Yoga Poses

Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose Variation /Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

Steps

The Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose variation is similar to the classic Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe pose A. Known as the Utthita Hasta Padangustasana B in the Ashtanga primary series, this pose classifies under intermediate standing postures. Beginners attempting this pose would find it slightly difficult to grip their fingers around their toes, without hunching the back or losing balance. The Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe pose consists of three variations in the Ashtanga Vinyasa series. All three poses are practised one after the other. It starts with the classic extended hand-to-Toe pose, with the leg extended forward, known as Utthita Hasta Padangustasana A, and is followed by the variations B and C. The pose we will be delving deep into is pose B of this standing pose variation.

To practice this pose, stand tall and strong in Tadasana, with feet steady and balanced. Fix the gaze with a point ahead, one that corresponds with the eye level. This will help keep the balance, while in the pose. Slowly shift the weight of the body to the left leg and bring the right leg close to the belly. The left hand is on the left hip. Interlock the two fingers of the right hand between the big toe of the right foot. Inhale and extend the leg horizontal to the ground, while stretching right arm. Then, bring the extended right leg to the right side, opening the right hip. Once steady and balanced in the pose, shift gaze and head to the left side, over the left shoulder.

To release the pose. Bring head and gaze back to centre. Bring leg back to centre, release the interlocked fingers from the right toe and place the right foot down back to stand in Tadasana.

Repeat on left side.

Teacher Queues

Visualization Comments

The most important visualisation cue for this pose is to imagine the foot that is balancing the pose as the anchor of this posture. Imagine the feet sinking into the mat, and with that as the crutch to the pose, imagine the entire body lengthening upwards towards the top of the head. Open shoulders and strengthen core as you find a point ahead of you to fix your gaze upon. This external concentration point works as the second anchor point of the posture. To further stabilise the posture, place the hand on the hip. Use the 2 finger grip to interlock fingers around the large toe and while extending forward imagine extending a string forward, while opening the leg to the side, imagine opening the string further to the side.

Technical Comments

Important to start this pose with steady balance. Feet firm on the mat, the leg muscles are active and drawn up create a sense of balance in the body. Shift the weight of the body to balance on one foot. Spending some time finding balance while standing on the left leg. To further stabilise, place the left hand on the waist. This creates an overall sense of balance in the body. Open shoulders and chest and lengthen the spine. Lift the right leg up by folding the right knee closer to the torso. Reach for your right big toe, and wrap your index and middle finger to create a firm grip. Extend the leg forward and use the tight and firm grip of the fingers to lengthen hamstring.

Benefit Comments

  • Strengthens feet, legs, arms and abdomen muscles
  • Improves sense of balance.
  • Opens hips
  • Helps relieve tight hamstrings
  • Sharper focus and better concentration

Watch Out For:

  • Loss of balance
  • Hunching of the back and shoulders
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Tight Hips

Contraindications

  • Hip injuries
  • Hamstring injuries
  • Ankle injury
  • Sciatica

Modifications

  • Use a strap around the foot to lift forward and extend. Tight hamstrings can hinder one from practising this pose
  • Stand against a wall for balance and additional support.

Variations

Yoga Counter Poses

Written By: Adithi Mathews

Adithi Mathews is a 500 Hr CYT,yoga practitioner and writer living in Germany. More information about Adithi can be found on www.adithimathews.com

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