Big Toe Pose and Its Benefits

Padangusthasana

A more challenging form of Uttanasana is the symmetrical standing pose known as Padangusthasana(Hand to Big Toe Pose) (Standing Forward Fold Pose).

The grasping of the toe (with the index, middle, and thumb) and the pulling motion of the head towards the knees, both parts of Ashtanga Primary Series, each have unique advantages. The hips, shoulders, knees, and ankle joints stay mobile by involving the core muscles in the forward bend variation. Holding the big toe helps stretch the hamstrings from the gluteus.

STEPS FOR HAND TO BIG TOE POSE:

  • Hands on hips, in Tadasana position (feet together or hip-width apart). Taking a deep breath out, slant your hips forward rather than your waist. Draw your torso forward as you descend to create room between your pubis and top sternum. As with all forward bends, the front torso should be lengthened as you move deeper into the position.
  • With your knees as straight as possible, stoop forward and, using the “yogi grip,” wrap your index and middle fingers around your big toe and join them with your thumb. As you inhale, extend your arms straight out in front of you, lifting your front torso away from your thighs to create the most concave back you can. Hold a few breaths, then exhale and lengthen downward and forward while bending your elbows to the sides. Use your biceps to help you go deeper into the pose.
  • Draw your shoulder blades down your back while leaving room between them and your ears. Lift the sitting bones upward as you plant your heels firmly into the ground. Slightly invert the top thighs.
  • Lift and lengthen the front torso just a little bit with each inhalation in the pose, and with each exhalation, release into the forward bend a little bit more fully.Thus, almost imperceptibly, the torso moves in response to the breath.
  • Let your head hang in the upper back, between the shoulder blades, and at the neck’s root. Take a 20-second break before moving.Release your fingers, bring your hands to your hips, and exhale as you rise with a flat back to exit the pose.

BENEFITS OF HAND TO BIG TOE POSE:

    • Stretches, Strengthens and Lengthens:

In Padangusthasana, gripping the big toe lengthens the back muscles, allowing the back to bend fully to the front. Additionally, while holding the big toe, the lower body’s joints, such as the hips, knees, and ankles, are active thanks to the stretched and elongated hamstrings, contracted and shortened quadriceps, gluteus, and calves muscles. By bringing the head toward the knees to finish the posture, the neck is also stretched, gradually enhancing the power of the shoulders and arms.

    • Flexibility and range of motion:

In contrast to Uttanasana, where the hands are on the floor, Padangusthasana Involves holding the big toes with the first three fingers, which affects the upper and lower bodies differently.

In this intermediate practice, retaining the toe helps develop better balance; with improved balance, the spine may be stretched deeper in a forward bend. Uttanasana practice does help in gaining more flexibility with the hips, shoulders, back, and neck. Additionally, holding the big toe lengthens the glutes and hamstrings, which support the hips and spine and allow for a wider range of motion.

    • Chest, Diaphragm, and Breath:

The inversion in this position improves blood flow to the chest and lungs.

The pressure in the upper body, particularly at the chest, slows the heartbeat and revitalizes the spinal nerves. It allows for the possibility of learning to breathe while the diaphragm is compressed.

With each exhalation, the learner seeks to make a deeper bend as the breath continues at its natural rhythmic cadence. Better breathing reduces the likelihood of injuries by increasing the flexibility of the affected muscles, particularly the upper back, chest, rib cage, and breathing muscles. As a result, the hips and spine are protected while also assisting in holding the posture for longer.

    • Awareness and Concentration:

In Hand to Big Toe Pose, the learner must inhale to stretch the spine before bending forward while fully exhaling. yoga instructors must advise their pupils to fully concentrate on their breathing as they progress and how their joints and muscles move with each breath.

    • Posture and Alignment:

Padangusthasana teaches how to employ the upper and lower bodies symmetrically. The hips, knees, and ankles should align when performing the forward bend.

In addition, bringing the chin or face to the knees, engaging both shoulders equally, aligning the feet correctly, and raising the big toe all work together to complete the pose and guarantee the safety of the practice. These positions, also known as Yogi Toe Lock Pose, aid in bringing the upper and lower bodies into perfect balance and maintaining their alignment.

