Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose

Sanskrit: Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

Lots of variations and options make Extended Hand to Big Toe pose a challenging but accessible balancing pose. I sometimes call this pose the Standing Leg Raise, which is what we called it on my training. I also often add in two other parts to the pose to keep you on one leg for twelve breaths! Here we just look at the extended leg variation.

Don’t forget that your balance will be different from day to day, and possibly from side to side. If you fall out of a balance, just get straight back into it!

How to get into the pose:

  • Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) then inhale your hands to your hips

  • Find a solid foundation through your left foot then inhale to lift your right knee to hip height

  • Reach down and either a) hold/support your knee or b) catch your big toe with your peace fingers (index and middle fingers)

  • As you exhale, draw your abdominal muscles in and up (engage uddiyana bandha)

  • If you have your toe, inhale to straighten back up and draw your upper arm bones back

  • On an exhale, externally rotate your right leg out to the right side - holding your knee or toe

  • Keep your left hand on left hip or extend your left arm out to the left side to help your balance.

  • Keep a long spine: lengthen through your tail and through he crown of the head

  • Inhale to draw your knee or leg back to centre

  • To release the pose exhale and bring your right foot back down to the mat.

  • Repeat on the other side

Remember to create the balance between effort and ease in your pose.

How long to stay in the pose:

  • Five to ten breaths

Gaze (Drishti)

  • Straight ahead, focusing on a still spot

  • To challenge your balance turn your gaze to your extended fingers (in the opposite direction to your foot)

Modifications you can take to make this pose more accessible:

  • You can use a strap to practice the pose with a straight leg until you can reach your toe

  • Bend at the knee and support your knee with your hand

  • Stand close to the wall and use it to help you to balance