Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing and teaching yoga for life.

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


For lower back pain and stiff hamstrings, nothing beats Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose, also known as Supta Padangusthasana.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations Partnering

Supta Padangusthasana

(Pronounced as "soup-tah POD-ANG-goosh-TAHS-anna")

Breaking down the original Sanskrit words into English, supta means "lying down," pada means "foot," and angusta means "big toe."

How to do Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose

Step One

Lie on your back on top of your yoga mat. Stretch out both of your legs straight on the floor in line with your torso. You can put one folded blanket underneath your head if you feel discomfort while lying your head on the yoga mat. Inhale as you lift your right leg up with your right knee bent. Keep your left leg stretched out straight on the mat, extending through your left heel. Rest your left hand on top of your left thigh. Keeping your left hand on your left thigh helps you maintain the awareness of keeping this thigh straight and firm as you continue working in the pose.

Step Two

Put the loop of a yoga belt around the top of the arch of your right foot. Hold the end of the belt in your hands as you straighten your right leg up in the air. Try to lift the right leg until it is straight and perpendicular to the floor. When you have stretched your lifted leg to its maximum, then take a few breaths. Now let your arms slide down the belt so that you tuck your shoulder blades into your chest, pulling the belt from your middle-back muscles instead of from your shoulders.

Step Three

It is easy to think that once you start feeling this intense stretch, you cannot go further. However, you can stretch your leg a little more if you don't rush it. Hold your raised leg up for at least 30 seconds while breathing normally. Then visualize letting the roots of your thighs descend to the floor as you tug the foot of your raised leg a bit closer to your head just for a few seconds. Then let the leg come down a few inches. Now pull it up again, pulsing the leg back and forth gently toward your head and slightly away to help loosen your hamstrings.

Step Four

If this stretch is very intense for you, then you can stay here and hold it for as long as you can. If you are ready to do more, then take the end of the yoga belt and pull it behind your head on the floor so that you are holding the end with your left hand by the left side of your head. Now grip the belt tightly in your left hand as you slowly lower your right foot down to your right side. Hold your right foot so that your right leg forms a 90-degree angle with your left leg. Rotate the right leg out from the top of your thigh so that your right inner thigh faces the ceiling. You can place a yoga block under your right foot for support so that you can rest the leg.

Step Five

At first, you may only be able to hold the pose for 30 seconds. Over time, try to increase the duration up to 5 minutes. To come out, inhale as you bring your right leg back up to the vertical position and slowly lower it straight down to the floor again. Repeat this pose while lifting your left leg and holding it for the same amount of time as you held it on the right side.

Beginner's Tip:

Once you have raised your leg as high as you can with the belt, practice bending the lifted leg and slowly straightening it. Repeat this movement of bending and straightening the leg to avoid leg cramps and help you stretch deeper.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Supta Padangusthasana

Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

  • Pregnancy
  • Irregular bowel movements like diarrhea
  • Headaches related to excessive neck and shoulder tension
  • For high blood pressure: Support both your head and neck on a folded yoga blanket

Modifications and Props:

In the beginning, it helps you open your hips much more if you perform this pose with the foot of your bottom leg pressed against a wall. As you lie down, bend your knees and press the soles of both feet into the wall. Then push yourself to slide back a little, using this movement to tuck your tailbone under you and hold your legs firmly straight. Then raise the other leg and continue the pose as normal.

Deepen the Pose:

Once you have become more flexible in this pose, then start practicing it without the yoga belt. You can come into the pose with the belt, but then exhale as you pull the leg up higher until your toes are close enough for you to grip them with your hand. Hook your first fingers and thumb around your big toe. Extend your lifted leg through your heel as you keep both legs straight.

Benefits:

  • Stretches out tension in the hips, thighs, hamstrings and calves
  • Realigns the lower back and sacrum
  • Increases circulation to the reproductive organs
  • Boosts digestion
  • Relieves back pains like sciatica
  • Tones the abdominal muscles
  • When performed with the raised leg out to the side, it relieves menstrual cramps

Variations:

When you are comfortable in Supta Padangusthasana, try pulling your raised leg across your torso. With the right leg lifted, grab your toes or the yoga belt in your left hand and pull the right leg to the left. Your right foot should come right above your left hip. Keep that right leg straight. Repeat these steps while raising your left leg.

Partnering:

In this pose, it takes a lot of thigh strength to keep the leg that remains on the floor straight and pressed down. Ask a partner to help you by standing next to you and pressing their foot down onto the hip at the root of your thigh. Their moderate downward pressure will help ground your leg and release your hips while you raise the other leg and stretch your hamstrings open more.

Next Pose:

Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

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