Happy FriYAY everyone!
Today I wanted to take some time to discuss one of the more challenging balance poses in my yoga practice. One of my goals since I started Yoga, was to master my Extended Hand to Big Toe pose and I have made some huge progress over the past couple years. I wish I had before pictures but alas, I do not. Go figure.
Every since I was a wee child I had the flexibility of an iron pole, literally unbendable. My hamstrings were so tight that they actually popped my meniscus out a couple times. Ouch! Yoga has allowed me to reach new levels in flexibility like you know touching your toes and being able to be in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana was some hard work!
Let’s talk about benefits before we get into details of how to get into the pose. There are physical and mental benefits listed below!
- Improves leg strength and core strength by holding the pose
- Improves balance (hence balance pose)
- Stretches the hips, abductors, arm muscles and back muscles
- Stretches and Strengthens the ankles
- Opens the hips and shoulders
- Tones your legs and hips
- Improves concentration
- Helps develop intense focus
- Induces calmness
Some great benefits if I do say so myself! Who doesn’t like toned legs and a calm mind?
Here is a picture of the muscles that are activated throughout this pose for those of us that are more visual:
Since I’m sure you cant wait to get into this pose, let’s talk about the steps on how to do so!
- Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) while grounding yourself, start to transfer your weight gently onto your left leg.
- Begin to bend your right knee and pull it off the ground up towards you by engaging your core muscles
- Grab your right big toe with your right-hand index finger forming a lock around the big toe.
- Engage your core and leg muscles as you slowly extend your right leg while holding the yogi toe lock simultaneously. Be sure to only extend to as far as you feel comfortable! Listen to your body. If you cannot reach your toe with a straight leg, use a strap!
- Keep your hips square (mine are not perfectly square) but try your best to keep them square with your left leg.
- If you would like to try something more challenging, move your leg to the side mirroring what I did in the picture below.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths and increase as you strengthen throughout practice.
- Remember to use control when bringing the leg back to the front of your body and as you lower your foot down to the ground.
If you want to get really deep into other variations, my picture is a level 2 variation, practice, practice, practice! I use deep stretching with strap every other day to prep myself for the deeper poses and over time you will see results!
Remember, don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on making your own improvements, creating your own type of practice every single day. Yoga is about being able to be free and be yourself in a safe zone. No matter what level you are at, you are doing amazing!
Until next time,