[Pose Of the Week] Challenge Your Balance & Flexibility with Standing Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Intermediate)

Stretch your hamstrings and improve balance, focus, and concentration with Standing Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose…

As with a number of other beginner yoga poses, Standing Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana) is a deceptively simple pose that is more challenging than it may look!

This pose (also sometimes called “Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose,” “Big Toe Hold,” or “Standing Big Toe Pose”) is a beginner-to-intermediate yoga pose that provides a great leg stretch while challenging your balance and core strength, and opening up your hips, shoulders, and arms. This is a great pose to help you prepare for deeper hamstring stretches or other balance poses, and it provides both a mental and physical challenge.

If you have tight hamstrings, this pose can be especially challenging. Keep in mind that your flexibility will improve over time, so pay attention to your body, take it easy, and don’t force the pose. Feel free to use props if needed, until your flexibility improves. If you are unable to reach your toes with your fingers, you can wrap a yoga strap around the ball of your lifted foot, or rest your foot on the edge of a chair or table as you begin to build strength and flexibility. For a more advanced version, try extending your raised leg out to the side instead of in front of you.

Those with a recent or chronic ankle or low back injury should avoid this pose.

Here are basic instructions for performing Standing Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. On an exhalation, extend your right leg forward. Straighten your right leg as much as possible.
  5. Keep both hips squared forward and keep your spine straight. Do not scrunch your neck or shoulders; keep them soft and relaxed.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
For more tips and variations on this pose, visit YogaOutlet.com


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