YogaAndBackCare - Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana means the extended hand to big toe posture. There are two descriptions on this site for this posture. This one has the steps broken down better for learners.

In theory, you can start by standing in Tadasana, the mountain pose.

Then bending the right leg and bringing it upwards, you take your hand to the foot and grab your big toe.

Once you are holding your big toe you straighten out the leg.

When you feel your balance is good, you try and align your body over the extended leg and using a hip hinge bend, bring your body to lie against your thigh with your chin beyond the right knee.

And then of course, you do the same with the left leg lifted!

However most of us have to work towards this posture.

I start in class by asking my students to lift their right knee up and then hold it.

First steps as preparation for Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

If they find that easy ( and remember you don't try and go beyond the level your body is at) I ask them to release their hold of the knee and to keep the knee up.

Preparation for Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

Once they are happy doing that I get them to use a belt and to start lifting the right leg up off the floor. It's actually easier to hold the leg up once it has passed the 90 degree mark.

Lifted leg held up by student using a belt in Cardiff yoga class

I also point out that it helps to engage the tummy muscles so they are actively involved in supporting the lift. So this engagement of the tummy muscles happens on an out breath so the quality and quantity of the in breath is not affected. Remember if the tummy muscles are too tight, it's very difficult for the diaphragm to open and so the in breath can not be as deep.

Only when the student is happy holding the leg up with a belt do I suggest holding the leg up without the belt.

It is easier to bend the knee to the chest and then straighten it out, than to lift the leg straight up. So I always move my students from using the belt to hold the leg up to bending the knee and then straightening the leg.

Only when a student has real control over the core muscles does the leg lift easily from the floor.

This posture improves balance, strengthens the legs, extends and stretches the hamstrings.