[Pose Of the Week] Stretch & Balance In Big Toe Pose (Beginner)

Stretch your spine & hamstrings, strengthen your back & legs, & more in Big Toe Pose…

Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana) – not to be confused with the sometimes similarly named Toe Stand Pose in Bikram yoga – is a beginner-level yoga pose that is deceptively simple, considering all the benefits it offers.

Big Toe Pose offers a deep stretch for your entire body, releasing tension throughout the body, and helping to relieve back pain. This pose also strengthens the quadriceps, calves, adductor muscles, hip flexors, knee joints, and arches of the feet, while providing a great stretch for the back and spine, hips, gluteal muscles, and hamstrings. It also releases tension in the neck, improves balance, and may help to relieve sciatica.

If you have ankle, knee, hip, or lower back issues, approach this pose with caution, and modify if needed. If you have a hamstring injury, you should practice the pose with knees bent. Those with high or low blood pressure should move extra slowly when entering and exiting the pose. If you are pregnant or have an abdominal hernia, please modify the pose by resting your hands on the wall, a chair, or yoga blocks, and do not fold all the way forward.

Those with neck or lower back injuries, detached retina, or herniated discs should avoid this pose.

How to Do Big Toe Pose:

  1. Stand in Tadasana with your feet hip distance apart. For a more advanced version of Padangusthasana bring your feet together.
  2. Stretch your arms up and overhead and stretch your body upwards before folding forward.
  3. Fold forward and place your hands (fingertips or palms flat) on the ground.
  4. Push down and forward with your hands to help move your chest back towards your thighs. This is Uttanasana.
  5. Wrap your first two fingers under your big toes and wrap your thumbs over the top of each toe. Bend your elbows slightly out to the sides.
  6. Pull up with your fingers while also pushing your big toes down into the ground.
  7. Lift your torso and, as best as possible, bring the natural curves to your back. Straighten your arms and look forward.
  8. Move your shoulder blades away from your ears and expand your chest.
  9. Fold forward as you lengthen your spine. Move from the back of your rib cage towards your thighs to help bring your chest and forehead towards your legs.
  10. Pull up with your fingers while also pushing the balls of your feet down into the ground.
  11. Bend your elbows out to the sides and then lengthen through all sides of your neck as you move your shoulder blades away from your ears. Stretch long through your spine.
  12. Squeeze your legs towards each other and fully straighten your legs (if possible without rounding your lower back). If you have a tendency to hyperextend your knees, work to avoid that here and keep a slight (nearly imperceptible) bend in your knees.
  13. Bring your forehead to your legs if possible.
  14. Stay here for a few breaths.
  15. To come out of the pose, keep holding your toes, lift your chest, and straighten your arms. Bend your knees a little, let go of your toes, place your hands on your waist, and stand up.
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