Hand To Big Toe Pose, with time and repetition, also strengthens the spine, tones the spinal muscles, and addresses concerns with hunchbacks.

    • Energizing, relieving stress, and unwinding:

Pose variations with a forward bend are relaxing and energetic.

Toxins are released when there is more space for prana to move, stimulating the organs, glands, cells, and nerves. Your blood circulation will improve as soon as you release from the stance and go forward.

This further promotes and increases energy while lowering stress and anxiety-related symptoms.

The deep, calm breathing and prana flow reduce tension in the head and neck.

    • Stimulation and Organs:

The forward fold in Padangusthasana Stimulates the pineal, pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, and pancreatic glands, which are all endocrine system-related. The stimulation of these glands is crucial for maintaining the body’s equilibrium.

In Padangusthasana, the lower and upper abdomen experience pressure as the torso folds forward and the abdominal muscles are contracted.

This also aids digestion, liver and kidney function, and abdominal organ function.

    • Balance and Emotions:

As Uttanasana practices, this pose aids in bringing a sense of harmony between the physical and emotional bodies. In addition, the grasping of the toe also stimulates the corresponding meridians. When the meridians or channels are activated, the corresponding organs are energized and kept in equilibrium.

Additionally, because it is an inversion, it promotes blood flow to the brain and heart, further soothes the nervous system, and lessens anxiety.

    • Movement and Systems:

The body must have some physical strength and balance for a prolonged period for the Padangusthasana to be maintained for a prolonged period.

Blood flow to the lower body is somewhat diminished when held for a prolonged period.

But as soon as the big toe is held and the forward bend is released, there is an immediate influx of new blood into the lower body.

Blood partially stopped from flowing in the opposite direction—from the lower body back to the heart and lungs—is also being expelled. The digestive system, neurological system, respiratory system, reproductive system, etc., and circulatory system, are all improved.

    • Others:

The Hand to Big Toe Pose, like Uttanasana, benefits athletes, particularly runners. The hamstrings are fully tensed and extended when the big toe is grasped, supporting the hips and knees and ensuring they are strong enough to absorb any shocks during running.

When done carefully and held for a more extended period, this exercise has the extra benefit of toning the glutes and abdominal muscles, which helps to reduce excess fat, if any.

Contraindications for the Hand to Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana) include the following:

    • Surgery and Injury:

From Hand to Big Toe The joints in the hips, pelvis, knees, ankles, spine, and shoulders all experience a lot of strain when in a pose. Students who have recently suffered an injury or have a history of injury to any of the joints described above should exercise extreme caution or possibly avoid using them altogether.

Additionally, people with a history of a herniated disc should be discouraged from this technique because the hamstrings are pulled from the deeper buttock muscles (gluteus maximus), damaging the spine.

Additionally, the forward bend is pressing on the abdominal region while grasping the big toe, which is made worse by the head pulling toward the head. Therefore, those who have had any abdominal surgery in the past, including a C-section, should exercise extreme caution and move very slowly when stretching.

    • Lack of body breath connections:

Breath awareness is necessary for this pose; the practitioner inhales deeply, lengthens the torso, and then exhales to lower themselves. The practitioner maintains bent knees on the inhalation and straightens the legs on the subsequent exhalation while gripping the big toes with their fingers.

With each breath, students carefully draw themselves toward the knees, giving their entire upper and lower backside a thorough stretch. The deeper tissues or ligaments may become uncomfortable or injured if pupils quickly bend forward or pull their big toes.

    • Physical Strength and Weak Body:

Because this pose requires more physical strength than Uttanasana, you could think about Uttanasana as a warm-up stance for the Hand to Big Toe Pose. Even though students could be reasonably flexible, this exercise tests balance and hip and shoulder stability.

    • Others:

Pregnant women, older adults, women during menstruation, children, etc., should avoid this practice using the precautions outlined in Uttanasana. Additionally, even though it is beneficial for people with sciatica, piriformis syndrome, or disorders connected to plantar fasciitis, extra caution should be given when coming out of the posture, and very extended holds in the pose should be avoided.

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