Background

Supta padangusthasana and it’s variations are an extremely versatile group of poses with a variety of applications. They are generally used later in a sequence and grouped in with calming, cooling poses.

There are a range of ways to include supta padangusthasana in a yoga practice. These poses can be used to release the leg and pelvic muscles in the lead up to forward bends. Their calming and soothing qualities also fit well in a more restorative sequence.

These poses share common actions with many of the standing poses (for example trikonasana, ardha chandrasana and parsvottanasana). Hence they can also be used to isolate some of these actions in the lead up to practicing standing poses.

There are a range of therapeutic applications for supta padangusthasana and its variations. For instance, their capacity to create more space in the lower abdomen can render them useful in relieving menstrual pain and discomfort. They are also back releasing and allow ongoing mobility work during times of illness or low energy levels.

 

Benefits

The standard pose has many benefits. However the variations provide a slightly different focus with varying physical effects as a result. As a group, these poses can be used to foster spine, shoulder and lateral body mobility.

Looking at the variations more specifically, I and II are used to release the lumbar spine. Number II is also used as a softening pose for the abdomen (useful during menstruation, for example). Variation III creates increased length in the lumbar spine and also has a rotational component. Hence the back release can be greater. Number IV works primarily on gluteal muscle release and also has an abdominal strengthening component.

 

Instructions

adho mukha virasana

Supta Padangusthasana I

 

This pose stretches your hamstrings whilst keeping your spine supported by the floor. In this image a belt is used to grip the top foot, and the leg is being held on a vertical angle. If you have tight hamstrings it is quite likely that you will be unable to raise your leg in this vertical position without your knee bending. If this is the case, keep your knee straight but with your leg angled further away from your body.

  • Lie on your back with the soles of both feet in contact with the wall.
  • Bend your right knee to your chest and position a belt around the ball of your right foot.
  • Straighten your right leg and hold the belt in both hands.
  • As you hold the belt keep your elbows sightly bent, and press the back of your shoulders down to the floor.
  • Pressing your top foot up into the belt, turn your right outer thigh and right outer hip away from your ribcage.
  • Keep the right side of your sacrum moving away from your ribcage.
  • With the belt, guide your right foot away from the wall, whilst resisting your right thighbone towards the wall.
  • Press the front of your left thigh down.
  • Close the gap between the back of your left thigh and the floor.
  • Press your left big toe base firmly to the wall.
adho mukha virasana

Supta Padangusthasana II

 

This pose follows immediately on from the previous pose.

  • Keeping your right leg raised up, hold the belt in your right hand and position your left arm out to the side. Check that your hand is in line with your shoulder.
  • Pressing the front of your left thigh down, start to bring your right leg down and out to the side.
  • The action of bringing your right leg down and out to the side should not make the front of your left thigh lift up.
  • Close the gap between the back of your left thigh and the floor.
  • Bring the left side of your sacrum down to the floor.
  • Anchor the back of your left shoulder to the floor.
  • Turn the right side of your chest upwards towards the ceiling.
  • With the belt guide your right foot away from the wall.
  • Resist your right hip socket towards the wall.
adho mukha virasana

Supta Padangusthasana III

 

This pose follows directly from the previous one. An effective stretch can potentially be found without needing to bring your leg very far across.

  • After following the instructions for the previous pose, transfer the belt into your left hand, and place your right hand onto your right hip.
  • Position your right thumb in the thigh crease of the right leg, and firmly resist the right side of your pelvis away from your torso.
  • Whilst pressing the right hip away, bring your right leg partially across to the left side.
  • The foot will come roughly 30 cm across to the left.
  • Keep the back of your right hip in contact with the floor.
  • Keep your left toes and kneecap facing directly up towards the ceiling.
  • Use the belt to guide your right foot away from the wall, whilst using your hand to resist your right hip towards the wall.

 

adho mukha virasana

Supta Padangusthasana IV (Variation)

 

In addition to stretching the gluteal muscles, this pose also starts to release the lower back. Some abdominal strength is required to keep the head and chest raised up.

  • Start by lying on your back.
  • Bend your left knee towards your chest.
  • Keeping your left leg in this position, bend your right knee out to the side and place your right ankle against your left knee.
  • Check that your outer ankle rests in the region where the front thigh and knee join.
  • Use your abdominal strength to raise your head and chest, so that you can reach with both hands around the head of the left shin.
  • Interlock your fingers as you grip the shinbone.
  • Hug your left knee closer to your chest. This will in turn bring your right ankle closer to your face.
  • Partially bend your right elbow and press the elbow against the right inner knee. Use this action to resist the knee further away from your shoulders.
  • Lengthen your right heel away from the calf muscle so that the achilles tendon is as long as possible.
  • Ensure that your right leg remains straight.
  • Press the back of your right thigh towards the floor.

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