In Bikram Yoga, this pose is referred to by the Sanskrit name, “Padangusthasana” (pahd-ang-guhs-TAHS-uh-nuh), which translates to “Big Toe Pose.” However, this is not to be confused with the Ashtanga Vinyasa variation of Big Toe Pose (also called “Padangusthasana”), which is a standing forward fold.
Benefits of Toe Stand Pose
Toe Stand Pose strengthens your abdominal muscles, hips, knees, ankles, and toes. It develops stronger joints, which helps to improve arthritis and knee pain.
Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.
14th century BCE
The intense concentration required helps to create a calm and focused mind. Regularly practicing this pose improves posture, balance, and grace.
Do not practice this pose if you have a recent or chronic knee, ankle, or hip injury. Due its balancing nature, do not practice Toe Stand Pose if you are currently experiencing headaches, insomnia, low blood pressure, or if you are lightheaded and/or dizzy. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your arms at your sides.
- Shift your weight to your left foot, then bend your right knee up toward your chest. Raise your right foot and bring your right heel to rest on the front of your left thigh or hip. The sole of your foot should be facing the sky, and the top of your foot should rest on your leg or hip.
- Allow your right knee to drop down. Bring both hands to the center of your chest in prayer position (Anjali Mudra). This is Half Lotus Tree Pose.
- Slowly hinge forward at the hips, strongly engaging your abdominal muscles to aid your balance. Keeping your standing leg straight, release your hands and place your fingertips on the floor in front of you.
- Bend your standing leg and bring your hips close to the floor. The thigh of your standing leg should come parallel to the floor, and all of your weight should be balanced across the ball of your standing foot. Rest your buttock on the heel of your standing foot.
- Gaze at a single spot on the floor four feet in front of you.
- Keeping your abdominals engaged, bring your left hand to the center of your chest in half prayer position. If it is possible, bring your right hand to meet your left, pressing your palms together.
- Hold for up to 90 seconds.
- To release the pose, place your fingertips on the mat in front of you once again. Slowly straighten your standing leg. Inhale to return to standing, then gently release your raised leg. Repeat for the same amount of time on the opposite side.
Modifications & Variations
Practicing Toe Stand Pose can be a great way to gain leg and abdominal strength, while challenging your concentration and poise. Try these simple changes to adapt the pose to your current abilities.
- Only bring your foot up as far as you can without causing pain. If you're unable to rest your foot on your hip, place it on your standing-leg thigh, instead.
- If you're having trouble coming down to the floor while balancing, practice the pose with your back against a wall for extra support. Alternatively, place a chair next to the standing-leg side of your body. Rest your hand on the chair for extra support in the pose.
- For a greater challenge in the full version of the pose, close your eyes. Practice balancing without using the outside world for reference.
To gain all of the benefits of Toe Stand Pose, try to keep your mind calm while maintaining correct alignment. Here are some tips to help you in the pose:
- Take it slowly. As with all balancing poses, it's easier to enter the pose slowly and with awareness. If you come into the pose too quickly, you're more likely to lose your balance — and it's more difficult to re-gain your balance once it's been lost.
- Keep your spine long throughout the pose, extending through the crown of your head. Imagine that you're trying to touch the ceiling with your skull.
- To help with balancing, keep your standing foot as close to the central line of your body as possible.
- Practicing Toe Stand Pose will open your hips, but tighter hips will make it more difficult to achieve the pose. Add extra hip-opening poses into your practice to help with your flexibility in this pose. Some examples are Bound Angle (or Cobbler's) Pose (Baddha Konasana) and Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana).
Concentrate & Balance
Regularly practicing balancing poses, such as Toe Stand Pose, will increase your ability to keep a clear and calm mind in all situations, both on and off the mat. Adding this pose to your regular routine will open your hips, focus your thoughts, and create beautiful posture and grace that will benefit your mind, body, and spirit!