Each asana in yoga has multiple benefits physical and mental. One pose has the ability to stretch muscles from head to toe, calm your mind, improve digestion, stimulate your liver and help you sleep better. And, unlike some advanced yoga poses, it doesnt require you to twist in knots, balance on one foot or stand on your head.
Padangusthasana (POD-on-goo-STAH-sah-na), which translates to Big Toe Pose, simply requires folding forward and reaching for your toes.
How to do Padangusthasana
Starting in mountain pose with feet hip width apart and legs engaged inhale. You can either place your hands on your hips or reach for the sky and gaze at your thumbs. As you exhale, fold forward, hinging at the hips and grasp your big toes with your index and middle fingers between your big toe and second toe and your thumb on around the other side.
On the next inhale, straighten your arms and flatten your back to gaze at the horizon. Exhale again, as you repeat the fold, bending your arms to the outside. Reach the top of your head toward the earth.
One key in this pose is to use the strength of your arms to pull up on your toes while you press down with your feet. This opposite pull of forces can help you get deeper into the pose. With each inhale feel your ribcage expand.
With each exhale lengthen your spine by lifting your tailbone toward the sky and the crown of your head toward the earth.
Tips for Beginners
For yogis with tight hips or hamstrings, a strap placed under the arches of both feet gives you something to grab onto instead of your toes. Youll still be able to use the strength in your arms to pull up while pushing down with the balls of your feet.
The strap will also help you to keep your legs straight and avoid the urge to bend your knees.
Getting Deeper into Padangusthasana
Just because you can reach your toes without batting an eye, you can still continue to get deeper into Padangusthasana.
With the muscles of your thighs engaged, rotate your thighs inward from the hip joint. This small movement opens the hips to allow for a deeper fold.
Another subtle difference lies in the abdomen. Draw your navel toward your spine and youll find yourself able to close the space between your chest and your thighs.
As you fold forward, think about getting your hips in line with your feet, but be careful not to lean too far forward.
Theres a temptation to lock the knees in standing positions. Keep your leg muscles engaged but a micro bend in your knees.
Also, keep your gaze soft and behind you to keep your neck relaxed.
Benefits of Big Toe Pose
It might not seem as if something so simple could be so beneficial, but Padangusthasana is. Big Toe Pose can:
- Calm the mind; Relieve stress; Ease anxiety
- Massage internal organs to improve digestion
- Open the hips to release stuck energy
- Improve sleep
Remember, the goal with Padangusthasana is not merely to get your face to touch your legs by rounding your back. Pay attention to form. When you do and when youre sleeping better and feeling calmer you wont care if your chin touched your shin!