Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (UHP) is one of a class of poses my students call “flying poses.” Flying poses are the ones that feel as if they’re expanding your body to its outer reaches. When you’re practicing UHP, or any of the other flying poses, you may even feel that your body is on the barest edge of spontaneously taking flight. It feels fantastic.
All too often though, in UHP we’re working so hard to grasp the foot with our hand that we end up contracting inward rather than expanding outward. If our hamstrings and adductors are on the tight side, our hip joints don’t easily externally rotate, or our legs are a whole lot longer than our arms, the only way we can reach the foot is to bend our knee, crumple up our torso and perform the pose in a way that feels pretty miserable.
That’s where yoga straps enter the picture. By adding length to your arm with a yoga strap, you can reach your foot without sacrificing the natural expansive shape of the pose.
It’s easy. Here’s how:
Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) holding your yoga strap in your left hand. Shift your weight onto your right foot and root it down into the ground. Bend your left knee and loop your strap around your left foot. Place your right hand on your hip. Take a few breaths to balance here. When you feel stable, simultaneously extend your left leg and right arm.
Even though there’s a lot of interesting sensation happening in your right arm and left leg while they are unfurling, do retain a fair amount of your attention in your standing leg. It is, after all, the most important part of the pose. Once your arm and leg straighten, reground your right foot. When you feel stable, begin exploring expanding everywhere—not just in the right arm and left leg, but from your right foot to the top of your head. Breathe deeply, letting your pose expand even more as you inhale. Root and fly.
Take five to ten deep, satisfying breaths. Then return to Tadasana. Take a few breaths to let your body soak in the pose. Repeat on the other side.
Check out our prop guide for more ideas on how using a yoga strap can expand and support your asana practice.