Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)

Iyengar's difficulty rating: 3* out of 60*

Iyengar's Technique:

  1. Stand in Tadasana. Separate your feet about 1 foot.
  2. On an exhale, fold forward at your hips. Hold your big toes between your thumbs and first two fingers, palms facing in towards one another.
  3. Lift your head and stretch your spine into extension - a concave, backbend-like position. Originate this backbend from the tailbone and emphasize anterior pelvic tilt.
  4. With your legs stiff, bend your elbows and fold forward more until your head is between your legs. Pull up on your toes but keep them resting on the floor.
  5. Breathe evenly for about 20 seconds.

Comparing Forms:

  • Iyengar's legs are truly straight. I have a tiny bend in my knees to avoid hyperextension and pain behind the knee joint. Since this photo was taken, I have learned how to use muscle engagement in the hamstrings and calves to straighten the legs completely with no ill effects.
  • Iyengar's weight is closer to his heels, which causes his femurs to angle back and his hips to remain behind his midfoot in space. My weight is towards the front of my feet, which keeps my hip sockets directly above my midfoot.