Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana)

Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (also called Standing Leg Extension or Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana in Sanskrit) is a challenging balance posture that requires the spine to remain upright with open hamstrings.

Variations of this Hand-to-Big-Toe are available for all levels. A strap is often used to modify when needed.

The standing foot is also very important, as it is the only thing making contact with the floor to support the body.

This pose is important because it creates stabilization in the body by challenging your balance on one foot. It is a strengthening posture for the legs and core in particular while stretching the hamstrings.

Since your leg is being held in the air at a 90-degree angle (or higher in some cases), it will also strengthen the ankles and the hip flexors.

It is important to remember to not sacrifice the back rounding to straighten the leg or get it higher. If this happens, bend the knee to keep the spine long.

How to Do Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Start by standing on the left leg and place your left hand on your hip as a reminder to keep your hips square and pointing to the front.

Step 2

Bend your right knee toward your chest without dropping the shoulders forward.

Step 3

Grab your right big toe with your index and middle fingers and the palm of the hand facing inward. If you cannot reach the foot, loop a strap around your foot instead.

Step 4

Begin to extend the leg by pressing the foot away from the body. If the leg does not straighten all the way, that is fine. Don’t sacrifice good alignment.

Step 5

Then, open the leg out to the right side. Here it is very important to ensure the leg does not over rotate and pull the left hip with it, causing the body to be off balance.

Step 6

The final variation is to turn the head and gaze over the left shoulder.

Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose Benefits

  • Strengthens the ankles, legs, and core
  • Stretches the hamstrings
  • Improves balance
  • Better focus and concentration