Published on January 1st, 2018 | by Graham Fowler


Supta Padangusthasana: Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Stretch

by Graham Fowler

Mindfulness Principles: The breath, bodily sensations, your relationship to the pose, open areas, closed areas, energetic effect of different types of breathing, the edge.

  1. Lie down on your back. Fully extend both legs on the floor. Press all four corners of the feet into the wall.
  2. Draw your right knee in and loop a yoga strap (or belt or necktie) around the arch of your right foot. Straighten that leg up toward the ceiling. Reach through the heel. Come to an easy stretch, just enough that your awareness naturally goes to the sensation.
  3. Establish a steady breathing pattern, smooth and deep.
  4. Gradually deepen the stretch. Take your time. As you go deeper, notice: Where does your body tend to clench when things get intense? Take a breath and let it go. Relax your grip on the strap. Relax your forehead, your face, your jaw, neck and shoulders. Even your tongue is in Shavasana.
  5. Maintain conscious relaxation with presence as you come to that place where any more would be too much, any less not enough.
  6. Breathe as if you could breathe right into where you feel it the most. Emphasize the exhalations. That will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, for a more restorative effect. You are cultivating equanimity in the midst of intensity. If you can do it here, you can do it on I-285.
  7. Turn your right leg outward from the hip joint, with the foot and knee facing slightly to the right. As you slowly bring the leg out to the right, press your left foot into the wall to keep your left thigh and hip grounded. Now breathe as if you could breathe through your whole body. Reach out from your core in all directions. Notice what’s happening now, in body, breath, and mind.
  8. Slowly bring your leg back up. Hold the first position another 30 seconds.
  9. Lower your leg down, release the strap, and be still. In stillness, the sequence keeps working for you as your body and mind receive and integrate the effects.
  10. Complete the same process with the other leg. Finish with a brief Shavasana.


Self-reflection: Where in your life do you habitually tense up, close down, or check out? Is there a pattern or habit of closure in your life that you could bring this same inquiry to? Every moment of your life you are either opening up or closing down. Yoga offers us the possibility to make that opening or closing a conscious choice.

Image: Sarah Trulove; Jill Hendrix; Sarah Trulove

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