In Utthita Padangusthasana, which roughly translates to Extended hand to big toe pose, you get the opportunity to work core muscles, strengthen hip stabilizers, and stretch your hamstrings–a multitasker’s dream! First, you stabilize your core and prepare to balance on one leg. Then, you lift a leg. While it’s up, your standing leg’s hip stabilizers work like crazy to prevent you from oscillating back and forth like a fan. Finally, you reach through the sole of your foot to stretch your hamstrings.
This pose may sound like quite a chore, but it’s really fun to practice. Also, whether you do the full version or keep your knee slightly bent, it’s really rewarding to feel the energy from your legs reach in two different directions.
- Use ujjayi breathing.
- Begin in Tadasana.
- Inhale and reach your arms up toward the ceiling. Take a moment at the top of your inhale to really reach your fingertips toward the ceiling and feel length in your side body.
- Draw your belly button toward your spine.
- Exhale and lower your hands to your hips.
- Send energy down through your left leg so that your right leg gets light. Let your right leg lift so that your knee comes toward your right shoulder.
- Loop your middle and pointer fingers around your big toe. Close the loop with your thumb.
- Inhale and send energy down through your left leg and out the top of your head. Then, reach the sole of your right foot for the wall in front of you as you draw your belly button toward your spine. If your knee doesn’t straighten all the way, that’s fine. What’s important here is your muscular energy.
- For those who can easily straighten their leg and maintain muscular energy, try guiding your leg up closer toward your face. You can move your hands to grab your foot or ankle to help guide your leg. Just make sure that you don’t lose your form and muscular energy!
- Hold and breathe for 5-8 breaths. As you inhale, remember to lengthen and as you exhale, remember to soften.
- To come out of this pose, bend your right knee and return your right foot to the ground.
- Follow the steps listed above but switch sides so that your left leg now lifts.
Utthita Padangusthasana Video
Here is a video for visual learners.
What is your biggest challenge with this pose: core strength, hip stabilizers, or hamstring flexibility? Let us know in the comments below.
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