Working Intelligently Towards
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

utthita hasta padangushtasana 1

If you can't hold on to your toe with your knee straight in utthita hasta padangusthasana (one hand big toe pose) then bend your knee and hold on to it instead.

Another option is to wrap a towel around your foot and use both hands to hold on to the towel.

This pose couuld be thought of as a standing hamstring stretch for the lifted leg. So that you can stretch the hamstring focus on relaxing it.

You can also work on using the strength of your arm (and or the hip flexors).

If the problem is lack of grip then grab on to the side of the foot instead. It's no longer "big toe pose" but then again, neither is it if you are using a towel!

Names aside, if your hamstrings lack flexibility, try not to compensate by rounding your spine.

Use a towel or bend your knee so that you can keep your spine straight while doing this one legged series of balance poses.

You can then use your arms to pull on your leg without compromising your lower back.

Making your Standing Leg Stable

To work on your standing leg stability, practice first with the foot turned out slightly and the standing knee slightly bent. Try squeezing the outer thigh and hip and the inner thigh. Also try squeezing the hamstring.

Practice this first with your lifted knee bent, and then with it straight (or only slightly bent). Hold for only a breath or two then switch legs.

utthita hasta padangusthasana prepration, standing on one leg, other knee liftedutthita hasta padangusthasana prepration, standing on one leg, other leg lifted

Next, as your leg stability improves, work towards doing it with a straight knee and your foot facing forwards.

Supporting Your Lifted Leg

One way to work towards the flexibility required in this pose is to rest your foot on a table, book shelf, low wall or even a tree limb.

Keep your standing leg and spine stable and focus on relaxing your hamstring so that you can then position your leg on something higher.

Balancing on One Foot

If your problem is balance, work on keeping your balance by using your standing foot to feel where your center of gravity is.

Work at keeping your center of gravity centered between the outside and inside edges of your standing foot. Also position your center of gravity forwards enough that your toes naturally press down. You can then use your toes to help keep your center stable. If your sensitivity is good, you can practice balancing without the use of your toes. In this case try shifting your weight onto your heel and keep it there. Relax your toes.

To practice stabilizing your body, start by activating the feet and ankle of your standing leg. Make both strong and rigid. Then activate the muscles of your lower leg. Hug the bones with the muscles housed in the lower leg.

Do the same with your knee joint.

Stabilize the hip of your standing leg by sucking the thigh bone of that leg into its hip socket. From there stabilize your mid section, spine, ribcage and shoulder of the arm supporting your leg.

If using the towel option and both arms then stabilze both shoulders. To stabilize your shoulders pull your shoulders towards their respective elbows. (Thanks Tim.)

Lifted Leg

With respect to the Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana lifted leg, you can focus on relaxing the back of the thigh so that you can lift the leg higher.

Or you can try activating the back of the thigh by pulling your leg down while at the same time using your hand to pull up.

Another option is to focus on reaching the leg out of the hip. Make your leg feel long. And at the same time pull up with the arm or pull up and back.

Experiment with these variations whether the leg is to the front or the side.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana Variations

In the Ashtanga Yoga Standing Sequence, the first two variations of this pose are with the hand grabbing the big toe first with your leg to the front and then open your lifted leg to the side.

When moving the leg to the side, try externally rotating the leg so that the knee points slightly rearwards.

Then move your leg to the front again, bend forward once and kiss your knee and then lift your torso, release your hand and hold your leg out to the front.

Hold each position for 5 breaths.

Do the right leg first (stand on your left foot) and then the left leg.

utthita hasta padangushtasana 1, ashtanga yoga posesutthita hasta padangushtasana 2, ashtanga yoga posesutthita hasta padangushtasana 3, ashtanga yoga poses

Ashtanga Yoga Poses: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1, 2 and 3

Keeping the Leg Up In Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

Especially when holding your leg out to the front without using your hand, you may find this a lot easier to do if you bend your standing leg.

This gives you more room to stabilize your pelvis with the muscles of your standing leg.

From there it is then easier to engage your abs to unify your ribage and pelvis. You then have a more stable base for reaching your leg to the front.

Also, because this can be hard to learn on the fly, especially after having done the hand grabbing variations, you might try resting after the first two variations, then go into the third variation with fresh legs.

