Stiff yoga guide: Padangushthasana and Pada Hastasana

If you aren’t sure why we’re running through the first part of the Ashtanga practice, check here or here or here.

Now, on to the next pose(s) and the variations I’m trying: Padangushthasana and Pada Hastasana.

So not where I’m at; via

This may be boring and obvious, but here goes:

  • As with all parts of both Suryas, I’m focused on keeping my legs straight to isolate my hamstrings as much as possible. Trying to push through the big toes to encourage internal rotation of my legs is key.
  • I am not reaching for my toes and not going anywhere near putting my padas under my hastas (TM — Tim Miller). I’ve got my hands about mid-calf.
  • I’m constantly fighting the feeling that I’m rocking back on my heels.
  • While I’m trying to keep things simple, this is a pose where the bandhas are important. As some commenters on this series of posts have noted, stretching the way I am — legs so rigidly straight — can be tough on the lower back. Ensuring there’s support in the core, I’m finding (no surprise), is key.
  • I’m staying folded forward for 10 breaths — but not moving from one “pose” to another.

I bet you can guess which pose comes next.

Posted by Steve

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

16 thoughts on “Stiff yoga guide: Padangushthasana and Pada Hastasana”

  1. You really ought to consider postin a photo of yourself in each asana. It might help us diagnose your problems. Its hard to believe youre so stiff after so much practice. Just a thought.

    1. I just can’t even imagine doing that. But I’m also not necessarily seeking any aid — just suggesting some tweaks that are working for me that others might want to pass on to anyone they know who may be resisting giving it a try.


  2. From one fellow stiff person to another: I’ve found that my hamstrings have responded well to making sure my legs are very strongly engaged in the front thighs, inner rotation is happening, and then the top half of the body is relaxed and just drapes down off of the strong base. I like to yank with my shoulders. Bad Lady. Michelle from Florence Yoga told me to think ‘dancers arms’ when reaching in forward bends, which basically means floaty and relaxed not using them to pull myself down. Much.

    Anywho. I offer this up because my own stiffness and hamstring issues are definitely improving and this after nearly seven years of practice. It takes as long as it takes.

  3. What about the bandhas? My thought is you are bending at the waist and not the hips. What’s the difference if the hips are frozen? Go back to cat cow. Move from the tailbone and hip flexor as a unit. In the anusara world they use a muscular engagement of skin to muscle to bone – press the sides of the shins into the midline fingers pointing downward. Knees pulled up. Slight inner rotation of the thighs not to conflict with sitz bones pulled into each other. Do a thigh stretch prior to the cat cow. The key here for me is to lower with good alignment prior to going for gusto (ego). This will release the hips which will eventually allow the hamstrings to come to full extension. But keep the eccentric contraction in the quads as you fold forward in the hips – I have my students put their fingers on the tops of their thighs to encourage this subtle but necessary movement. Let me know if it helps…

    1. Bandhas are working as much as they can be; and I do think I’m bending from the waist — that hasn’t been an issue/problem. And the limited range of motion is because of the attempt to keep the best possible alignment.


      1. I feel like this so nicely illustrates my point about too much info. I really don’t have a good idea of what’s the difference; I know I’m doing it “right” because I’ve had any number of teachers assist me, and most lately Bobbie’s watchful eye. You bend from the top of the femurs, right? Is there any other way if one thinks about it? I’m not sure.


  4. It sounds like we share many of the same physical challenges. I have noticed a huge change in my practice since I started doing the chandra krama(- Matthew Sweeney) practice every other day. This adds a lot of lower back and hip work to my practice (there is a lot of 2nd series in this practice). I have also noticed big advances in my practice doing this practice 2 times a day minimum it really opens you up. I know it’s not in the new tradition of ashtanga practice but it’s working for me.

    1. I’d also suggest this for opening up the back it has really helped me a lot you can turn the block length wise and move it up between the shoulder blades to open the upper back or lower down for the lower back. Sometimes i’ll do the hip openers above and this before starting my practice and it really seems to help especially if you sit a lot during the day writing.

      1. To a certain extent — which I guess I’ve been unwilling to do — the argument could be made I just need to be stretching a lot, lot more. Sigh.

        Some people really like that Sweeney guy. I don’t know enough, but I probably am not sold on him.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s