Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana: Extended Hand to Toe Pose
Utthita hasta padangusthasana (oo-TEET-uh HAWS-tuh POD-ung-goos-THAWS-un-nuh), also known as extended hand-to-toe pose, is a challenging and invigorating posture that stretches and strengthens while calming the mind and improving focus.
- Start standing with your hands on your hips. Draw your left knee in towards your belly and interlace your fingertips in front of your shin. Level your hips so they are equidistant from the ground. Pause here for a breath.
- Reach your left hand on the inside of your left knee and take hold of your big toe with your first and second fingers. Stay here, or lengthen your spine and extend your foot forward any amount.
- Hold for 3-5 breaths and release back to standing. Repeat on the other side.
- For help with balance, try this pose with your free hand against a wall.
- Keep the knee on your extended leg bent, or wrap a strap around your foot and take hold of the strap.
- Option to extend your foot out to the side, and opposite arm out to the other side. Keep your shoulders level and relaxed away from the ears.
- Utthita = extended
- Hasta = hand
- Pada = foot
- Angustha = big toe
- Asana = pose
- Stretches hamstrings and hips.
- Stretches the inner leg line (adductors).
- Strengthens the back and arm muscles.
- Improves sense of balance.
- Calms the mind and improves focus.
- Reclined hand to toe pose | Supta padangusthasana
- Monkey lunge | Anjanayasana
- Half splits | Ardha hanumanasana
- Dancing Shiva pose | Parivrtta hasta padagusthasana
- Front splits | Hanumanasana
- Downward-facing dog | Adho mukha svanasana
Urdhva Dhanurasana: Upward Facing Bow Pose
Urdhva dhanurasana (OORD-vah don-your-AHS-ah-nah) is a deep backbend that can cultivate flexibility, strength, and patience.
Philosophy + Origin
Urdhva dhanurasana is thought to increase the vital life force in the body, specifically around the heart. When practiced regularly and with dedication, even if the “full” pose is never achieved, upward facing bow pose can awaken courage, compassion, and radiance in the mind and spirit.
- Blocks on the wall: Place two blocks against a wall, about shoulder distance apart. Place your hands on the blocks as you move into urdhva dhanurasana to help elevate your upper body and better engage your shoulder blades.
- Strap: Use a strap around your upper arms to prevent the elbows from splaying as you press upward.
- Block: Place a block between your thighs to keep your lower body engaged.
- One-legged: Try out eka pada urdhva dhanurasana by lifting up one leg at a time.