Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose, Supta Padangusthasana, (soup-TAH pod-ang-goosh-TAHS-anna

supta (supine or recline) + pada (foot) + angustha (big toe) + asana (pose)

Also known as: Supta Padangusthasana

Pose Type: Supine,  Stretching, Sciatica, Core Activating

Difficulty: Intermediate

woman doing reclined hand to big toe pose

Release tight hamstrings and soothe the lower back with this Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose

reclined hand to big toe Pose Fundamentals

Learn to keep your spine long, and activate your entire body while lying down in this beautiful supine pose. Reclining Big Toe is a fantastic pose for both strengthening and lengthening leg muscles, and may also help strengthen the abdomen, and release tension from the hips and lower back. 

Thigh muscles can get tight both with over and under use, which makes this pose just as beneficial for athletes as those who sit for long periods of time. This pose helps to improve the range of motion in the thighs, and will also challenge your strength.

However, don’t force your body. In fact, your body will only contract more if you push too hard. The only way to use any asana to increase flexibility is to find a comfortable modification, which you can hold without any pain. Forcing going too deep in this pose will also compromise your alignment, so it would be best to begin with an easier variation, even if you’re an experienced yogi. 

Mentally, the pose can teach you to relax and surrender, especially if you’re practicing a restorative version, with a strap. Also, it helps you learn to listen to your body and to be patient with yourself, as it may take you a while to grasp all the different elements of the correct alignment in the pose. 

Although there is also a standing variation of this pose, lying down in itself will help you relax and release tension. Your upper body is supported by the ground, which will make it easier to let go, but also to keep your spine flat and long.  

It may seem all the importance of this pose lies in the lifted leg, but it’s important to be aware of both the bottom and the elevated leg. Try to not only focus on the movement in the lifted leg, as you won’t receive the full benefit of the pose – instead, find a variation that allows you to put the same amount of awareness and attention into both legs.

In a deeper sense, Supta Padangusthasana activates the Root (Muladhara) and Sacral (Swadisthana) Chakra. In this manner, it may help you feel grounded and connected with both yourself and others, but also balance your creative and sexual energy, and promote emotional stability. 

reclined hand to big toe pose Benefits

  • Strengthens the pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles. It also stimulates the internal organs of the reproductive system, toning them and balancing the hormones. 
  • Since the muscles around the tailbone and the sacrum get contracted in the pose, that may also activate and boost the function of the urinary bladder and rectum.
  • There are many aspects to keep in mind while holding the pose, including the engagement of both the resting and lifted leg, so it may help you work on body and breath awareness.
  • May help release tension and strengthen the hamstrings and quadriceps. The quadriceps of the lifted leg get a good stretch, while the hamstrings are lengthened for the resting leg. The opposite is also true – the hamstring of the raised leg gets strengthened, and the quadriceps of the lying is tightened. Therefore, you may build both flexibility and strength in your legs with the pose. 
  • May help with sciatic pain of the raised leg, as blood flow increases in the hips and the thighs.
  • Strengthens the core, and may help you work on abdominal strength for more challenging core exercises, like Boat pose.
  • By holding the lifted leg, you are also getting a deep stretch in the arms and shoulders.

How To Do reclined hand to big toe pose: Step-By-Step

a gif of a woman on a yoga mat performing reclined hand to big toe pose

How To Get There:

1. Begin lying on your back, in Reclined Mountain Pose. The difference between Reclined Mountain Pose and Corpse pose is that your body is active in Reclined Mountain Pose, as opposed to complete relaxation in Corpse Pose. 

2. Turn your palms towards the floor and place them close to your body. Now, draw the left knee towards the chest. If you are practicing with a strap, loop it around the left foot and hold it with both hands.

3. Keep the bottom leg active, and start extending the upper leg. Regardless of whether you’re practicing with or without a strap, your top leg should be straight. If you’re not able to keep it straight, lower it towards the ground, away from you. 

4. Press your shoulders to the floor, and relax your neck and jaw. Breathe deeply from the abdomen. 

5. Hold the position for around 5 deep breaths, and release to the floor. Move both knees to the chest for a moment, then repeat on the other side. Once you’ve completed both sides, rest in Corpse pose.

Tips And Tricks:

  • Always have a strap by your side. Even if you are sometimes able to perform the full version of the pose, our flexibility can change from one day to another. Having a strap available will help you find a suitable edge for that particular session.
  • If you don’t have a strap, you can also hold your thigh with your hands, but make sure you don’t bend the lifted leg as a result. You can also use a belt or a rolled shirt as a replacement for the strap. 
  • If you struggle with headaches, or feel any pressure or straining in the face muscles or the neck, place a pillow under your head. A pillow can also help you keep your cervical spine in a neutral alignment. 

reclined hand to big toe pose Variation:

Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose Variation: Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose With a Strap

a woman doing Reclined Big Toe pose with strap

This variation is perfect for beginners and those who lack flexibility in the hamstrings for the full expression of the pose and is often done in Iyengar yoga as a passive stretch. Even if you have some experience in yoga already, practicing with a strap can help you master the correct alignment in the position. 

The variation with a strap is also suitable for students who have lower back, hip, or knee issues. Finally, it allows you to stay in the pose for longer, which in turn gives your muscles more time to lengthen and strengthen. 

To practice in this manner, wrap a strap around the sole of the lifted leg, and hold each end with your hands. Bend at the elbow, and walk your hands down the strap, simultaneously lowering the leg away from you, until you can fully extend it. Although this variation challenges your arm strength, your shoulders should still be glued to the floor. 

Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose Variation: One Leg Bent 

If it’s difficult to keep your entire back and both hips evenly on the mat, then try this variation. 

Perform the same action as you would in the full expression of the pose, but rather than keeping the leg that’s on the floor extended, bend it at the knee, bring the foot towards you and press the sole of the foot into the floor. You can also use a strap for the lifted leg in this variation. 

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Not Focusing On The Resting Leg. Although one leg is resting on the ground, you should still engage it. Return it back to the center if it splays outward, and place a palm on the tight if it spontaneously lifts off the ground, to remind yourself to keep it down on the mat. 

Lifting the Hips. Both sit bones should press evenly on the floor, don’t lift the buttock of the elevated leg off the ground. 

Bending the Top Leg.  Avoid bending the top leg, as you will not stretch the hamstring in this manner. Instead, practice with a strap or move the leg towards the floor, away from you, until you can fully extend it. 

Quadriceps, Shoulder, or Hamstring Injury

Avoid the pose or consult with a yoga teacher or a physician before you attempt it if you have any injury in the quadriceps, shoulders, or hamstrings.

Related Poses

Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose II

Extended Hand To Big Toe Pose

Monkey Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Head To Knee Pose

Staff Pose

Bound Angle Pose

Counter Poses:

Knees To Chest Pose

Bridge Pose

Corpse Pose

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

Sara Popović

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