To hold this balancing position: a ‘still mind makes for a still body’. The best way to focus your mind in this position is to fix your vision on a single point on the floor to help stand fast on the balancing leg. The full name for the posture translates as follows:
"Utthita" — meaning "extended", "Hasta"— meaning "hand", “Pada” — meaning “foot”, “Angusta” — meaning “big toe” and “Asana” — meaning “pose”
How to get into the position
From a standing position, you simply inhale and bring your right knee toward your torso bringing the knee as high as you can (to release the hip) and grasp the foot with both hands. You then exhale and extend the leg out in front of you and fold above the thigh by moving the chest forward and the hips back. The goal of this posture is to hold the leg in the hip (and not to hold the leg by the arm). Do not bend the knee and do not collapse the hip.
Variations to Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana include simply standing with the leg extended out in front of you with the palms on the lower back, to begin with. Once you have mastered this, you can try holding onto the big toe with just one hand (grasping the toe with the first two fingers and thumb).
You hold the position for five whole breaths and then repeat it on the other side for the same length of time. Don’t worry if you fall out if the position to begin with. Balancing postures take time and persistence to master.
Strengthens the legs and ankles and opens the shoulders, arms and hips
Builds muscle tone in the hamstrings at the backs of the legs
Improves balance and concentration levels
Avoid this posture if you have any ankle or lower back issues.