Padahastasana (Hand Under Foot Pose)

Iyengar's difficulty rating: 6* 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. Without bending your knees, place your hands under your feet with your palms facing up and touching your soles.
  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. Leverage yourself into the shape by pulling your palms up into your soles.
  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 is able to fold into this position more deeply than I. His hands are so far beneath his feet that he curls his fingers up and around the outside of his ankles.