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Modifications for Supta Padangusthasana

Paul M. Jerard Jr.
May 27, 2008
Reclining Big Toe Pose, which is sometimes known as "Supta Padangusthasana," may seem simple, on the surface, but this posture may require specific modifications for the student's benefit. Below is an example of modifications for Reclining Big Toe Pose.

Q: My student is complaining of pain in the wrists, which lasts for days, after Yoga practice. While performing Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose), we have been using a cotton strap around the arch of the foot. Then we hold the strap with our right hand, take the foot to the floor on the right side, and gazing beyond our outstretched left arm, held at shoulder height on the floor.

We then bring the foot overhead, change the strap to our left hand, and bring the foot across the body, while gazing beyond our right arm, outstretched on the floor at shoulder height.

The strap-holding arm is straight, but not locked, and both shoulders are held on the floor. We then do the other side. The student has tender wrists and has been wearing gloves, which support her wrists during practice. She is a golfer and has a great deal of inflexibility in her hamstrings, arms, and legs.

My student is unable to straighten her arms in some poses and is challenged to stand in a wide stance for standing poses such as Warrior II and Extended Lateral Angle Pose with the forearm on the thigh.

A: Students with pre-existing ailments, posture alignment problems, and injuries, never cease to amaze me. Some of them come to classes, listen to everything, and use what they learn - while others are in complete denial about the true nature and causes of their ailments.

This is interesting because her wrists are probably working fine on the golf course, but she has reasoned that it must be Yoga, which causes her pain for days.

It reminds me of a student, over 70 years of age, who insisted that Chair Yoga was causing her knee pain. Later, we discovered that she had been skiing every possible weekend of her adult life.

Once it was mentioned that her knee pain was probably due to skiing, she quit Chair Yoga, because she claimed that was the overriding source of the problem. She returned months later, due to her physician's advice, when the pain would not go away. She realized she would have to go easy on the skiing or stop altogether. She is pain free now, but goes skiing once in a while.

You can make this asana a bit easier by raising the lower leg, and heel, off the floor, on a blanket or pillow. Since she has some flexibility issues, she can perform this asana with the heel of the bottom leg pressed against a nearby wall. This will enable her wrists to relax. You may also want to place a blanket just outside the hip of the raised leg. When she lowers her leg to that side, she can rest it on the blanket.

Finally, if she still continues to have pain, Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), also known as cobbler, or butterfly, is a good substitute, and her wrists will not endure any stress.

Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
About the Author
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. He is an author of many books on the subject of Yoga and has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995.

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