[Pose Of the Week] Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Beginner)

Stretch your hamstrings & hips, strengthen your core, and more with Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose…

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana) – also known as Reclined Big Toe Pose – is a beginner-level yoga pose that offers a great stretch to the hamstrings, strengthens the core and legs, and improves flexibility in the legs, groin, hip flexors, and lower spine. This pose may help to relieve back pain, and is a great way to stretch the legs without putting stress on the lower back like standing poses such as Standing Forward Bend may do.

To modify the pose, feel free to use a yoga strap, belt, tie, or folded towel around the ball of the foot if you aren’t able to hold onto your toes. Be sure to give yourself enough room on the strap that your leg is straight, but be careful not to over-stretch your hamstrings. Keep the muscles of both legs active as you stretch, but avoid locking the knees.

You may also wish to practice this pose with the sole of the lower foot pressed against a wall, which can help the hamstrings to release and give you a sense of the necessary connection between the raised and lowered legs. To vary the pose, you may also open the extended leg out to the side for an inner thigh stretch and additional core strengthening benefits.

Those with existing hamstring or hip injuries should avoid this pose.

How to Do Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose:

  1. Begin lying comfortably on your back in a supine position with your legs extended straight down on the mat in front of you.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Allow your shoulder blades to soften down into your mat and broaden across the collarbones. Keep your gaze soft and your jaw relaxed.
  6. 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.
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