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.

Yoga Videos (Free)

The Yoga Basics Bundle

$77.75 $52.00

Buy Now

Shiva, Shoulders, Muscle Control and Active Stretching

$68.00 $48.00

Buy Now

Beginners Yoga Package 2

$50.00 $42.00

Buy Now

Beginners Yoga Package 1

$32.00 $28.00

Buy Now

Shiva and Shoulders

$36.00 $24.00

Buy Now

What's New?

Balancing in Side Plank

Balancing in side plank can be made easier to learn if you learn the necessary actions step-by-step with this sensational yoga poses yoga tutorial.

Continue reading "Balancing in Side Plank"

Turkish Get Up

Like learning a sun salutation you can learn the smaller movements of the turkish get up in isolation. And like when doing a yoga pose you can focus on being aware of your body as you learn the movements.

Continue reading "Turkish Get Up"

Elbow Joint Anatomy for Yoga Teachers

Elbow Joint Anatomy for Yoga Teachers, elbow stability for better shoulder function in chaturanga, downward dog and other arm supported yoga poses.

Continue reading "Elbow Joint Anatomy for Yoga Teachers"

Why Learn to Feel Your Body?

Someone asked me how long it would take to "get" a particular yoga pose. My suggestion is that if you learn to feel and control your body (while working towards particular yoga poses) the length of time it will take becomes less important. Because instead of "when will I get there" mindset, you can instead enjoy the journey. And in the process feel for yourself the best way to get there.

Continue reading "Why Learn to Feel Your Body?"

Gluteus Maximus Anatomy for Yoga Teachers

Gluteus maximus anatomy for yoga teachers. This muscle crosses the SI joint, hip joint and knee. It extends the hip and can be used to stretch the hip flexors in poses like upward facing dog.

Continue reading "Gluteus Maximus Anatomy for Yoga Teachers"

Balancing in Half Moon

Balancing in Half Moon yoga pose can be made easier. Some simple tricks to make balance and stability easier.

Continue reading "Balancing in Half Moon"

Fixing Forward Head Posture

Head forward posture can result from computer work, stress, or poor body awareness. Here's some simple exercises for fixing forward head posture.

Continue reading "Fixing Forward Head Posture"

Becoming More Conscious

One of my primary interests is in becoming more conscious and in helping others to do the same.

Continue reading "Becoming More Conscious"

Shoulder Stretches

These gravity assisted and muscle assisted shoulder stretches are designed to improve shoulder flexibility.

Continue reading "Shoulder Stretches"

Scapular Awareness

Scapular mobility and shoulder stability can be facilitated with greater scapular awareness. These shoulder stabilization exercises improve awareness and control of the shoulder blades.

Continue reading "Scapular Awareness"

Breathing Anatomy for Yoga Teachers

Breathing anatomy for yoga teachers including the diaphragm, transverse abdominus, obliques, spinal erectors and how they can be used in isolation and together to create different breathing techniques.

Continue reading "Breathing Anatomy for Yoga Teachers"

Thoracolumbar Fascia

Thoracolumbar Fascia connects gluteus maximus and latissimus dorsai, connects transverse abdominus, spinal erectors and biceps femoris, can help stabilize lumbar spine and si joint.

Continue reading "Thoracolumbar Fascia"

Sacrotuberous Ligament

Sacrotuberous ligament tension can be affected by the gluteus maximus, obturator internus, multifidus, biceps femoris and piriformis. How does this affect SI joint stability?

Continue reading "Sacrotuberous Ligament"

Dolphin Yoga Pose

Suggestions for preparing the shoulders and then adjusting the shoulders (and arms) in Dolphin Yoga Pose.

Continue reading "Dolphin Yoga Pose"

Sensational Yoga Poses

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"

Stability in Yoga Poses

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"

Bound Lotus Yoga Pose

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"

Yoga Crow Pose Arm Balance

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"

Chair Yoga Pose

Do you experience knee pain while doing chair yoga pose? Here are some suggestions to alleviate knee pain. You can also use chair pose as an excuse to practice squatting.

Continue reading "Chair Yoga Pose"

Balancing Poses

ashtanga sun salutation a

Ashtanga Yoga

When first learning yoga it can help to have a predefined sequence of poses.
That's why I started with Ashtanga Yoga.

hamstring anatomy

Hamstring Anatomy

Learn how to feel and control your hamstrings with Hamstring anatomy

triangle yoga pose variation for hip and ab stability

SI Joint Stability Exercises

What are some of the muscles that directly act on the SI Joint? How do you exercise them?

Dolphin yoga pose

Dolphin Yoga Pose

Improve shoulder flexibility and stability and weight bearing ability with Dolphin Yoga Pose.

bridge yoga pose, back bending yoga poses, leg strenghtening yoga poses, energizing poses, yoga postures, spinal back bends, neil keleher

Bridge Yoga Pose

Practice differentiating your hips and your lumbar spine in Bridge Pose.

Body Awareness

Pain and other Problems

Beginners, Basics and Specialized Practices

More Balance

Yoga Balance Poses and
Shifting Your Center.

Arm Balances and
Learning to Balance

Yoga for Motorcyclists
Improve Cornering Comfort and Confidence.

Yoga Poses to Improve Balance.
They're Fun and a Little Unusual.

Improving Balance,
Focus on Stability.

Balancing on One Foot
Working on Foot and Hip Stability

Binding and Balancing,
Binding Changes Tension and Stability!

Taking the Balance Component Out of
Inverted Yoga Poses