Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose

Yoga Poses

Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose /Utthita Hasta Padangusthasan

Steps

Begin in mountain pose, feet touching with hands on hips. Gaze is straight ahead. Shift weight into left leg and foot. Bend right knee to chest, bring right hand to inside of knee and clasp right two fingers around right toe.  Extend the leg straight, horizontal to ground. Stretch left arm horizontal. Open right hip, bring leg out to side.    Turn gaze towards left hand. To exit the pose, bring gaze to front, and return leg to centre. Bend the knee into the chest and step the foot down. Repeat other side

Teacher Queues

Visualization Comments

This pose requires physical awareness of grounding, spinal alignment and focus to stabilise the body for balancing and extending. Imagine your body is a puppet and you are the puppet master. Fix your eye gaze on a centre point directly ahead. Now, visualise a golden string attached to your tailbone, threaded up through your spine, out through the crown of your head and attached to the ceiling. The string is holding you upright so you will not fall down. Now root the feet down, by spreading and pressing the toes down into the ground. Bring your awareness back to the golden string and tighten the string at the top.  Feel the lifting effect as the spine is brought to an upright position. Imagine the shoulders and spine like a T-shape, the pelvis a circle underneath with its centre lining up to the heart. Keep shoulders and pelvis square and facing front.    But two strings are attached to your knee and big toe. To bend the right knee, pull that string up slowly, pressing down with the left foot. Hook fingers around toe and then pull the toe string, so the leg extends straight. To turn the leg out, draw the string around to the right

Technical Comments

When in mountain pose, root the feet down into the ground. Find a fixed point on the wall to focus the gaze. Lift up through the torso to bring the spine upright. Shift weight into the left leg and grip the floor with the toes. When stable, bend the right knee into the chest. Draw the tail bone down to stabilise spine.   Hook two right fingers around big toe. Extend the leg straight in front of the body. Pull shoulder blades down the back, chin parallel to the floor. Raise left arm out to the side for counter balance. Keep pelvis and torso facing to front, do not twist or tilt body.  Instead, gently open right hip and leg to the side. Root toes down, turn head and gaze only to left.

Benefit Comments

  • Strengthens legs and ankles
  • Improves focus, concentration and balance
  • Increases hip flexibility
  • Tones hips and thighs
  • Improves posture and strengthens back and spine

Watch Out For:

  • Tilting hips – Practice in front of mirror, square pelvis, keep hips even
  • Twisting torso -  Sqaure shoulders, draw shoulder blades down back
  • Tipping forward or sideways – practice with one hand or back to wall

Contraindications

  • Sciatica
  • Hip injuries

Modifications

  • Place a strap around sole of foot (when arms do not reach)
  • Practice with back against a wall
  • Practice standing next to a wall, hand holding for support
  • Practice with chair in front, lift leg onto chair with strap

Variations

  • Bend knee, clasp hands under foot sole, extend leg and touch knee to nose
  • Bend knee, cross hands and clasp fingers underneath feet, then extend
  • Bend knee into chest, open hip out to side, clasp toe and extend to side
  • Bend knee into chest, cross hands and clasp fingers underneath feet, release left hand, revolve torso to left, repeat other side

Yoga Counter Poses

  • Forward bend (Uttanasana)
  • Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
  • Hand to foot  (Padahastasana)

Written By: Brenda Hamlet

Brenda Hamlet, is teacher and journalist in Oxford, England. More information about Brenda can be found at www.pret-a-yoga.com

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