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
Natarajasana: Lord of the Dance Pose
Natarajasana (not-ah-raj-AHS-anna) is a physically challenging, beautiful pose that requires flexibility in the spine, legs, and hips. To practice the pose, use a thoughtful sequence filled with plenty of preparatory poses in order to make sure your body – and mind – are adequately prepared. Regular practice will help develop strong mental fortitude and determined concentration.
Philosophy + Origin
A physical embodiment of King Nataraja, a form of the lord Shiva, lord of the dance pose (also referred to as king dancer pose) is a tribute to this powerful god of destruction. Embracing destruction and even death as part of the cycle of change and growth, this pose is a helpful reminder that no good can exist without evil, no birth without death.
In most depictions of King Nataraja, he is standing on one leg (hence the shape of the pose), gazing over the head of a small dwarf, whose presence represents ignorance. In this way, lord of the dance pose encourages our consciousness to elevate above ignorance, above the common thoughts and misunderstandings that cloud our view. The balance that comes from the pose awakens our understanding that clarity brings steadiness.