This asana goes by many names. In your textbook, it is referred to as Extended Hand to Foot Pose, Supine. If you completed previous trainings with us, you will have seen it called Reclining Big Toe Hold with the Sanskrit name Supta Pādāngusthāsana (SOOP-tah pad-an-goosh-TAH-sah-nah). Some other names that this pose goes by are:

  • Reclining Straight Leg Stretch
  • Reclining Hand to Toe Pose
  • Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose
  • Supine Hand to Toe Pose
  • Reclined Big Toe Pose
  • Supported Supta Padangusthasana

This is a beginner to intermediate pose depending on how tight you or your students’ calf muscles are. Some students will be able to easily lift their leg and hold onto their toe without the use of props, while others will need to utilize multiple props for comfort. However, since we are using this as a warm-up, and in a Restorative class setting, the use of props will make this asana more enjoyable and encourage proper alignment and form. Blankets, straps, and blocks are great additions to this asana as you start to warm-up the body and prepare for practice.

Some of the benefits for this asana is that it helps open the hips, thighs, hamstrings, groin, knees, and calf muscles. It also helps to relieve backache and sciatica pain as well as menstrual discomfort.

A breakdown of how to practice this asana, along with pictures, is provided in your “RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE” textbook. For an additional visual aid on how to practice this asana with a strap, watch the video below.

For important cues while practicing this asana see the picture below.

(Restorative) Reclining Big Toe Hold - with arrows

As you practice this asana, there are some common adjustments that you will want to keep an eye out for in regard to proper alignment.

Common Adjustments
• Hip coming off the ground
• Inner thighs not rotated properly
• Shoulders not flat / tense
• Head coming off the mat
• Knee locked or hyperextended / Knee of raised leg bent
• Lower back arched or strained
• Neck strained
• Breathing is labored

As seen in your textbook “RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE,” there are different modifications that you can make. Below are some modifications and the types of students that typically benefit from them. Keep in mind that this is a Restorative Yoga class, so these modifications are usually the standard.

Modifications
• Students with a stiff back or hamstrings can either: a) place a strap around the sole of the raised foot to help bring the leg up as straight as possible, b) hold the back of their upper leg instead of their toe, c) practice with their knee to their chest (instead of extending the leg), d) practice with the extended leg’s knee bent, or e) they can practice next to a wall with the extended leg up against the wall.
• Students who have difficulty keeping their bottom leg straight, with their toes pointed to the sky, can practice with the sole of that foot up against a wall. Alternatively, they can keep a hand on the upper thigh to help weigh down their leg.
• Students who experience discomfort in the neck or have high blood pressure can place a blanket, pillow, or bolster under their head and neck to elevate themselves.
• Pregnant students should practice Reclining Vishnu Couch Pose (Anantasana).

Like any asana we practice, there are some contraindications that we should be aware of to ensure that this asana is practiced safely.

Contraindications
1. Students with severe injury to the shoulders, hips, hamstrings, or quadriceps, have diarrhea, bronchitis, or a migraine/headache should avoid this pose.
2. Students with weak legs or hips, or high blood pressure should practice this pose with modification, props, and guidance.
3. Students with muscle cramps should practice with caution.

As reflected in your textbook, the Muladhara or Root Chakra is activated in this asana. However, the Svadhisthana and Manipura Chakras are also activated in this asana. See below for more information on these Chakras.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.

Also reflected in your textbook this asana affects the doshas. See below for the breakdown.

Doshas
VataThis dosha is balanced in this asana
PittaThis dosha is increased in this asana.
KaphaThis dosha is increased in this asana.


Additional information on this asana

  • In the textbook “YOGA: THE PATH TO HOLISTIC HEALTH by B.K.S. Iyengar
    • CHAPTER 5: YOGA FOR STRESS
      • Asanas for Stress
        • Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining leg, foot, and toe stretch)

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