Standing Hand to Foot Balance - Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
(Standing Hand to Foot Balance)

(soup-TAH pod-ang-goosh-TAHS-anna)
supta = lying down, reclining
pada = foot
angusta = big toe

In this yoga pose, only the extended leg leaves the structure of Mountain. Your bellybutton should flatten towards your spine and your hips stay level. This yoga pose is not only a practice of balance, but structural awareness as well.

 


Benefits


Stretches hips, thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves

Strengthens the knees

Stimulates the prostate gland

Improves digestion

Relieves backache, sciatica, and menstrual discomfort

Contraindications/Cautions


Diarrhea

Headache

High blood pressure: Raise your head and neck on a folded blanket.

Performing the Asana


From Mountain, exhale and tuck the right knee towards your chest, balancing.

Gently open the hip out to the right while gazing to the left. Extend from the tailbone pressing earth-wards and the crown of the head. Lift your breastbone slightly for balance and press down through your left foot.

Inhale and straighten the knee, pressing the left heel up toward the ceiling. Walk your hands up the strap until the elbows are fully extended. Broaden the shoulder blades across your back. Keeping the hands as high on the strap as possible, press the shoulder blades lightly into the floor. Widen the collarbones away from the sternum.

Extend up first through the back of the left heel, and once the back of the leg between the heel and sitting bone is fully lengthened, lift through the ball of the big toe. Begin with the raised leg perpendicular to the floor. Release the head of the thigh bone more deeply into the pelvis and, as you do, draw the foot a little closer to your head, increasing the stretch on the back of the leg.

You can stay here in this stretch, or turn the leg outward from the hip joint, so the knee and toes look to the left. Pinning the top of the right thigh to the floor, exhale and swing the left leg out to the left and hold it a few inches off the floor. Continue rotating the leg. As you feel the outer thigh move away from the left side of the torso, try to bring the left foot in line with the left shoulder joint. Inhale to bring the leg back to vertical. Lighten your grip on the strap as you do, so that you challenge the muscles of the inner thigh and hip to do the work.

Hold the vertical position of the leg anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, and the side position for an equal length of time. Once you have returned to vertical release the strap, hold the leg in place for 30 seconds or so, then slowly release as you exhale. Repeat on the right for the same length of time.

Anatomical Focus


Legs and Thighs

Hips and Psoas

Core

Therapeutic Applications


High Blood Pressure

Flat Feet

Infertility

Variations


You may use a strap to extend from the fingers to the foot for assistance.

Also, try standing next to a wall for support mentally and physically. Slowly practice, moving away from it.

Complimentary Poses


Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward-Facing Dog
Uttanasana - Mountain

Tips for Beginners


If you are especially stiff, do this pose with the bottom-leg heel pressed against a wall. It's also useful to position a block just outside the raised-leg hip. Then when you swing the leg to the side, rest it on the block. The support under the thigh will help you soften the inner groin.

Deepen the Pose


If you have the flexibility, you can grip the big toe of the raised leg instead of using a strap. From the starting position, exhale and bend the raised leg thigh into your torso. Use the index and middle fingers and the thumb to grip the big toe. Be sure to reach the arm inside the thigh when you take the toe. Then perform the pose as described above.