Let's face it, balancing on one leg is hard work. But add a leg extension in the air to the mix? Be prepared to fall over a few times before you get it right.
Most people think that the point of this posture, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana is to extend the leg all the way. While it actually translates to “Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose”, we often call it Standing Leg Extension because that's what it looks like.
However, the most important thing in any pose is to keep the spine and the heart open so the breath can flow freely. Then, balance and extension will come naturally over time.
In the beginning, you may try to grab your foot with your hand, rounding the spine over the leg in the air. You may even be able to straighten the leg here! But it won't get you very far, and chances are... the breath doesn't feel so great either.
So here's where a yoga belt comes into play! Grab yours here today.
How to use a yoga belt for Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
1. Make a small loop with the yoga strap by looping the end underneath both metal buckles, then over top of one and underneath the other so it is locked in but still adjustable.
2. Place the strap over the foot you wish to start with and begin to shift your body weight into the opposite foot.
3. Ground down through the standing foot by pressing the big toe into the floor and begin to pick up the opposite knee by bending it into the chest.
4. Hold the strap with the same hand as foot and place the other hand on the hip to keep them square.
5. Stack the shoulders over the hips and begin to kick the foot forward. It's okay if the knee does not straight all the way! Keep the spine long first and foremost as you work on your balance.
6. Steady your gaze on a single spot and begin to open the leg out to the side like a door on a hinge. Keep the shoulders and hips square.
7. Remain balanced on the standing leg without leaning over to the side.
8. Finally, return the leg back to center and release.
The yoga belt is so amazing for this pose because it makes it accessible to anyone! It is a challenging posture both with and without the yoga belt. When you modify a posture with a yoga prop, such as this strap, it trains your body to understand the correct position to be in so that slowly over time you may one day be able to do it without it. But again, the beautiful thing is that a strap is a helpful tool here, designed to support and open the body so you can become stronger and more flexible at the same time!
Try our yoga belt today and give this pose a try. Let us know what you think! See you on the mat.