Why Hold The Big Toe In Yoga Poses?

Our big toes play a big role in our asana practice, they help us balance in standing poses and we keep them engaged and active in seated poses. But why do we hold them? One possibility could be our meridians… ⠀

In traditional Chinese Medicine there are 12 Principal Meridians in the body which Qi (or Chi) flows through, like energy pathways. ⠀

When a meridian gets blocked qi can't flow, stagnation occurs, and the health of the organ is compromised. The two meridians of note when it comes to the big toes are the Liver & Spleen meridians.⠀

Liver Meridian
The route of the liver meridian: starts at the inside edge of the big toe, runs on top of the foot, front of ankle, inner calf and thigh to pubic area, into the stomach, liver and gallbladder. Signs of imbalance in the liver meridian include pain in lower back and abdominal area, mental disturbances. Also you may feel frequent or unreasonable anger and frustration.⠀

Spleen Meridian⠀
The route of the spleen meridian: starts at the outside edge of the big toe, inside of the foot, ankle and shin. It runs just in front of the liver meridian up the inner thigh and the enters abdominal cavity, connecting to the spleen and stomach. Signs of imbalance in the spleen meridian are stomach problems, bloating, and flatulence. You may feel frequent or unreasonable worry and anxiety.⠀

The Big-Toe Hold & Yoga Poses 
The liver and spleen meridians both start in the big toe. So when we wrap our thumb and first two fingers around our big toe in postures, we yogis also have the ability to stimulate and balance our spleen and liver meridians.⠀

These poses include Supine Big Toe Hold, Extended Standing Hand-to-Big-Toe Hold and Prasarita Wide-legged Forward Bend. You can also add a big toe hold to Triangle or Standing Forward Fold.⠀

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