Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
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).
The Sanskrit name for this pose, "Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana", this pose also goes by various English translations: "Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose," "Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose," "Big Toe Hold," "Standing Big Toe Pose,” and others. As you might guess, the big toe of the extended foot plays a major role in this pose! Keep reading to learn more.
Benefits of Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles. It deeply stretches the hamstrings (the back thigh muscles), while gently opening the hips, shoulders, and arms. This pose challenges and improves your sense of balance, which in turn develops greater concentration and focus.
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. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
How to Do Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)
- Begin from Mountain Pose, shift your weight over to your right foot.
- Bend the left knee, bringing the left foot off the floor. Hug your left knee into your chest.
- Bring your left hand inside your left thigh in order to grab your left big toe in a yogi toe lock.
- Straighten your left leg out on front of you as much as possible.Keep both hips squared to the front of the room. Flex your left foot.
- Try to keep the spine straight, the shoulders sliding away from your ears, and your left arm in the shoulder socket.
- Hold for 5-20 breaths.
- Release the left foot and repeat the pose on the other side.
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose for Beginners
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana is a deep stretch when practiced in correct alignment. If you have tight hamstrings, this pose may seem impossible and unrealistic! But with patience and dedication, your flexibility will improve. Just remember to take it slowly and never force the pose.
- If you can’t comfortably straighten your left leg and keep your arm plugged into its socket at the same time, use a yoga strap around the instep of the left foot. Hold the strap in your left hand and then straighten the leg.
- Try bending your left leg and holding onto your knee instead. Keep your left foot flexed.
- If your balance is compromising your hamstrings stretch, try the reclined version of this pose, Supta Padangusthasana. It’s also a great prep pose for the standing version.
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose for Advanced
Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose will challenge your muscles and your mind! 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.
- Try coming into the pose from Uttanasana. Grasp your left toe while you are in the forward bending position. Come all the way up to stand while keeping ahold of the toe. Your left leg stays as straight as possible the whole time. You can bend your standing leg a little if necessary as you come to stand. Straighten it once you get upright.
- Once you are up, there are a few balancing variations you can try. First, forward bend your torso over the left leg, keeping a flat back the whole time.
- Open the left leg out to the left side. Keep both hips squared to the front.
- You can also try switching your grip on your left toe from your left hand to your right hand. The left leg stays straight in front of your as you twist your torso to the left and extend your left hand to the back of the room.
- When coming out of the pose, release your grip on your toe and try to keep your lifted leg the same height without your hand for support. Hold for 5-10 breaths while concentrating on not leaning backward before releasing the leg.
Stand Tall to Stretch
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.