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
Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose
Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) is a great way to strengthen the upper back and is often practiced as part of a transition back to downward-facing dog in vinyasa yoga. Practicing cobra pose regularly can improve your lung capacity, reduce stress, and stimulate many of the internal organs in your body.
Philosophy + Origin
Although often perceived as evil or dangerous, snakes also have a rich history of power and worship. In some yoga traditions, the energy of kundalini is represented by a serpent resting coiled at the base of the spine. By awakening this snake, we enliven our body’s energy and create a pathway towards enlightenment. This connection with enlightenment is also seen in many portrayals of the Buddha where he is shown with a cobra over his head.
- Option to swap cobra pose for sphinx pose by placing your forearms on the floor.
- Lengthen the back of the neck to avoid straining the neck and upper back.
- If you experience discomfort in the lower back, bend the elbows more.