Reclining Big Toe Pose I and II — by Jackie Kittel
SP I- Props: Wall and belt as needed. SP I is an excellent pose to improve hamstring flexibility. The actions in the pose can help relieve lower back pain by creating traction and releasing compression and tension in the low back.
Begin by lying down with your feet pressing into a wall. Hook the right big toe with your fingers or use a belt around the foot and straighten your right leg above you. Press the inner edge of your left foot into the wall and press the inner left thigh down toward the floor. Press the entire length of both femur bones into the backs of the legs. Lower the outer right hip away from the side ribs to maintain length in the right side waist. Relax the skin of your face and neck and allow the breath to flow evenly and smoothly. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds or to your tolerance. You may finish with SP I and repeat on the left side or continue with SP II.
SP II- Props: Wall, block, belt as needed. In the lifted leg in SP II, the adductor or inner thigh muscles are stretched. This variation can be helpful with aligning the pelvis and relieving sciatic pain. The use of the block to the outer hip in SP II provides tactile feedback to help you understand the alignment of the pose.
Continuing from SP I, take both straps into the right hand and extend your left arm onto the floor at shoulder height. Place a block to the outside of your left hip. Press the left foot into the wall and the left thigh down. On an exhalation, slowly move the right leg out to your right side. Keep your mind on the static left leg. While moving the right leg out, turn the abdomen, navel and side ribs to the left. Press your outer left hip into the block. Do your best to keep your outer left hip on the block. This way of practicing will give you feedback to keep the right leg from tipping the body to the right. Move your attention to the abdominal muscles and engage them to stabilize the trunk and pelvis. Draw the right foot up towards the right shoulder. Stretch the right inner thigh to the right inner heel. From the outer right heel, pull back to the outer right hip, drawing the right femur bone into the hip socket. This action will also help to stabilize the pelvis. Lower the right hip down from the right side ribs to create more length in the side body. Hold this pose for 30 seconds or to your tolerance. Steady your breath and cultivate a calm quiet mind. Return to SP I. Repeat on the left side.
SP I and II with Variation. Props: Wall, 8 foot belt, bolster or rolled blanket. During menstruation, SP II with the support of the bolster can help decrease menstrual cramping and congestion. The support of the bolster can provide more comfort in the pose while stretching the inner thighs.
Place a bolster or thick rolled blanket to the side of your right hip. Make a small loop with your belt and place it around your right foot. Hold the long end of the strap with your left hand as you place the strap behind your neck. Straighten your right leg into SP I. Slowly with an exhalation, move the right leg out to your side. Rest your right leg on the bolster. Gently pull on the left strap to add resistance as appropriate. Repeat the actions above in SP II. Rest comfortably for 1-2 minutes in the pose. Repeat with the left leg. Return to supta tadasana with both feeton the wall. Close your eyes and feel the whole ofyour body and mind.
Sutra II.46 says “sthira sukham asanam” which means let there be a sense of steadiness (sthira) and sweetness and delight (sukham) in your asanas. As you practice this pose with awareness, allow the qualities of steadiness and sweetness to infuse your body and mind.
*Please check with your health care provider and seek out a qualified yoga teacher to assist you if you have any injuries or medical concerns.