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utthita hasta padangusthasana
Photography by jasper johal

utthita hasta padangusthasana

by desirée bartlett
Practice Yoga | Standing asanas

extended hand to big toe pose
how to: utthita hasta padangusthasana

Begin by finding a stable base of support on your right leg. Draw your left knee up to a ninety-degree angle. If you are able to reach your big toe with the first two fingers of your left hand, take hold of the toe and extend the leg. If your fingers do not reach the toe, you can place a strap around the arch of the left foot, and then extend the leg.

With the first two fingers grasping either the big toe or a strap around the sole of your left foot, start to open the leg out to the left. Enjoy the stretch in the hip and the stability of the standing leg. Extend the line of the arms. Enjoy the sense of one long line of energy moving in two directions. When you are ready to come out of the pose, follow the reverse process with a sense of ease and grace. Bring the leg back to the center, bend the knee and release. Then continue onto the left side.

For advanced practitioners, it can be both challenging and energizing to try the sequence with the eyes closed.


Upon scheduling the photo shoot for Yogi Times I had the great fortune to speak with Jasper Johal, a photographic visionary. He had seen a glimpse of my Web site and asked if I was more into yoga, or fitness. My answer was instinctual; I told him that I felt incredibly passionate about both. The worlds of yoga and fitness are the bridges to my work, my joy and my life’s passion.

In the practice of yoga we learn about lines of energy, and it is common to convey the idea of one long line of energy moving in two directions. In my own life, I have committed to bridging two systems of movement, and I use the concept of this “one line” of energy to manifest this bridge. This single line represents the joy of movement, and the two inherent directions in which this line will travel are yoga and fitness.


Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana is a standing balance pose. In standing balance poses, the supporting leg acts as a strong foundation. The stabilizer muscles of the standing leg are being activated and strengthened. From this stable base of support, we can deliver energy up the length of the spine all the way to the crown of the head and beyond. Where energy revitalization is concerned, there is a spiral of prana, or life force, moving skyward. The focus of the extended leg is flexibility, as the external rotators of the hip joint allow for freedom of movement.

On a physical level, the arms are in an isometric contraction. This means that they are working while remaining in the same position. The arms act as an outer expression of anahata, the heart center; and with energy running from the heart center in two directions—to the right and to the left—we are able to share our heart energy with those around us.