How to Do Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose in Yoga (Guide to Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana)

Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe pose might, at first, look fairly easy. But know that this pose requires a huge amount of flexibility in the hamstring.

Depending on the shape of your skeleton, you might find this pose near impossible! If your legs are particularly long or your arms are particularly short, you might struggle to reach your foot, and that’s ok.

“It’s easy to overestimate our ability to practice extended hand-to-big-toe pose,” says Yoga Answered contributor Keira Shepherd. “Take it easy and be aware of overstretching your hamstring by paying attention to any pain behind the knee or in the top of the hamstring where the muscle meets the sit bone.”

Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
Pose Type: Balancing Yoga Poses, Hip-Opening Yoga Poses, Standing Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: Arms, shoulders, feet, ankles, glutes, hamstrings, hips, knees, quads
Benefits: This pose contracts your muscles while lengthening the spine and improving both balance and focus.
Preparatory Poses: Tree pose, seated hamstring stretch, wide-angle seated forward bend pose

How to Do Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Start in a standing position on your mat with your feet together.
  2. Find a point in front of you to focus on.
  3. Bring the right knee into your chest.
  4. Bright your right arm to the inside of your right leg and hold onto your foot.
  5. Push into the standing leg to stay tall and strong.
  6. Bring your left hand to your left hip.
  7. Slowly straighten your right knee as you bring your leg out to the side.
  8. Straighten the leg as much as you can without feeling any pain behind the knee.

Beginner’s Tip

As you come to stand on one leg, be aware of the tendency to “sink” into the hip of the standing leg. Push into the ground to keep the hip in line with your ankle – this will prevent injury and help you stay strong in this pose.

Stretch the hamstrings by flowing through a few rounds of sun salutations – focusing on forward fold and downward-facing dog pose – before moving into extended hand-to-big-toe-pose.

Contraindications

  • This pose can be a bit uncomfortable if you have any pain or weakness in the ankles. Placing a folded blanket below the heel can help. If in doubt, avoid this pose.
  • Avoid this pose if you’ve had a recent injury in either of your hips.

Variation

Lay on your back with a yoga strap next to you.

From here, bend your right knee into your chest and bring the strap around the sole of your foot. Straighten your leg as you kick your heel towards the sky. Lift your leg no higher than where you’re still able to keep the entire leg straight with no bend in the knee.

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