How to Do Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose in Yoga (Guide to Supta Padangusthasana A)

Reclining hand-to-big-toe pose is all about the relationship between your lower leg and your lifted leg. Although it can be a pretty intense hamstring stretch, it’s important to bring your attention to how your two legs are working together (or apart!) in this pose.

Great for your legs, lower back, and core, this is a wonderful pose to practice regularly or to start working your way towards.

“This is the type of pose that can be really easy for one person and incredibly challenging for another,” says Yoga Answered contributor Keira Shepherd. “Respect your body and your limits, and approach this pose with kindness to yourself.”

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Supta Padangusthasana A
Pose Type: Restorative Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: Hamstrings, arms, core, quads, glutes, hips
Benefits: This pose is great for strengthening the hamstrings, quads, and core while guiding you towards full-body awareness.
Preparatory Poses: Half knee-to-chest pose, knee-to-chest pose, staff pose, seated forward fold

How to Do Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Start by laying on your back on your mat.
  2. Bend your right knee to bring your right heel towards your glutes.
  3. From here, ground your lower back and upper back into the mat.
  4. Start to straighten your right knee as you lift your foot towards the sky.
  5. Keep your foot flexed and your toes pointing towards your head.
  6. Imagine that you’re growing all the way from your right sit bone to your right ankle as you “push” your ankle towards the sky.
  7. From here, reach your right arm up and use your first two fingers to wrap around your big toe.
  8. Rest your left hand on the mat next to you or place it on your left hip.

Beginner’s Tip

As a beginner, it can be hard to reach your toes without bending your knees! And even with bent knees, reclining hand-to-big-toe pose can still be uncomfortable.

Try bringing a strap underneath the sole of the lifted foot and holding onto it as opposed to reaching for your toes. This will allow you to experiment with the height of your leg while keeping your knee straight and help you work towards achieving hand-to-big-toe pose.

If you don’t have a strap, you can bring your arms around your hamstring to support your leg instead.

Contraindications

  • Avoid this pose if you have pain or injury in the shoulders, hamstrings, or quads.
  • This pose might feel particularly uncomfortable if you have weakness in the hips.

Variation

A variation of this pose is to lift one leg straight up (as in reclining hand-to-big-toe pose) and bend the other leg to bring your foot towards your glutes.

This will reduce the stretch in your hamstring and make the pose more accessible.

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