Yoga with Melissa 367 How to Balance in Hasta Padangusthasana or Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose

by Melissa West on

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Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose

Today we are continuing our balancing series, with a continued focus on our vestibular, proprioceptive and visual systems. Proprioception means your skin, muscles, and joints all contain sensory receptors (proprioceptors) that are sensitive to stretch or pressure in the surrounding tissues. It helps your brain recognize where your body is in space, even if your vestibular and visual systems are compromised (for example if your eyes are closed or your ears are plugged)

Sensory information about things like motion, equilibrium, and where your body is at in space is provided by something called a vestibular system. Your vestibular system is the part of your ear that includes the utricle, saccule, and three semicircular canals. The utricle and saccule detect gravity and front-to-back or side-to-side movement. In contrast, the semicircular canals detect rotational movement.

With your eyes, your visual system figures out where your head and body are in space and also your spatial location relative to other objects.

Our balancing pose for Yoga with Melissa 367 is Hasta Padangusthasana or Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose. This yoga pose highlights the imbalance that exists between the front and back of your body.

The backside of your body is often referred to as your posterior chain and includes your low back, your glutes, hamstrings and calves. These muscles are long and weak from our endless hours of sitting. Additionally our quadriceps and psoas muscles become tight and short from sitting in chairs for many hours of the day.

Furthermore hasta padangustasana asks us to focus on balance, bringing our body’s center of gravity into alignment with the earth underneath us. Balancing poses liking standing hand to big toe pose ask us to come into physical equilibrium with the ground underneath us. However, as we know from our previous classes on balance, this doesn’t happen by remaining still, rather from rebalancing ourselves through our proprioceptive, vestibular and visual systems from moment to moment.

Coming into balance again and again through balancing postures takes sustained effort. When we are practicing balancing postures, or the lead up poses to balancing postures we are continually centering and re-centering ourselves. The information that travels through our proprioceptive, vestibular and visual systems acts as a kind of tuning fork not only for our balance system but also for our nervous system. When we practice balance we will feel more centered and calm.

Hasta Padangusthasana is a balancing yoga pose that promotes stability as well. In order to stand on one leg you need to have strength and stability through the muscles and joints of your supporting leg. This pose will strengthen the arches of your feet, your ankles, and thighs well lengthening your calves and hamstrings.

Members: I recommend that you do the connective tissue portion of hamstring rescue before this class: 12-28 minutes in the linked video

Props Needed: Strap, Blanket and Wall

Yoga Postures/Asanas: Supta Matsyendrasana or Reclined Bent Knee Twist, Eye of the Needle or Figure Four, Supta Padangustasana or Reclined Hand to Big Toe Pose, Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana, Pigeon or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, Foot Series, Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, Standing Figure Four Pose, Utkatasana or Chair Pose, Warrior One Pose or Virabhadrasana One Pose, Hasta Padangusthasana or Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose, Uttanasana or Standing Forward Fold, Bhujangasana or Cobra, Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Fold, Savasana or Corpse Pose

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