Utthita hasta padangusthasana ‘raised hand to toe pose’ is another challenging hip-opener with the added benefit of balance and coordination. It can be performed with the leg out to the side (pictured above) or with the leg held out straight in front of the body (pictured below).
Stand upright with the feet together and the head, neck, and spine nice and straight. Relax and find stability and ease. Breathe.
Focus your gaze on a fixed point and inhale, bringing the right knee and thigh as close to the chest as possible. Grasp the big toe. Exhale and find your balance here.
When you’re ready, inhale again while lifting the leg and stretching it out – either in front of the body (pictured below) or to the side of the body (pictured above) – as far as it is comfortable to go.
Exhale and find your balance. Inhale again and stretch and raise the leg a little bit farther. Do not strain the leg muscles.
Raise the left arm for balance and hold the pose, breathing deeply, for as long as is comfortable. Remember to keep the spine and trunk as straight as possible.
When you are ready, gently exhale while bending the knee, releasing the toe, and lowering your foot to the ground.
Relax the arms and repeat on the other side of the body.
Improves concentration and coordinates muscular and nervous balance. The hips and leg muscles are strengthened and toned, especially the hamstrings which can have a therapeutic effect on knee and ankle joints.
Avoid this pose if you suffer from sciatica or have any hip issues. Take caution if you have knee or ankle issues and consult a professional if you are unsure of how to perform this asana properly for your body.