Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Yoga Pose of the Day: Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose

Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose, or Utthita Hasta Pandangusthasana, is a wonderful pose for stretching your legs, primarily your hamstrings and calves, challenging your balance, and strengthening your ankles. There are multiple variations of the pose which can help further open your hips and shoulders.

1-Begin standing in Mountain Pose, creating length through your spine by pushing through your heels and extending through your head. Keep your chest up and your shoulders down away from your ears, pressing down into your back.

2-Shift your weight onto your left foot, until 98 percent of your weight is supported on your left foot.

3-When you feel balanced, begin to lift your right knee up to your chest, and place your hands on the outside of your knee and hold this position for a few deep breaths. Engage your core and find your balance here.

4-Take your right hand to the inside of your right foot and loop your index and middle fingers around your big toe.

5-As you exhale, begin to slowly extend your right foot forward, being sure to keep your torso straight. Extend to the farthest point of your flexibility or until your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Hold this extension for five deep breaths.

6-On your next inhalation, slowly bring your knee back to your chest, then exhale and lower your right foot to the floor.

7-Find yourself back in Mountain Pose, and the repeat on the other side, this time extending your left leg forward.

Want to challenge yourself and open your hips? Try Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose, B. After you have extended your leg forward to the point where it is parallel to the ground, rotate your extended leg 90 degrees to the side and gaze in the opposite direction.


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