Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose B is a standing yoga posture that is similar to its "sister" pose, Standing Hand to Big Toe (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana). Extending the raised leg to the side, instead of forward, deepens the stretch to the hips and pelvic muscles, while further challenging your balance.
Like its variation, this pose goes by many different English translations, including "Side Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose," "Big Toe Side Hold," and others. This pose is usually practiced directly after Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose without lowering the leg. Keep reading to learn more about this challenging posture!
Benefits of Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose B
There will always be another pose to learn, so… just be present where you are.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B strengthens and tones the thighs, calves, and ankles. It stretches the hamstrings, and opens up the space between the shoulder blades. This pose also opens and strengthens the hips and pelvic muscles. It also tones the abdominal muscles. By testing your ability to balance, this pose requires a calm and focused mind. Learning to balance your bodyweight on one leg, while simultaneously stretching, will help you learn how to remain poised in challenging situations even off the mat.
Do not practice this pose if you have a recent or chronic ankle or low back injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet together and arms at your sides. Breathe calmly. Focus on the present moment. Begin to quiet your mind.
- Shift your weight to your left foot. Slowly draw your right knee up toward your chest. Bring your right arm to the inside of your right thigh. Then loop your index and middle fingers around your right foot’s big toe. Rest your left hand on your left hip.
- Straighten your spine. Strongly engage your abdominal muscles and the muscles of your left leg. Straighten your left leg, but do not lock your knee.
- On an exhalation, extend your right leg forward. Straighten it as much as possible.
- Hold here for a few breaths. If you are comfortable and steady, extend your right leg out to your right side. Keep your fingers locked around your big toe.
- Make sure your spine is straight and your shoulders are relaxed.
- Drop your right hip slightly, so it is in line with your left hip.
- Turn your head to the left and gaze out at the horizon, beyond your left shoulder.
- Hold for 5-20 breaths. To release, bring your leg back to center. Draw your knee back to your chest, then slowly lower your foot to the floor. Come back to Mountain Pose. Repeat on the opposite side for the same amount of time.
Modifications & Variations
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B can challenge your mind as much as your body. Take it slowly. With patience, you will gain flexibility and ease in the pose. Try these simple changes to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- If you can't clasp the toes of your raised leg, practice Standing Open Knee until you have gained more flexibility and strength.
- If you can't straighten your lifted leg while keeping your spine straight, try using a strap instead of holding your toe with your fingers. Wrap a yoga strap around the ball of your foot. Hold the strap in your same-side hand and then straighten your leg.
- For extra help with balance, extend the hand that is on your hip out to the side, parallel to the floor with your palm facing forward.
- To support the lifted leg as you gain strength and flexibility, rest your raised foot along the top edge of a chair, table, or ballet barre. You can also press the raised foot against a wall.
Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose B can be a powerful pose for your entire body. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- It's more important to keep your spine straight and your shoulders relaxed than it is to straighten your lifted leg. You can keep your lifted leg bent or use a strap if you need to, but be sure your spine stays tall and upright throughout the pose.
- Keep your hips level; do not let the hip of the raised leg ride up.
- Keep your gaze and your breath soft.
- Draw your abdominal muscles in and up to help stabilize your body from the core.
- Keep the knee and foot of your standing leg facing directly forward.
- Focus on the stretch, not the lift! Flexibility will come in time. Instead, center your attention on opening the hip of your raised leg.
Extend & Expand
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B will improve your ability to concentrate and focus, even off the mat. Regularly practicing this pose will open your hips, adding grace and poise to your movements. It will calm your mind, and add peace and serenity to your day. Don’t be afraid to fall; simply try the pose again. With dedication, you'll gain all of the benefits of this challenging pose.