Yoga pose: Supta Padangusthasana I & II
Translation: Supta = supine, lying down, Pada = foot, Angustha = the big toe
The original pose is done by lying down on the back, holding the big toe with the fingers and stretching the other leg straight on the floor. Reaching the toe with the fingers is not easy therefore a belt can be used, rapped around the sole of the foot, held and pulled with both arms. These actions intensifies the stretch of the legs, in the calves and hamstrings, increases blood circulation in the legs, increases flexibility in the pelvic area and helps opening the chest by the pull of the arms. There are a few variation for the upward leg in this pose: (1) Upward leg perpendicular to the floor (Supta Padangusthasana I) and (2) Upward leg lowered down to the side (Supt Padangusthasana II).
Benefits of this asana:
- helps recovery from a cardiac condition
- removes stiffness in the lower back and relief backache by helping to align the pelvic area
- prevents Hernia
- helps to treat osteoarthritis of the hip and the knees by stretching the hamstrings and calf muscles and strengthening the knees
- strengthen the hip joint and tone the lower spine
- relieves sciatic pain
- Helps to relieve menstrual discomfort
Do not practice this asana if you have asthma, bronchitis, migraine, stress related headache, eye strain, diarrhea.
For high blood pressure, use a folded blanket under your head and neck.
Avoid variation I during menstruation.
Instructions: Supta padangusthasana I
- Lie on the back with legs stretched, arms to the side.
- Exhale, bend the right knee up towards the chest, rap a belt/strap around the sole of the foot, hold both ends of the belt with both hands and straighten the leg up to be perpendicular to the floor.
- Keep the left leg extended and pressed down to the floor. Keep the left foot straight or slightly turning inwards. The left thigh should press down to the floor.
- Feeling the stretch in the right calf, push the right heel up and toes pulling towards you. Press the right thigh back. Keep the pelvis and hips aligned on the floor.
- Keep the abdomen relaxed. Hold the belt as close as possible to the foot, this will help opening the chest.
- Stay in the pose for 1 minute, breathing evenly. (for beginners: hold the pose for 20-30 seconds and increase with practice.)
- To release, exhale, bend the knee, release the belt, straighten the leg back to the floor. Switch to left leg.
Instructions Supta Padangusthasana II:
- From step 2 in previous instructions, hold the belt with only the right hand and let the left hand rest on the side. Exhale and lower the right leg to the right. The right foot should be as far up as possible to be in line with the shoulder without lifting the left pelvis off the floor or loosing the position of the left leg. It is more important to keep the left pelvis on the floor than reaching with the right foot to the floor and in line with the shoulders. With regular practice of this asana (and other hip openers) you should be able to reach with the leg further without compromising the left pelvis.
- Keep the back of the trunk, the buttock and the entire left leg on the floor.
- Stay in the pose as per instruction 3 above.
- To release, Inhale and raise the right leg to be perpendicular to the floor.
- Exhale and lower the leg back down. Switch legs.
For both variations, to keep the leg stretched on the floor without tilting it, press the sole of the foot against a wall. This will also ensure the body is correctly aligned.
BKS Iyengar: ‘Light on Yoga’ and ‘Yoga: the path to holistic health’
Geeta S. Iyengar: ‘Yoga in Action, Preliminary course’