Hand to Toe | Yoga Pose

Hand to Toe: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

Utthita hasta padangusthasana (oo-TEET-uh-HAWS-tuh POD-ung-goos-THAWS-un-nuh), also known as extended hand or hand-to-toe pose, is a challenging and invigorating posture that stretches and strengthens while calming the mind and improving focus. During each exercise, make sure to maintain a focus on your breathing as it hones your attention, focusing your mind on the constant change as you breathe in and out.

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ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • This pose can be done in stages. Until you are able to do the full expression of the pose, stop at step 2 or 3 and take a few breaths.
  • For help with balance, try this pose with your free hand against a wall.
  • For tight hamstrings, keep the knee on your extended leg bent, or wrap a strap around your foot and take hold of the strap.

CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:

Although this is a mild, stimulating posture, you should check with a doctor before performing the pose if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Ankle injuries
  • Lower back injuries
  • Tight hamstrings

TIPS:

This pose stretches the hamstrings and hips. While this can help with relief from discomfort and prevent sprains, exercise caution. Go slowly, and don’t push your body beyond its limits.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Start in mountain pose with your hands on your hips. Draw your left knee in toward your belly and interlace your fingertips in front of your shin. Engage the bandhas and square the pelvis. Pause here for a breath, enjoying the stretch.
  2. Reach your left hand on the inside of your left knee, and take hold of your big toe with your first and second fingers. Pause here, finding balance, then extend your foot forward. Straighten your knee fully if you can.
  3. Keeping your leg straight, extend your foot toward the left. Keep your right hand on your right hip, or extend your hand out toward the right. Keep the shoulders level and relaxed away from the ears.
  4. For the full expression of the pose, send your gaze over your right shoulder, keeping your chin parallel to the ground.

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PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Supta Padangusthasana
  • Supta Virasana
  • Uttanasana

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

  • Uttanasana
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Bhujangasana

SANSKRIT:

  • Utthita: extended
  • Hasta: hand
  • Pada: foot
  • Angustha: big toe
  • Asana: pose

 

PHILOSOPHY & ORIGIN:

Om, or Aum, has deep roots in Hinduism. The sound, produced by chanting or humming, has historically been revered as a sacred sound in the Hindu tradition and is revered as the most sacred of all mantras. The syllables (a-u-m) that compose this mantra represent the various trifectas that are central to its meaning:

  • 3 Worlds – earth, atmosphere, heaven
  • 3 Major Hindu Gods – Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
  • 3 Sacred Vedic Scriptures – Rg, Yajur, Sama (Source)

This mantra is composed of the entire essence of our universe and is reinforced by the Indian belief that Om is the sacred sound that is the root of everything, created first by God from which all else is derived.

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches hamstrings and hips
  • Stretches adductors
  • Strengthens back and arm muscles

 

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

MANTRA:

Om Mantra

This most widely known and used mantra is among the oldest and most widely practiced aspects of the yoga technique. This mantra acknowledges the constant vibrations we are a part of and connected to with the verbal Om. Chanting at different pitches, beginning with low intonations at three to five repetitions and slowly progressing through higher tones, can allow you to focus on the different aspects of our existence, focusing on everything from the physical body to the spiritual dimension.

MUDRA: ANJALI MUDRA

This mudra is also known as the “prayer mudra.”

How to: Bring both hands together by pressing the palms together firmly and evenly with the fingers and the thumb pointing upward.

Benefits:

  • Helps reduce weight off the body
  • Helps the digestive organs and relieves indigestion
  • Holistically boosts metabolism
  • Gives revitalized energy and strength to the nervous system
  • Sharpens the center within the thyroid gland
  • Relieves anxiety (Source)

 

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Parsvottanasana: Intense Side Stretch Pose

parsvottanasana nicoluce

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

From lengthening the spine to stretching the legs to calming the mind, there’s a little bit of everything in parsvottanasana (parsh-voh-tahn-AHS-ah-nah) Also known as intense side stretch pose or pyramid pose, this shape is helpful for finding balance while stretching hamstrings.

Parsvottanasana requires a combination of flexibility, strength, and patience. With the help of props such as blocks or a wall, the\is pose becomes accessible for everyone.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Blocks: Place hands on blocks to help keep the torso long.
  • Wall: Place hands on a wall in front of you to work on strengthening the muscles of the back.
  • Heart opening variation: Take the hands in reverse prayer position behind the back to stretch and open your shoulders and chest while also challenging your balance. If reverse prayer isn’t accessible, you can still bring the arms behind the back, reaching for opposite elbows instead.
  • Adjust your stance: If the back heel is lifted off of the floor, shorten the stance so you can push through the heel to activate the back leg. For more stability, widen your stance.
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