UTTHITA HASTA PADANGUSTHASANA – STANDING HAND TO BIG TOE POSE
The primary muscles involved are the tibialis anterior, peroneus longus and brevis, quadriceps, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, gluteus maximus, intertransversarii, interspinalis, transversospinalis group, erector spinae, supinators, pronators and the psoas major.
The most noticeable benefits include improving balance and focus and calming the mind.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana strengthens and stretches the legs, hamstrings and ankles while gently opening the hips, shoulders, and arms. This pose develops greater concentration and focus. It is not about stillness – it is fluid and responsive to the moment so don’t be rigid in this posture. The more strength and adaptability you have in the feet and ankles, the more options you have for finding balance on the standing leg.
HOW TO PERFORM
• Find a stationary point and rest your gaze there for the duration of your stay in the posture.
• Begin standing in Tadasana with your feet together and arms at your sides.
• Shift your weight to your left foot. 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.
• Straighten your spine. Engage your abdominal muscles and the muscles of your left leg.
• Straighten your left leg, but do not lock your knee.
• On an exhalation, extend your right leg forward. Straighten your right leg as much as possible. (If you cannot reach the toes of your raised leg just hug the knee until you have gained more flexibility
• Keep both hips squared forward and keep your spine straight. Keep your shoulders soft and relaxed.
• Ensure that your right hip is in line with your left hip. Bring your awareness to your body centre.
• Hold for 5 breaths. To release, draw your knee back into your chest, then slowly lower your foot to the floor.
• Come back to Tadasana Pose before repeating on the opposite side for the same amount of time.
• It’s more important to keep your spine straight and your shoulders relaxed than it is to straighten your lifted leg. Use a strap if you need to, but be sure your spine stays tall and upright throughout the pose.
• Focus on the stretch, not on the lift! It doesn’t matter how high your leg goes.
• Don’t be afraid to fall and stand tall to stretch.
• Do not practise this pose if you have a recent or chronic ankle or lower back injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
• Beginners or those with knee or back problems should begin against a wall.