Step-by-Step Yoga Pose: Hand to Toe

Spring is the season we most associate with new growth and development. It’s hard not to as blooms burst through the earth and grass begins to green.

What have you been meaning to change up? Is there anything new you’d like to bring into your life? With endless potential on the horizon, it’s important to remain rooted so as to not lose your grounding when change starts to happen. Practice rooting to the earth while rising tall with this yoga pose. It is a challenging posture—modify based on your comfort and experience level and practice often!

Hand-to-Toe Pose

Alias: utthita hasta padangustasana (“uttihita” = extended, “hasta” = hand, “pada” = foot, “angusta” = big toe, “asana” = pose)

Why Hand-to-Toe Pose?

You’ll strengthen while you lengthen! Benefits include:

  • Building strength in the legs, core and shoulder
  • Stretching the back line of the leg (hamstrings and calves)
  • Practicing your balance and concentration

Getting into the posture:

  • Begin by standing with your feet together and your arms relaxed at your sides.
  • Inhale and exhale. Focus your mind and picture the pose.
  • Inhale, press firmly through the four corners of the left foot.
  • Exhale, raise your right knee to your chest with fingers interlaced over the top of the knee.
  • Lengthen up through the spine.
  • You can stay here. To move further into the pose, grasp the index and middle fingers of your right hand around the inside of the big toe OR loop a strap around the bottom of your foot.
  • Gently stretch your leg forward and raise your left arm to the sky.
  • If you would like, begin to open your leg out to the side.
  • Balance in the pose for 15-45 seconds. Breathe.
  • To exit, gently bring the raised foot back to the earth.
  • Repeat the sequence starting with the right foot on the ground.

FootUp

Tips for success:

  • Maintain a straight, long spine (that’s the most important part!)
  • Press down firmly through the foot on the ground and keep lifting up through the leg line (avoid collapsing in the hip).
  • Keep your belly engaged and your head, shoulders and hips aligned.
  • Keep your hips even as much as possible when straightening the leg (the hip tends to hike up).

Variations/Modifications:

  • Use a strap: Loop a yoga strap (scarf, or tie) around the bottom of your foot. Hold onto the other end of the strap and straighten your leg. This will let you go more deeply into the pose if you cannot grasp your toe.
  • From the floor: Lie on your back. Bend your knee into your chest and either grasp your toe or the bottom of your foot. Gently extend the foot toward the ceiling, pressing through the ball and the heel as if you were standing on the ground. Keep the leg straight up or slightly move it over to one side and feel the stretch along your leg line.

Modification

Contraindications (i.e., things to keep in mind):

  • Shoulder injury: Be very gentle! The leg is much strong than the arm. Keep arm muscles engaged to lessen the stress on your shoulder.
  • Ankle injury: Try the pose lying on the floor.
  • Low back injury: Be gentle as you move into the pose. If it hurts, exit the pose and try it while laying down.

Natalie Sober is a yoga enthusiast who is inspired to share her knowledge. Natalie completed her first RYT-200 hour yoga teacher training course in Telkot, Nepal, in the Sanatan style of yoga before obtaining her second RYT-200 hour certification in the Power Vinyasa style. She also happens to be a member of Pharmaca’s marketing department.

**Please consult your physician before beginning this series or any exercise program. As always, your body is the best teacher so listen to the cues it gives regarding whether or not a pose is a good idea.

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