You may find that you learn it faster and can then transition into it without resting.

Another option for this third utthita hasta padangusthasana position is to practice first with your lifted knee bent. Because this is easier, work up to holding for ten slow breaths. Then work at slowly (over the course of several practices) making your knee straighter.

The alternative is to practice suffering the pain of trying the full pose straight away.

Balancing Poses

Body Awareness

Pain and other Problems

Beginners, Basics and Specialized Practices

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Arm Balances and
Learning to Balance

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Yoga Poses to Improve Balance.
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Improving Balance,
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Balancing on One Foot
Working on Foot and Hip Stability

Binding and Balancing,
Binding Changes Tension and Stability!

Taking the Balance Component Out of
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Much of how I do and teach yoga poses is based on my experience fixing guns in the army, engineering, practicing Chinese Calligraphy and my experience of anatomy.

Continue reading "Sensational Yoga Poses"

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Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in yoga poses.

Continue reading "Stability in Yoga Poses"

Video: Upward Facing Dog

Some exercises for upward facing dog including: How to activate (and feel) the back of the body and legs, pulling the shoulders downwards (or ribcage upwards) using either lats or pec minor

Continue reading "Video: Upward Facing Dog"

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Work towards Half Bound Lotus Yoga Pose with exercises for closing the knee, stretching the hip rotators, practicing external rotation of the shin and activating and shaping the foot and ankle.

Continue reading "Bound Lotus Yoga Pose"

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Continue reading "Chair Yoga Pose"

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Learn how to use your foot and leg to stay stable while balancing on one foot and one hand in half moon yoga pose.

Continue reading "Half Moon Yoga Pose"

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Some simple exercises to help you prepare for and balance in yoga crow pose arm balance and some suggestions for advanced movements like jumping from bakasana into chaturanga dandasana.

Continue reading "Yoga Crow Pose Arm Balance"

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Hamstring Anatomy for yoga practitioners, focusing on backbending and forward bending of the hips with knees bent and straight.

Continue reading "Hamstring Anatomy for Yoga"

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Improve your kinaesthetic awareness. Understanding some basic muscle anatomy for yoga, learn where to direct your senses and how to better control your muscles.

Continue reading "Muscle Anatomy for Yoga"

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A selection of standing and seated yoga hamstring stretches, both gravity assisted and muscle assisted for improving hamstring flexibility. Sensational Yoga Poses.

Continue reading "Yoga Hamstring Stretches"

Yoga Hip Stretches

Yoga Hip stretches for improved hip and leg flexibility.

Continue reading "Yoga Hip Stretches"

Yoga Tree Pose

One of the challenges of yoga tree pose is staying balanced. Another challeng is that one side may be easier than the other.

Continue reading "Yoga Tree Pose"

Hamstring Yoga

Learn how the hamstrings can bend the knees and hips and stabilize them in hamstring yoga on sensational yoga poses.

Continue reading "Hamstring Yoga"

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Some simple steps for working towards side plank so that you can balance more easily and do it with a stabilized shoulder.

Continue reading "Side Plank Step-by-Step"

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Shoulder yoga improves shoulder flexiblity and strength by focusing on shoulder and ribcage awareness while stretching or exercising the shoulders

Continue reading "Shoulder Yoga"

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These rotator cuff exercises can be done while standing or sitting and can be used as part of a warm up for a yoga class or any other activity where the arms are used.

Continue reading "Rotator Cuff Exercises"

Cobra Pose

To work towards cobra pose I use a series of poses to teach my students how to feel and activate their spinal erectors, intercostals, glute max and hamstrings.

Continue reading "Cobra Pose"

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Here's a look at wheel pose and how you can make it easier to get your head off of the floor.

Continue reading "Wheel Pose for Beginners (video)"

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Some basic headstand preparation exercises plus tips on how to roll out of headstand and how to avoid a collapsed back when lifting your legs in headstand.

Continue reading "Latest Headstand Videos"

SI Joint Stability Exercises

The SI Joint could allow the sides of the pelvis to act somewhat like the shoulder blades. What are the muscles that then "shape the pelvis" and or stabilize it?

Continue reading "SI Joint Stability Exercises"