Can’t think of a pose to start your practice? Do Supta Padangusthasana


Iyengar-tier Supta Padangusthasana

Good Job! You set aside time to do your own practice. You’ve got your props, your hour or so, your motivation, and bam! What the heck to I do now? You say to yourself “I’m too tired for standing poses, my back, hip, shoulder (etc etc) is sore.” Stop everything, grab a strap, and do Supta Padangusthasana (reclined big toe pose).


Mere mortal-tier Supta Padangusthasana

Why would I suggest this pose? I have found in my own practice Supta Padangusthasana does many things. You are lying down, so it’s not that energy draining. You address those stiff hamstrings that were victimized by your day of sitting (or from a night of sleeping). But more than anything it is an excellent “diagnostic” pose. By doing Supta Padangusthasna in my own practice, I can tell fairly quickly what I need to work on it terms of stiffness, in terms of energy expenditure, and in terms of inward balance. Like magic, an internal guide kicks in when I am in this pose to try out things I have recently learned in class, or to get after my tightnesses from the previous yoga session.

Here is a quick “how to” for Supta Padangusthasana I:

  • Lie on the floor on your back in Supta Tadasana (reclined mountain pose).
  • Keeping the left leg straight, bend your right knee and place strap around ball mound of right foot.
  • Press the right “big toe” mound into the strap to straighten the leg.
  • Hold the belt in each hand and keep the arms straight like you are trying to reach your foot.
  • If you can reach the foot, grasp the big toe with the right thumb, middle, and index fingers.
  • Top leg should be straight. Arm or arms should be straight.
  • Keep the bottom leg straight with toes pointed toward the ceiling. Put the left hand on the left thigh and press down if you are using one arm.
  • Do one minute per side and repeat several times.

The shoulder should not travel up toward the foot, but should be rooted on the ground. If the back the neck curls up, place a folded blanket to fill the space behind the neck to the floor. The forehead should be slightly above the chin.

This is considered and “abdominal pose” and not a “forward bend” as it may appear. Therefore, when in the pose, make sure your abdomen is soft and deep. How deep? Look at Mr. Iyengar’s pose above. You can see his ribs are very pronounced from his abdomen deepness.

As I said in my previous post. The buttocks should be soft enough that the back thigh can touch the floor. You can see in the “mere mortal” pose her back thigh has plenty of light shining through.

When I first started my teacher training, my mentor took one look at my bowed legs in standing poses and gave me a never ending homework assignment to do this pose daily. It started bringing life into my forward bends.

When I was recovering from my prostate surgery a year ago. I did this pose after getting okay’d by my doctor to practice yoga. Coupled with Supta Padangusthasana II, and Supta Baddhakonasana, I feel it aided greatly in my recovery.


19 thoughts on “Can’t think of a pose to start your practice? Do Supta Padangusthasana

    1. yogibattle Post author

      Thanks Eva! The fact that you have your own practice puts you light years ahead in your yogic development. PS that pasta looks out of this world! My wife and I spent part of our honeymoon in Florence…oh the food πŸ™‚


  1. hisgirlfriday2014

    This is one of my favorite poses! I’ve found that it’s a great pose for everyone, whether you are someone with a regular yoga practice, a runner, or a weight-lifter. I love to start with my legs straight, but then keep the yoga toe lock and bring my extended leg out to the side. It’s a great hip opener!


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  3. ayearthatanswers

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I have grown to really love supta padagusthasana I and II and supta baddhakonasana. They make me feel both grounded and open and are quite restorative. Happy to have found your blog.


  4. Kalene

    Thanks for sharing. I like the logic. On weekends, I take yoga teacher training. I’ve just finished my third weekend and need to incorporate a home practice. This will be my starting point. Thank you for your excellent instructions.


  5. bearyluisa

    I have been working on this one, trying to get my toe further up, but standing. It never occurred to me to try it laying down. It’s so nice! Similar results without falling over.
    Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚


  6. vhyatt2014

    I started yoga about 5 months ago. I go with my dad,who is 82! You can see a picture of him on my blog. I love it so much. I only do it once a week. I do want to try to start my own routine at home. My instructor is motivating, I feel like I wouldn’t do as well without her. Thank you for sharing this. I prefer the floor exercises, too. I’m overweight, but very flexible. One of my favorites is the extended child’s pose My instructor told me I look like a frog! Thanks again. I look forward to reading more of your posts.


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