Padangshtasana is one of the poses recommended for the beginners. It is quite a simple pose that gives you a wholesome stretch from head to toe. A balancing pose, it is one the classical poses taught during the early sessions of yoga practice. However, people whose hips are not open or have tight hamstrings may find it difficult to bend forward and hold their toes. Here is a step by step guide to learning this simple yoga pose, referred to commonly as Big Toe Pose.
Practicing Padangushtasana Step By Step
- Stand straight on the yoga mat, soles of the feet placed firmly on the ground, feet separated at 6 inches, parallel to each other.
- Pull your knee caps outward and contract your thighs.
- Keep your spine straight. Keep the head and neck straight.
- Let the hands rest along your body, palms facing the thighs.
- Inhale, and keeping the knees softly bent, and lift your hands over the head, aligned with the ears.
- Exhale and bend forward from the hips, simultaneously bringing the hands forward.
- Keep breathing and with each exhalation deepen the forward bend, allowing your forehead to touch the knees.
- Once in this posture, hold the big toes of respective legs firmly with thumb, index, and middle fingers, thumb covering the toes from above.
- Press the toes into the fingers beneath the sole.
- Inhale and straighten your elbows and knees.
- Exhale and with next inhalation, lift your torso, without exerting pressure on your neck and shoulders and hold the posture.
- To release, exhale, release the torso and bend towards the foot.
- Inhale, release the toes, bend your knees, support your lower back with your hands, and straighten your torso.
- Exhale and take a gently back bend.
- Inhale and come back to starting position.
Those who have back pain or knee injury can keep their knees and elbows bent throughout the time they hold the posture.
Deepening the pose
There are three variations of this pose that allows you to deepen the pose, offering better benefits.
1. Supta Padangushtasana – Reclining Big Toe Pose:
Lie down on the mat and hold the toes with your fingers. While this is a little tough, you can use strap to hold the leg, and lift it perpendicular to the body.
2. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana – Raised Hand Big Toe Pose
This is a fabulous hip opener. Hold the left big toe with your left hand and stretch the leg, while balancing yourself on the right leg. Here again, you can use the strap to stretch as it requires a flexible hamstring, which you can get with practice.
3. Ubhaya Padangusthasana – The V
This is a fabulous core strengthening version of the classical Padangushtasana.
Use strap for holding the poses as it will enable you to get into the pose in a better way and deepen the pose. Once your hamstrings become more flexible you can stop the use of strap.
Benefits and therapeutic applications
The pose offers the following benefits:
- Strengthens you knees
- Massages the liver and spleen
- Creates a balance between mind and body
- Eases hypertension
- Good for osteoporosis and arthritis
- Strengthens bones
- Stretches and strengthens legs
- Massages your digestive system
- Stimulates kidneys and respiratory system
- Eases stress, depression, and anxiety
- Improves circulation to the brain and face
- Calms down brain and eases headaches
- Eases menopausal symptoms
- Helps with insomnia
- Promotes concentration and focus
Poses To Do Before Padangushtasana
Some of the poses you should practice before doing Big Toe pose include:
- Supta Padangusthasana – Reclining Big Toe Pose
- Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose
- Uttanasana – Forward Bending Pose
- Pashchimottanasana – Seated Forward Bending Pose
Padangushtasana As A Preparatory Pose
You can use this as a preparation for getting into Utkatasana – Chair Pose, Trikonasana – Triangle Pose, and
Parsvottanasana – Intense Side Stretch Pose.
Contraindications to Padangushtasana
Avoid this pose if you have a major back or knee injury. People with weak ankles are advised to avoid the advanced versions of Padangushtasana.
Just be a little careful while you do Padangushtasana. The goal is not to just to get your chin to shin, but also to ensure that you are sleeping in a better way without pain on your lower back. Get the alignment right to prevent injuries.