drop your right hip slightly so it is in line with your left hip. Bring your awareness to your midline — the line that runs directly down the center of your body.
- Hold for 5-20 breaths. To release, draw your knee back into your chest, then slowly lower your foot to the floor. Come back to Mountain Pose. Then repeat on the opposite side for the same amount of time.
- It’s more important to keep your spine straight and your shoulders relaxed than it is to straighten your lifted leg. You can keep your lifted leg bent, or use a strap if you need to, but be sure your spine stays tall and upright throughout the pose.
- Be sure to use a strap and make any other adjustments you need to ensure that you’re not pushing yourself too hard in this pose. Be patient. You will gain flexibility in time.
- Keep the knee and foot of your standing leg facing directly forward.
- Focus on the stretch, not on the lift! It doesn’t matter how high your leg goes if you don’t have correct alignment. Work toward maintaining an equal balance of energy and effort in both legs.
- Take it slowly and don’t be afraid to fall! If you do fall, simply get back into the pose and try again.
You can hold this pose longer by supporting the raised-leg foot on the top edge of a chair back (padded with a blanket). Set the chair an inch or two from a wall and press your raised heel firmly to the wall.
Modifications & Variations
Try these simple changes to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- If you cannot reach the toes of your raised leg, practice Standing Knee Hug until you have gained more flexibility.
- If you cannot straighten your lifted leg while keeping your spine straight, try using a strap instead of your fingers. Wrap a yoga strap around the ball of your foot. Hold the strap in your same-side hand and then straighten your leg.
- To support the lifted leg as you gain strength and flexibility, rest your raised foot along the top edge of a chair, table, or ballet barre. You can also press the raised foot against a wall.
- To deepen the pose, fold your torso forward toward your lifted leg.
Benefits Of The Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
Hand to Toe Pose is a challenging and invigorating balance posture with many benefits:
- Stretches hamstrings and hips
- Stretches adductors
- Strengthens back and arm muscles
- Improves sense of balance
- Calms the mind and improves focus
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana will stretch your legs and boost your balance! This powerful pose will provide your practice with a mental and physical challenge. Remember to take it slowly, and be sure to modify the pose as needed. With practice, your flexibility and your ability to balance will improve.