Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose
Begin standing in mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart. Line up the back of your skull with the back of your tailbone, and pick a spot a few feet in front of you on which to focus your gaze. Shift your weight into your left foot and bend your right knee up toward your right armpit, clasping your hands around your shin. Press the top of your left thigh back, keeping your standing leg straight and strong; lift up through your low belly and stay broad through your chest.
Stay here, or bring your right arm inside your right leg and either bind your right big toe with your first two fingers and your thumb, or hold on to the pinky-toe side of your right foot with your whole hand. From here, you can start to straighten your right leg (it doesn’t have to straighten all the way). Prioritize keeping your left (standing) leg straight and strong, and only straightening your right leg to the point where you feel a stretch right at the center of the back of your right thigh (as opposed to up near your sitting bone or down toward your knee). Keep your right foot active, drawing the pinky-toe side of the foot back toward you and extending out through the big-toe side of your foot. Keep your left hand on your hip, or extend your left arm straight out to the side. Continue to lengthen up tall through your spine.
You can also open your right leg out to the side for an externally rotated variation.
Hand to Toe Pose is a challenging and invigorating balance posture with many benefits:
- Stretches hamstrings and hips
- Stretches adductors
- Strengthens back and arm muscles
- Improves sense of balance
- Calms the mind and improves focus