Today I will teach you how to do Supta Padangthuasana 1 (Reclining Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose). This brings more balance to your back, relieves pain and strengthens your legs, hips and core – all of which will help you become more stable, flexible and pain-free in your daily life.*
Here’s how to do it:
1. Start with your feet rooting firmly into a wall (or something firm) as if you were standing.
2. Take a few breaths to relax into your back space and observe how it rests against the floor. You’re welcome to just inhale and exhale for several minutes or more, just observing and relaxing, allowing gravity to take your back down towards your mat. Even if this is all you do, this exercise will do wonders for releasing tightness and pain in your spine.
3. Did you notice places of unevenness in your back when you were in Step 2? Did you feel a difference between the two sides? If so, place blanketsunder your back to create an even base.
4. When you feel ready, place a strap around your right heel with one end of a cotton strap in each hand. Take that leg into the air, paying at least as much attention to rooting your left foot into the wall and pressing the left thigh in to the floor.
The focus is to root that left foot, especially the heel, into the wall and move your left thigh downward towards the mat, while keeping your right leg as straight as possible. Your left thigh may not touch the mat, which is perfectly fine; but that’s the direction you want it to move.
If you like, this is an excellent opportunity to use a sandbag on your left thigh and to plant that leg into your mat firmly and gently. Keeping your right leg up, press the thigh away from your face, toward the wall your left foot is rooting into. Raise your leg until you feel tightness and breath. Extend your lower back toward the same wall, maximizing the length in your back. Repeat on the other side.
Do this pose regularly, breathing into and releasing the places where your back tends to rise off the floor.
*As I’ve said before, if you have health issues, particularly back problems, you’re going to want to get the okay from a health professional before trying this.
Che Nolan is a propologist with a major in bolsterology and an Iyengar yoga practitioner with a daily meditation practice. He’s also a writer and a regular Halfmoon contributor.