Double Strap Pose/ Supta Padungustasana

Supta Padungustasana or “Reclined Big Toe Pose” is a staple of every class I teach. This version with double straps is great for creating more space in the lower back and hip joint. Often the femur bone (upper leg bone), is forced to the front of the hip socket due to our sedentary lifestyles. This traction version of  the pose helps to pull the femur bone to the back of the hip socket creating more space in the joint. Try it:

Double Strap Pose A

Double Strap Pose A –You will need two yoga straps. Take one and make a loop by feeding the strap though the metal rings and back over a ring and under the second ring. Pull the strap tight to make sure you created the loop right. Lying on your back hold up the loop and put your right leg through. Place the end with the rings in your hip crease so that you can easily adjust it, while the other end of the strap is looped around your left foot. Bring your right leg up to the ceiling and place the second strap over the sole of the foot. The arms are straight and the shoulders are pressing down into the floor. After you have stretched the right hamstrings for a minute or so, bend the left knee and then tighten the strap loop around your right hip. Straighten your left leg and feel the strap pulling the femur bone down towards the left foot. Breathe here for as long as it feels appropriate for you. I usually like about 2 minutes.

Double Strap Pose B

Double Strap Pose B – For the next version of this pose place both ends of the upper strap into your right hand. Externally rotate your right leg (turning your right foot out to the right by moving the leg from the hip joint), and breathe deeply as you begin to lower the leg out to the side. The deeper you breathe the more the diaphragm will work with the core and spinal muscles to keep you stable. Continue to press through your left heel for stability as well. The idea is to keep the pelvis and left hip rooted to the floor, versus dropping the right leg to the floor. As soon as you feel the left hip lifting off the floor stop there and instead try and stabilize the pelvis while drawing the right leg closer to your head. If you are having trouble stabilizing your torso, or if you feel strain in your lower back you can place a block or other prop under your right hip or ankle. Breathe here for 1-3 minutes.

Double Strap Pose C

Double Strap Pose C – For the final version of the pose bring your right leg back up to the ceiling and then take both of the upper straps  into your left hand. Begin to cross your right leg over to the left, rolling over onto your left side stacking your right hip on top of your left. You do not need to lock out the right knee. In fact if at any time during these variations you feel the leg trembling or shaking you can soften the bend in the knee and back off a bit. Sometimes as we try too hard we actually overstretch the nerve which fires and tells the muscle to contract. As it does it becomes counter productive since the muscle is contracting and shortening while you want to relax and stretch it. Remember that  sometimes less is more. Once you have crossed the right leg over you can let it hover at hip height or place your foot on a block for support. Keep both shoulder blades on the floor to complete the twist. You will feel a stretch in the right buttock which is lengthening the muscle that covers the sciatic nerve. This should help alleviate the pressure on the nerve and when done right I find this whole sequence will help to relieve sciatic symptoms. After 1-3 minutes you can come out of the pose and take off the second strap. Lie on your back a moment with your eyes closed and notice the extra length and space in your right hip and low back. Return the loop  to it’s original loop size and repeat the sequence on the left side.

Categories: Alignment, Anatomy, Asana

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