Believe it or not, before I started yoga, I couldn’t touch my toes.
One of my main ambitions at the start of my yoga journey was to finally reach those little guys with ease.
Though this seems like a straightforward goal, there are some key do’s and don’ts on your quest to reach the toes! Let’s begin. Show me where you’re at.
This is what I often see…
Let’s go over what is “wrong” with this:
- See those straight, locked knees? That’s a recipe for injury.
- What about that round spine and soft core? You’re putting lots of stress on the vertebrae without the core to give you strong support.
- See those rounded, reaching shoulders? Just. One. More. Inch. Nope!
In yoga, there isn’t just one “touch your toes” pose, there are many! Today we’ll go through three different variations for you to try. Let’s begin with ardha uttanasana, half forward bend, because the body position is most similar to what we just picked apart.
1: Ardha Uttanasana
We begin standing with feet hip distance apart, softening the knees into a gentle bend and activate the muscles of the core as you hinge at your hips. Keep the spine nice and long, using your core.
Pause when your hamstrings tell you to, breathing here for 5 to 10 breaths.
Traditionally, you would bring your hands to thighs, shins, or fingertips on either side of the toes at this point, but you are welcome to work your core muscles by hovering gently, active arms above the ground.
If your hamstrings are extra tight, some options to try include widening your stance and/or bending your knees a little deeper, and maybe finding a chair or table for some support for your upper body.
2: Uttanasana (Forward Fold, Rag Doll Variation)
This is my favorite pose to “touch the toes”. It is a more gentle, passive variation than ardha uttanasana (less activation through the core and legs is needed) and is great for stretching the hamstrings and the lower back, as well as relaxation and stress release.
Again begin standing with feet hip distance apart. Deeply bend the knees as you fold forwards at the hips. Bend your knees until your belly touches your thighs – for many this pose looks more like a squat than a forward fold, and if that is the case for you, feel free to tuck a chair under the hips to help support the weight of the torso.
Let your legs support your torso as you relax the crown of the head towards the ground, maybe lifting the hips up to the sky and beginning to straighten the legs a little more. Your fingertips can softly rest on the ground (or your toes! J), or you can clasp opposite elbows, or just let them hang.
Take 10-20 deep breaths here, maybe incorporate a gentle side to side motion through the torso.
3: Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
This one is probably the most “touch your toes” type pose of these three, but can be challenging for many yogis, especially runners, cyclists and hikers.
Again begin standing with feet hip distance apart. Bend your knees as much as you need to hook your big toes with your peace fingers and thumb. From here, remember your form. You are bent at the hips, your core is strong, supporting a long, straight spine. Stay here, or begin to straighten your legs, keeping at least a gentle bend in the knees.
Hips lift up, the crown of the head reaches down, and the elbows bend wide. Take 5-15 breaths here.
Remember that this is a really active pose – all the muscles in the body should be firing – legs are strong and active, torso squeezes to the thighs, arms help lengthen the spine, core is squeezing and supporting – you may sweat here. That is a good thing!
To work towards the hamstring flexibility to reach those toes, try to find a few minutes to do two sets of two of these poses three to four times per week. Maybe even daily…
So there we have it folks. Yet another great Yoga class specially created for you by our Yoga guru, Brogan Kiss. These are some great options for you to reach those pinkies.
See you outside!