Yoga Toe Stand is a challenging pose that can help open hips and strengthen knees, ankles, and abs. Before achieving my first toe stand I had to establish a stronger foundation in standing balances as well as working on postural and core strengthening.
Here are three tips to help with your practice as you get closer to that goal of accomplishing your Toe Stand.
1. Work on standing one-legged balances.
Standing Half-Lotus Pose is a great pose to master first because it helps with your balance, your hip openings, and your core strength. Try to soften your gaze and lock it on one spot that isn't moving. This will stabilize your position in your balance.
Move your ankle to the top and front of your thigh and press your thigh into your ankle and your ankle back into your thigh. Hold this while you breathe fully for at least 5 deep breaths. Repeat this on both sides.
Finally, work on your Half-Chair Pose. Keep your Half-Lotus Pose and flex your foot as you sit your hips back into a standing yogi squat. Lift your chest and steady your gaze as you breathe deeply. Once you have these, you should be ready for the next step!
2. Do some seated hip-openers.
The seated hip opener that has helped me the most for Toe Stand is Double Pigeon Pose (Agnistambhasana). Sit tall and bring your shins stacked parallel with both ankles flexed. Make sure the knees and ankles are lined up directly with each other.
Do not concern yourself with making your top knee touch your ankle. As you begin to open more, the knee will begin to drop and you will become more flexible. This is a deep stretch, so make sure you breathe and do not force yourself further than you are comfortable.
3. Practice Garland Pose.
Garland Pose (Malasana) is a great hip opener that is a perfect posture to do right before you go in to your Toe Stand. From standing at the top of your mat, step your feet to the front corners of your mat, forming a ‘v.’ Shift your weight to your heels, which will remain on the floor.
Keep your chest lifted and your gaze ahead. Take your elbows inside your inner thighs and hold your hands in prayer at heart center for 8 to 12 deep breaths. After this feels comfortable, do this again, but this time stay on your tip toes. This is what will really help your balance for Toe Stand!
When you have practiced all of the above and you feel warm enough to attempt your Toe Stand, start in the same position as you would for Half-Chair. Slowly enter your Half-Chair, but this time with your spine long in Garland position and staying on your toes on one side.
Bring that ankle closer to your abs (like your Half-Lotus) and slowly shift and breathe, taking your time as you balance on your toes.
Remain calm and relaxed and keep practicing, even if it takes you a couple of tries. Once you are warm, you will perfect this beautiful and therapeutic pose that strengthens the joints, helps prevent and manage arthritis, and builds confidence.