Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing yoga for life.

Big Toe Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


Padangushthasana, also known as "Big Toe Pose," relieves tension all the way from the calf muscles, the back of the thighs, the hamstrings and up into the lower back as well. This pose is an excellent preparation for more advanced forward bends.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits

Padangushthasana

(Pronounced as "PAAD-AANG-goosh-TAAH-sanna")

Pada means "foot," and angushtha means "big toe." Hence, the pose is literally to stand on your feet and hold your big toes.

How to do Big Toe Pose

Step One:

Stand up straight and put your feet about one foot length apart. The outside edges of your feet should be straight so that your feet are perfectly parallel to each other, and you can turn the toes slightly in. Now squeeze your thigh muscles to pull them up from your kneecaps, and you need to keep your thigh muscles active for the entire duration of this pose.

Step Two:

Inhale, then exhale as you bend down over your straightened legs and grab your big toes. Grip your toes tightly by placing your index fingers and middle fingers underneath your big toes and then wrapping your thumbs around the tops of your toes. Press the weight of your toes down onto your fingers.

Step Three:

Now without releasing your grip on your toes, straighten your arms and bring your head up to look straight ahead. While lifting your head, push your pelvis slightly back as you pull your chest forward. Extend your whole back straight. Let your stomach drop down as you gently arch your lower back.

Step Four:

Lift up the top of your chest sternum high enough so that your chest can expand fully as you keep breathing. Lift your head up, but do not lift it up so much that you push it back and compress your neck. Breathe in a relaxed way, and don't tense your forehead.

Step Five:

Expand your chest even more by opening your shoulders, rotating them away from each other. On each inhalation, pull your chest forward and elongate your spine. On each exhalation, let your belly drop down further and make your lower back more concave until it feels like you can touch your upper thighs with your belly.

Step Six:

Now with one long exhalation, bend forward and down from your pelvis. First your belly will begin to press against your thighs, then your chest comes down, and your head comes down last. This order is important so that you reach the full extension from your lower back. Let your elbows bend outward from your sides as you pull your toes.

Step Seven:

If you have the flexibility to go deeper into the stretch, then pull your forehead against your shins. Otherwise, just hold the stretch while keeping your back as straight as you can. Do not force yourself to stretch more if your back is hunching because that means that your hamstrings are not getting the full benefit of the pose.

Step Eight:

Remain in the pose for up to one minute. Then on a deep inhalation, keep your thigh muscles engaged and knees straight as you roll up your lower back first, then your middle back, then your chest and finally raise your head last.

Beginner's Tip:

If you cannot reach your toes, then you can place a yoga belt underneath the balls of your feet and hold both ends of the belt to help gradually pull yourself further down as you hold the posture.

Big Toe Pose Information

Sanskrit Name

Padangushthasana

Pose Level

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

Do not practice this pose if you have neck injuries, a recent back injury or inflammation in your lower back. Women who are menstruating should also refrain from doing this posture.

Big Toe Pose Benefits

  1. Promotes the flow of oxygen to the head, calming the brain and nervous system
  2. Improves circulation in the liver and kidneys
  3. Relieves tension in the hamstrings and calves while strengthening the thighs
  4. Enhances digestion
  5. Assists in alleviating some symptoms of menopause

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Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
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Firefly Pose
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Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
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High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
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Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
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Sphinx Pose
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Tree Pose
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Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
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Easy Pose
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