Hand to Big Toe Forward Fold -Padangusthasana
Step by step
- Start in Tadasana / Mountain pose with your feet hip width apart. Inhale, bring your hands to your hips.
- Exhale and bend forward hinging from the hips. Keep length in the front body and your legs straight unless you have lower back problems or short hamstrings - bend your knees if so.
- If your hands come to the floor (without straining the hamstrings or lower back), wrap your first two fingers around the big toe, closing with the thumb.
- Inhale, flatten your lower back, straighten your arms and look forward, opening your chest, drawing shoulder blades down along the spine.
- Exhale, release into the forward bend, lengthening from the hips, drawing your torso close to the legs with the grip of your fingers and thumb, your elbows move out to the sides. Press through the toes. Again focus on maintaining the length along the front of the body. Keep the shoulder blades drawn down along the spine, so there is space between the ears and the shoulders.
- Hold for 5 breaths.
- To come out: inhale and again lengthen the spine looking forward as you straighten the arms. Exhaling place your hands on your sides, come up half-way.
- Then with a straight back, inhale, press into your feet and come up fully back to standing.
- When you are folding from the hips think about drawing the lower belly towards your spine and lift your body up and over as if you are folding over a beach ball. This will help to protect your lower back and is especially important if you are already flexible.
- If you can't easily hold your toes, use a strap under the ball of your feet to help you or you can keep working on your Standing Forward Bend/ Uttanasana using as many props as you need.
- Stretches the back of the legs, the hips and spine.
- Balances the nervous system and calms the mind.
- Improves digestion.
- Restores your energy.
Watch out for
- If you have lower back injuries or tight, short or sore hamstrings, this pose should be avoided. You may be able to practice a version with bent legs but check with a qualified professional who can assess you.
- As you lift and open your chest be careful not to tilt your head so much that you compress the back of your neck.
- If holding the big toes doesn't feel right for your body, you can place the palms on the back of the calves.
- Remember to bend from the hips, if that isn’t possible because of short hamstrings, bend your knees enough so you are able to bend from the hips.
- Add on an extra challenge by bringing the weight into the left leg and lifting the right leg out to the side. Stay for a few breaths before changing sides.