The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

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July 18, 2012

Different Poses of Big Toe Hold

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 — One of the coolest things about yoga is the ability to take a pose and flip it on its side, back or front, lay it down and sit or stand it up. In kids yoga we take cards with postures on them and copy them with our bodies, turning the cards in every direction possible. It’s a lot of fun and it helps you explore how even the smallest of changes can make the biggest of differences in your poses, and maybe even in your life.

Big Toe Hold, or Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, is a pose that can be done in many different variations to become more accessible or more challenging. My favorite way to begin working on this pose is to practice it lying on the back. Simply lie down and take a strap or belt around the bottom of one foot and straighten and lift that leg while bringing it gently toward your face. You can keep the supporting leg bent with the foot on the floor or you can extend that leg out long.

Once you have opened with this reclined stretch, then you can start to work your way up to seated. Either place a strap or your laced fingers underneath the sole of the foot and extend that leg up toward the ceiling, bringing the foot closer and closer to the face. You can keep the supporting leg bent under you as if in easy, or cross-legged pose, or you can extend that leg out on the floor.

When you feel stretched and ready, you can take this pose up to standing, either in the center of your mat or against a wall. The strap around the foot is a great option and modification for this pose, but if your hamstrings will allow you to straighten the leg, take the peace fingers of your right hand and hook them around the right big toe. Pull the thigh up toward the chest to begin and leave the thigh where it is as you extend the lower leg out and lift the toes toward the ceiling. As a counter balance, extend your left arm over head and lengthen the spine nice and tall, not bending from the hips. As in all balancing asanas, find a drishti by picking a specific spot to hold your gaze on. Hold the pose for as long as you can, and repeat on the other side.

This pose will improve your balance and posture while it opens up the low back, hamstring, calf, ankle and foot. Balancing this way will also strengthen your core if you are conscious of holding the belly in and up. Stand tall and proud and strong.


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