Big Toe Pose or Padangusthasa (PAH-DAHN-goos-TAH-sah-nah) is an excellent asana to make your body flexible, stronger, and improve its balance. The asana gets its meaning from Sanskrit terms ‘pada’ meaning foot, ‘angustha’ meaning big toe, and ‘asana’ meaning pose.
Also known as the Big Toe Pose yoga, it works on your legs, ankles, and hamstrings while activating your hips, arms, and shoulders.
Begin in mountain pose but with the feet hip distance apart. Arms are alongside the body.
On an inhale, circle the arms up towards the sky while stretching the body upwards as well.
On an exhale, maintain a long spine, fold forward from the hips and bring your hands to the earth. (For tight hamstrings or stiff lower back, bend the knees to comfort).
Grab a hold of your big toes by bringing the index and middle finger (peace sign) underneath the toe and the thumb on top of it. Create tension by trying to use the fingers to lift the toe up as you press the big toes into the fingers. Straighten the legs as much as you can without hyperextending the knees.
Elbows are bent and point outwards. The shoulders are away from the ears and the arms remain relaxed.
With every inhale you lengthen the spine and with every exhale fold a little bit deeper into the posture.
To release, let go of the grasp and remain folded forward for a breath or two. Then gently start to roll back up vertebrae by vertebrae.
Benefits and Contraindications
Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and anxiety
Stretches the hamstrings and calves
Stimulates the liver and kidneys
Strengthens the thighs
Helps relieve headache and insomnia
Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
Sciatica or abdominal hernia
High blood pressure
Ankle, knee, hip or lower back issues
Photo poses in different angles
Modifications, Props and Tips
Tips for beginners
Beginners will likely find this pose challenging. Holding your big toes while keeping your legs straight and the natural curves in your spine is a difficult task.
Take your time. Don’t be in a rush to practice this pose with straight legs. Modify the pose by bending your knees as much as you need to to hold your big toes.
This will make it easier to hold your toes. It will also allow you to tilt your pelvis to help bring the natural curves to your lower back (and your entire spine). That’s why bending your knees is a great modification to help you work your way through the two most common misalignments.
If you can’t hold your big toes with straight legs
You can either bend your knees as much as you need to so you can hold your toes, or use a yoga strap under the balls of your feet. If you have access to two yoga straps, you could even make small loops in each strap and wrap them around your big toes, holding one strap in each hand. This will help recreate the form and actions of Padangusthasana better than using one strap under both feet.
If you are in your late second or third trimester
You may want to avoid this pose — your belly could get in the way. However, you also may want to keep practicing this pose. It’s your practice and your body. You are a better judge of what is right for you than I am. If you can get your feet wide enough apart so your belly does not press into your thighs, that will help make this pose more accessible.
A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it.
In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings.
After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva.
To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics.
Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga.
At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.