Step-by-step instructions for Padangusthasana and Pada Hastasana
Ashtanga Yoga is a beautiful systemized practice with a set sequence of postures to follow, consistently, over time. Regardless of what sequence the practitioner is working on, be it primary, intermediate or advanced, we always start with Sun Salutations A and B and foundational standing poses.
Once you’ve completed the Sun Salutations sequences, we begin the Ashtanga Yoga standing sequence. The very first two postures from the standing sequence are Padangusthasana (Big Toe Posture) and Pada Hastasana (Hand to Foot Posture).
Let’s explore how to safely practice these foundational standing postures from the Ashtanga yoga system.
Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose):
Step 1: Begin in Samasthiti (Equal Standing Pose), standing tall with your feet together, heels and toes touching, and your arms by your side.
Step 2: Take a deep inhale and as you exhale, engage your core and bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight and your knees slightly bent.
Step 3: Reach down and place your index and middle fingers around your big toes, wrapping them from the inside of your feet, and then take hold of your big toes with a firm grip.
Step 4: Inhale and lengthen your spine, lifting your chest and looking forward.
Step 5: Exhale and fold deeper into the forward bend, bringing your forehead towards your knees, while maintaining your grip on your big toes.
Step 6: As you hold the pose, focus on maintaining a long spine and relaxed shoulders. You can also gently pull on your big toes to deepen the stretch.
Step 7: Stay in Padangusthasana for 5 deep breaths, gazing to your toes, engaging mula bandha.
Step 8: To release the pose, release your grip on your big toes as you inhale and lift your torso.
Pada Hastasana (Hand to Foot Pose):
Step 9: Exhale as you move to place your hands underneath your feet.
Step 10: Inhale again and lengthen your spine, looking forward.
Step 11: Exhale and fold deeper into the forward bend, bringing your forehead towards your knees.
Step 12: As you hold the pose, focus on maintaining a long spine and relaxed shoulders. You can use your hands to press down on the floor and draw your forehead closer to your knees.
Step 13: Stay in Pada Hastasana for 5 deep breaths. Be sure to engage mula bandha and gaze to your toes.
Step 14: Inhale and lift your torso half-way, looking forward. Exhale bring your hands to your hips and stand up, coming back to Samasthiti.
Tips for Practicing Padangusthasana and Pada Hastasana:
- Practice these poses with a steady and focused breath. Breathe deeply and evenly throughout the practice, using deep breathing with sound. If you are brand new to the practice, refer to our post on Ashtanga Yoga breathing (insert link here).
- Keep your knees slightly bent if you feel any strain in your hamstrings or lower back. It is safer to maintain a straight back than to force yourself into a forward bend with locked knees.
- If you have tight hamstrings, you can keep your hands at your shins and grip your fingers around your legs to help bring more tensegrity into the posture.
- Remember to listen to your body and honor where it can go right now.
If you’d like to practice along to our tutorial video breaking down these two Ashtanga yoga postures, tap here to access our YouTube tutorial on Padangusthasana and Pada Hastasana.
Practice with Krista
If you want to join Krista for live classes, she offers virtual and in person classes every weekday morning. She also offers virtual or in person private sessions (Yoga, Meditation, Breath-work, Nutrition, Life Coaching and Mentorship). Visit theyogashala.org for details.
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Krista Shirley is a level II authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher and she is deeply passionate about sharing these teachings with all who wish to learn.
We hope you find this video series helpful to you in creating or maintaining your at home yoga practice!
YOGA ASANA SERIES: VIDEOS 1-6
Yoga Series Video 1: The Foundation – Breathing, Bandhas, Drishti and Sun Salutation A
Yoga Series Video 2: Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga Finishing Sequence
Yoga Series Video 3: PRACTICE YOGA WITH KRISTA: Sun Salutation A & Modified Finishing Sequence
Yoga Series Video 4: Sun Salutation B
Yoga Series Video 5: PRACTICE Sun Salutation A & B and modified Finishing Sequence with Krista Shirley
Yoga Series Video 6: How to Hold Your Spine in Space
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