Root Yourself through the sole of the foot: Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

Standing Big Toe hold – Pose of the week

How did you get on with your Tree Pose practice? Standing big toe hold is a great step on from Tree Pose and Sinead takes us through it this week.

'Building on Tree Pose, Utthita Hasta Padangustasana challenges your leg and core strength, as well as your balance' - Ed in Utthita Padangustasana pose in front of old train carriage.
Building on Tree Pose, Utthita Hasta Padangustasana challenges your leg and core strength, as well as your balance

Standing Big Toe Hold – How to Guide

The full version of this pose is pretty challenging, however there are many variations and props that can be used to make this pose and its’ benefits accessible to all abilities. This pose can help to strengthen the hip flexors, core, quadriceps and even outward hip rotators (in the leg out to the side variation). This pose is a brilliant stretch for the backs of the legs and can really help to improve ones’ sense of balance.

Getting in and out of Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (Big Toe Hold)

You can prep this pose with postures that stretch the backs of the legs and the front of the hip flexors (e.g. Uttanasana and Warrior 1). If you’re going to stretch your leg out to the side, poses for the adductors are a great idea such as Trikonasana.

Tip: If you’ve got tight hamstrings, are a beginner or have injuries to the legs you can start by using a yoga belt around the ball of the foot, instead of using your hand.

Step one: knee to chest

Start by standing in Tadasana. First lift your right leg and bring the knee towards your chest. Make sure the left leg is strong, long and rooted but not locked out at the knee.

Teacher Trainees with knee to chest in preparation (Step One).

Step two: straighten your leg

When you feel ready and balanced you can start to straighten the right leg. You can either have the belt wrapped around the ball of the right foot or you could have your middle and index finger wrapped around your big toe.

Step three: check in with yourself

Once the leg is as extended as comfortable, notice if the standing leg has bent and straighten it up again. Check now your hips, if the right hip has raised, try to lower it in line with the left and bring the left hip into the centre. Finally, check in with your shoulders, especially the right one, if they have hunched forwards, bend the lifted leg, straighten the spine and roll the shoulders back.

Step four: annnnd breathe!

Breathe here for 6 deep breaths.

Teacher Trainees straightening legs in front, some with belt around front foot (Step Two).

Step five: if you’re feeling up to it…

If you have the energy and you would like to take it further you can extend the foot out to the side to open up the hips and bring a stretch to the inner thighs on the right leg. Try to make sure the hips stay level and only take it as far as is challenging. Don’t stretch into pain. If you’re new to this pose you can bend the lifted leg so then you can first experience what it’s like to have the hips open in a standing balance.

Step six: how to exit the pose

To come out of this pose, bring the foot back to the centre, release the right hand to the right hip and slowly lower the leg down so the foot comes in line with the left foot. (Note, if you’re mad for it you can release the hand to the hip and keep the foot raised for a few breaths. It’s really challenging but great at strengthening the hip flexors).

Step seven: now for your other side

Come back to Tadasana and repeat on the other side.

Standing Big Toe Hold: What to watch out for

Do not practice this pose if you suffer from ankle injuries that make it painful to stand on one leg.If you have any injuries to the backs of the legs, take it very easy and don’t fully extend the legs.Finally if you have problems with the sacroiliac joint you may want to avoid opening the leg out to the side as it could compress that area.

Practice your Standing Big Toe Hold at home or in class

Standing big toe hold is a fairly challenging pose, but this week is a great chance for you to work on it. We will be working on Standing big toe hold in class. As always, our teachers are here to give you individual tips and help with your pose.

Ed with Mario in Standing Big Toe Hold, leg to the side (Step Five).

Read the instructions, have a practice of Standing big toe hold and post your Pose of the Week pic to social media

Best of luck with your practice! We’d love to see your pose on our FacebookTwitter or Instagram with the hashtag #yfweeklypose

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