Utthita Hasta Padangustasana A-B
Step by step
- Start in Tadasana / Mountain pose
- Take a point at eye level to focus on with a soft gaze.
- Exhale bring the weight on your left foot and lift your right knee up. Reach with your right hand along the inside of your leg for your big toe. Fold your thumb, middle finger and thumb around the big toe. Try to keep your back straight.
- Keep the upper thigh of the standing leg pressing back. As far as possible on an in-breath extend your right leg out to the front, hold for about 5 breaths. It is more important to keep your back straight than it is to straighten your leg fully.
- Keep the shoulders on the back, your chest open and both hips the same level.
- When you are steady, inhale and bring your leg out to the right and look over your left shoulder.
- Stay here for around 5 breaths, concentrating on the breath to help focus the mind.
- Then on the next inhalation bring the leg and head back to the centre. As you exhale lower the foot back to the floor.
- Repeat on the other side.
- When you are starting out with this pose keep the lifted knee bent instead of straightening the leg out. This is also your option if you have tight hamstrings or if your back rounds when you straighten the leg.
- Take this pose in steps. Work on feeling steady in the first part of the pose before you practice bringing the leg out to the side. You can also keep your gaze to the front instead of looking to the side in the second variation,
- Use a wall or the back of a chair to help you with balance.
- Opens the hips and hamstrings.
- Strengthens the legs, ankles and core muscles.
- Improves concentration and focus.
- Improves balance.
Watch out for
- Your ankles – this yoga pose requires good balance and really works the small muscles in the ankles and feet. Try doing some simple ankle rotations after coming out of this pose if you feel the strain.
- Seek advice or supervision with this pose if you are pregnant, or have any injuries to the lower back or ankles.
- If your hamstrings are tight – use a strap looped around the sole of your foot instead of hooking your big toe with your fingers and thumb.
- To deepen the pose work on straightening the lifted leg and bringing the nose to the leg.
- To extend this pose for a longer period, support the raised leg with a chair. Place the chair close to the wall and press your heel firmly into the wall, keeping your leg active.