The Big Toe Pose is designed to subtly lengthen tight hamstrings and make them stronger.
Name in Sanskrit: Padangusthasana
- Strengthens the spine and ankles, and the muscles in ths thighs and calves
- Stretches out the chest and shoulders
- Corrects flat feet
- Stimulates the heart, diaphragm and abdominal organs
The Big Toe Pose should be avoided if you have an injury in your lower back or neck.
HOW TO PRACTICE THIS ASANA
To perform the Big toe pose, start by standing in an upright position with your feet parallel and hip wide apart. Engage the muscles in the front of your thighs and raise your kneecaps. Making sure your legs remain straight, fold over at the hips keeping your neck neutral and moving your head with your torso.
Take your index fingers and middle fingers between your first two toes on each foot. Reach those fingers underneath the big toes while also wrapping your thumb around the toes, gripping them firmly. Put a little bit of weight on your fingers.
Note; If you have to put too much of a curve in your back to get to you toes, thread a strap under the balls of each of your feet and hold on to that instead.
As you inhale, raise your torso from the hips, straightening your arms. As you rise, lengthen your spine. As you exhale, raise your hips upwards, this will hollow your lower back either to a greater or degree or to a lesser degree, depending on how flexible you are. Now, relax your hamstrings and your lower belly, slightly tilting your belly toward your lower back.
Raise your sternum (keeping your spine lengthened) as far as possible. Be careful not to tighten your neck as you raise your head. Keep the forehead and neck relaxed.
As you breathe in the next couple of times, raise your torso further, keeping the front of your thighs engaged. For the next for exhalations, raise your hips, keeping your hamstrings relaxed. Arch your back further with each breath.
Pull your toes upwards by extending your elbows outward and gently bend over further from the hips, making sure your entire torso is lengthened.
Reach your forehead towards your shins if you have hamstrings that are long enough. Do not force this if you have shorter hamstrings as it can damage your lower back and does not help to make your hamstrings longer. Instead, focus on making your torso long as you fold over as for as you can.
Hold the previous position for 60 seconds.
Let go of your toes and place your hands on your hips. Ensure you torso is fully lengthened and, on an inhale, gently raised your torso, coming back to the upright position.
How to do The Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana)
While performing the big toe pose, if you find it difficult to hold your toes without bending your knees, wrap a yoga strap around the arches of your feet and hold on to that instead so that you can keep your knees straight.