After an entire day of being on your feet, a long jog, or even just when you’re feeling tired, the thought of standing and stretching might be too much to bear.
Enter Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose, or Supta Padangusthasana, a supine stretch that is excellent for beginner yogis as an introduction to opening up through the hamstrings, as well as the perfect preparatory pose for Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana).
Although it may seem like the pose is all about the extended leg, it is actually the interplay between the bottom leg and the extended leg that come together harmoniously in the body, which reminds us again what makes the practice of yoga so beautiful!
Benefits of Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose offers a stretch to the hips, thighs, hamstrings, and calves, and strengthens the muscles around the knees. The pose also improves digestion, and can help to relieve lower back pain.
As mentioned above, Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose is an excellent option for beginner yogis as the supine position offers a safe way to stretch the hamstrings without putting any stress on the spine or low back.
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose Step-By-Step
- Begin lying comfortably on your back in a supine position with your legs extended straight down on the mat in front of you.
- Exhale to bend your right knee in to your chest and interlace your fingers around either the back of your right thigh, the back of your right calf, or hook on to the big toe of your right foot with the pointer and middle finger of your right hand. The option you choose to take will be dependent on the level of tightness you feel in your leg. If holding on to the right leg is too much, loop a strap around the ball of your right foot and hold on to the ends of the strap with each hand.
- On an inhale, begin to extend your right leg as straight as you comfortably can, directing your right heel up toward the ceiling. Notice that the buttocks and hips have a tendency to lift, and instead lengthen your tailbone down into your mat to maintain the natural curve of your low back—this may deepen the stretch in your hamstrings!
- Extend out actively through the heel of your left foot, and press your left leg firmly down into the ground. If the stretch feels too intense, an option here is to bend your left knee and place the sole of your left foot down on the mat.
- Allow your shoulder blades to soften down into your mat and broaden across the collarbones. Keep your gaze soft and your jaw relaxed.
- Hold the pose anywhere from 5 to 20 full, deep breaths. On an exhale, gently bend your right knee into your chest and then release your right leg to the ground. Whenever you feel ready, repeat the pose on the other side.
- If a yoga strap isn’t available, a belt, tie, or even a towel can all serve as alternatives.
- It is often helpful to learn the strong action of the bottom leg in this pose by practicing this pose with the sole of the lower foot pressing against a wall. This is also a good option for those who are particularly stiff in the hamstrings.
- Tucking a folded towel or blanket under the head can help maintain the natural position of the cervical spine and protect the neck in reclined positions.
- If you are able to comfortably hook on to the right big toe with the pointer and middle finger of the right hand, try opening the extended right leg over to the right side for a different variation of this pose (called Supta Padangusthasana II).
How did you like practicing this pose? What parts did you struggle with the most? Share your experiences and thoughts with me below!