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"Through self-discipline (tapas), mental impurities are destroyed and the body and senses take on supernatural powers" - Yoga Sutra 2.43 

Yoga is a method which helps in improving the physical, mental and emotional health of an individual.

Utthita hasta padangusthasana is also known as the raised hand to big toe pose. This pose helps in improving the flexibility and strength of the legs. This pose is beneficial in opening the hips and also improves the blood circulation in the lower half of the body.

This asana should not be practised by people with lower back injuries or pain like sciatica.

  1. Steps: the correct way to do utthita hasta padangusthasana
  2. Modifications of utthita hasta padangusthasana
  3. Benefits of utthita hasta padangusthasana
  4. Precautions of utthita hasta padangusthasana

Following are the correct steps to do the utthita hasta padangusthasana:

  • Stand straight with your feet together and relax your entire body.
  • Concentrate on a fixed point in front of you, keeping your head straight. 
  • Now, bend your right knee and bring your thigh as close to your chest as possible.
  • Take the hold of the big toe of the right foot by sliding your right arm around the outside of the bent right knee. Make sure that you do not strain the leg muscles.
  • Once you have held your toe, straighten your right leg in front of your body.
  • With the left arm, try and balance the body. You can perform jnana mudra with your left hand. Jnana mudra is a hand pose where you tuck the tip of the index finger under the tip of the thumb, keeping the remaining three fingers lightly extended.
  • Hold the final leg position for as long as you feel comfortable.
  • While releasing, bend the knee first, then release the toe and slowly lower your foot to the floor.
  • Relax the arms before repeating on the other side. 

There are modifications in the conventional utthita hasta padangusthasana pose which are mostly done by advanced level practitioners. These asanas involve extensive stretching of the muscles at the back of the legs and the hips.

Modification 1

  • Bend your right knee and pull the thigh close to your chest. Rather than holding the big toe, hold the right leg at the ankle with both hands to straighten your leg. 
  • Once you have straightened the right leg, clasp the fingers together and place them behind the ankle.
  • Now with the help of both arms, gently pull the leg as near as possible to the head without straining or bending the knee. 

Modification 2

  • Bend your right knee and pull the thigh closer to your chest.
  • Slide your right arm along the inside of the leg to hold the big toe of the right foot with the hand.
  • Now turn your right knee out to the right and try to straighten your leg to the side.
  • With the left arm, try and balance the body. You can perform jnana mudra with your left hand. 
  • Try to raise the leg but make sure you don’t strain the leg or bend the knee.
  • Hold the final leg position for as long as you feel comfortable.
  • While releasing, bend the knee first, bring the leg back to the centre, then release the toe and slowly lower your foot to the floor.
  • Relax the arms before repeating on the other side.

The benefits of practising utthita hasta padangusthasana:

  • This asana helps in coordinating the muscular and nervous balance. 
  • This pose helps in strengthening and toning the hips and leg muscles.
  • This asana strengthens the hamstring and adductor muscle of the hips. 
  • It also acts as a good hip opening exercise thus providing a good range of motion and blood circulation.
  • This asana helps in improving the balance and strength of the ankles as the entire body is stabilised on one leg. 

There are certain things which should be kept in mind while doing utthita hasta padangusthasana:

  • This asana must be done in supervision. The modifications should not be practised by beginners.
  • People with sciatica pain should not practice this pose.
  • People with a lower back or ankle injury should not practise this pose.
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