07 Jan Supta Padangusthasana
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose) is one of my favourite poses as I find it really lengthens and releases my lower back. I’ve had a lower back injury on the right-hand side ever since I practiced “insanity” on a tiled floor (not sprung and not to be advised). Insanity is a very high-intensity cardio max interval training workout involving bodyweight resistance with lots of abdominal work thrown in. This taught me a valuable lesson and I no longer push myself to the limits when doing cardio-vascular work or strength training potentially causing myself another injury. I love to combine a cardiovascular workout with a gentle Hatha yoga session afterwards to lengthen my contracted muscles to create more flexibility in my body and to build strength and stability. I find the two forms of exercise complement each other extremely well.
Reclining big toe pose is not only great for lengthening and releasing in the lower back but also in the hips, thighs, hamstrings, groin and calves and it’s good for strengthening in the knees. It’s also therapeutic for high blood pressure however if you have high blood pressure then raise your head and neck on a folded blanket. It’s a fantastic posture for improving digestion stimulating the spinal column and the organs of elimination in the abdomen so if you suffer from any form of digestive disorder then this is a great posture for you to practice daily. This is because when you are in the twist, the blood supply to those organs is temporarily cut off, then, when you release and come out of the posture, a fresh supply of blood is sent to those organs providing them with the nourishment they need to perform at their optimum level. This posture can be done whilst still in bed first thing on a morning if you wake up with lower back ache and I love that idea – being able to practice yoga without stepping one foot out of bed. The pose can be made slightly easier by raising the lower leg heel on a block. If particularly stiff you can do the pose with the bottom leg heel pressed against a wall. A block can be positioned just outside the raised leg hip to rest the leg on when taking it out to the side. The support under the thigh will help you soften the inner groin and a block can also be used to rest the leg on if you aren’t able to get it all the way down to the floor which will take time to achieve. Always listen to your body whilst practicing Hatha yoga and never force anything. Those with disc herniations or sciatica should practice this pose with caution.