Lotus Pose is a seated meditation posture in yoga. In Asia, the lotus is a symbol of enlightenment and perfection. That’s why you will see many statues of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, Shiva, a Hindu god, and some other gods in this position. As a yoga asana, lotus is a challenging posture because it requires a high range of motion of the hips.
But, you can access this posture and enjoy its benefits through practicing a variation, which is the Half Lotus Toe Balance.
- What is Half Lotus Toe Balance?
- Benefits of Half Lotus Toe Balance
- Improves Your Balance
- Improves Mobility of Ankles and Hips
- Improves Your Awareness
- Improves Your Core
- 5 Preparatory Poses for Half Lotus Toe Balance
- Tree Pose
- Toe Sit
- Goddess Pose
- Malasana (Garland Pose)
- One-Legged Chair or Standing Figure Four
- Steps to Do the Half Lotus Toe Balance
- Modifications and Variations
- Safety and Precautions
- Knee and Ankle Pain or Injury
What is Half Lotus Toe Balance?
The Half Lotus Toe Balance, also called by the names Half Lotus Tip Toe Balance, Half Lotus Tree Pose, Toe Stand, or in Sanskrit, Padangustha Padma Utkatasana, is a standing yoga pose. It is commonly practiced in Hatha Yoga and Bikram Yoga. The half lotus toe balance is appropriate for intermediate-level to advanced-level yogis because it is challenging.
The half lotus tiptoe balance requires you to balance on the toes of one foot while the ankle from the opposite leg is resting on top of the thigh. Before practicing this pose, make sure your ankles, hips, and core are warm.
Benefits of Half Lotus Toe Balance
Half Lotus Toe Balance is challenging, but it comes with great benefits. These are:
Improves Your Balance
Padangustha Padma Utkatasana is a balancing standing pose. Whatever you do that challenges your balance will improve it. So the more you will do this pose, the easier it will become for you because you are building strength and improving your flexibility.
Improves Mobility of Ankles and Hips
To stand on your toes requires mobile ankles. To externally rotate the hips requires mobile hip joints. The only way for your mobility to improve is to practice poses and do exercises that will stress your joints. The half lotus toe balance will give your joints that stress to improve their range of motion.
Improves Your Awareness
In a toe stand, there is no way but to focus so you can stay in the pose for a few rounds of breath. It’s a challenging pose. So you have to be very aware of what muscles to contract and where to gaze to help you focus.
Improves Your Core
Every balancing pose requires engaging the core. The half lotus toe balance will improve your core strength.
5 Preparatory Poses for Half Lotus Toe Balance
Before attempting a half-lotus toe balance or a toe stand, it’s crucial to prepare the body. These five preparatory poses below will warm up and strengthen the muscles and joints needed to posture.
Tree Pose is a single-leg balancing pose. It will warm up and strengthen the leg muscles. It will also open the hip, which you need to do the half-lotus toe balance.
Toe sit is a yin yoga pose that you can use to prepare for a toe stand. It will stretch your calf muscles, muscles in your feet, and the knees. It will also strengthen your core.
Goddess Pose has the same benefits as a half-lotus toe balance, except you do it with both legs. It will stretch out the legs and open up the hips. It will also strengthen the leg muscles. Raise your heels when in Goddess Pose to improve your toes’ strength which will help you nail a toe stand.
Malasana (Garland Pose)
Malasana is a deep squat. It will strengthen your legs, open the hips, and improve the flexibility of your ankles. These benefits will help in accessing a half-lotus toe balance.
You can also do another variation of the malasana, in which you bring your heels up to prepare the toes for the toe stand.
One-Legged Chair or Standing Figure Four
The one-legged chair or a standing figure four is very similar to a half-lotus toe balance. The only difference is you are standing on one foot and not on the toes. This pose is perfect for those who don’t have enough flexibility in ankles and knees to come down to a toe stand.
Steps to Do the Half Lotus Toe Balance
Once you finish warming up and practicing the preparatory poses, it’s time to do the Half Lotus Toe Balance finally. Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to do it.
- Stand in Mountain Pose. Make sure to engage all the muscles in your legs, including your feet. Spread your toes wide to do that and lift your arches.
- Inhale to lift your arms up and slowly hinge from your hips, and bend your knees. You are now in chair pose. Then exhale and bring your palms together at the heart center.
- From the chair pose, shift your weight to your right leg and bring the left ankle on top of your right thigh or in your right hip crease if possible. You are now in a single leg chair pose or a standing figure four.
- From standing figure four, slowly bend your knees more so your glutes can come down close to the ground. Then, lift the right heel to stand on your toes. You can use your hands or fingertips to help you anchor yourself when you wobble.
- Gaze forward and stay in this pose for at least three breaths.
- Repeat on the other leg.
Modifications and Variations
Everyone’s flexibility and strength are on a different level. So if you need to modify the pose to make it more accessible or challenging, you can do these modifications:
To Make It More Accessible,
- If you cannot bring the foot in front of the hip crease, or if you can, but it’s painful on the knee, bring the foot on the thigh instead.
- If coming down to the floor is not accessible, stay in One-Legged Chair Pose or Standing Pigeon Pose. You may also use the wall or a bar to support you when going down.
To Make it More Challenging,
- Stay in the pose for at least eight to ten rounds of breath.
- Bring the arms up or to the sides.
- Close your eyes while holding the toe stand.
Safety and Precautions
The Half Lotus Toe Balance is an intermediate to advanced level yoga asana. Therefore not everyone can and should do it. You shouldn’t do it if you are/have:
Knee and Ankle Pain or Injury
The half lotus toe balance will flex your toes and your ankles. If you have pain there, this pose may likely aggravate it.
Pregnant women should avoid doing the toe stand, especially when they are six months pregnant and up. The relaxin hormone is high during pregnancy. As a result, pregnant women may not contract the muscles properly and may lose balance.
People who are currently having headaches should avoid practicing the half-lotus toe balance pose. Whatever is the cause of your headache, may it be low blood or high blood pressure, or nausea, you should take caution when doing a balancing pose.
The half lotus toe balance will enlighten your mind and body as it develops your mental focus and increases your physical strength and flexibility. Before you do it, though, make sure to always warm up. Most importantly, modify the pose if you need to.