Reclined Big Toe Pose - Supta Padangusthasana

reclined big toe pose
Ben Goldstein

Reclined big toe pose is a pretty classic stretch for runners and other athletes since it gets right into the hamstrings and calves. Bringing a yoga approach can improve this stretch by introducing important alignment points and bringing attention to body mechanics to reduce the chance of overdoing it. The instructions below offer adaptation for people with tight hamstrings and variations for those with more flexibility. Wherever you are on that spectrum, take things slowly and listen to your body along the way.


  1. Come to lie on your back with your legs outstretched.
  2. Bend your right knee and hug your leg into your chest.
  3. Place a yoga strap around the ball of your right foot. Hold the ends of the strap with each hand. If you don't have a strap, a belt will work.
  4. Straighten your right leg up toward the ceiling while holding tightly to the strap.
  5. Stretch your right leg upwards with the foot flexed, but keep the ball of the hip joint resting in the socket and both sides of your butt equally resting on the floor. In other words, don't allow your right hips to cone up off the floor just because you are lifting that leg.
  6. Keep your left foot flexed and your left leg pressing towards the floor.
  7. Try pointing the right toes for a slightly different stretch. You can go back and forth between a flexed and pointed foot if you like.
  8. Hold your leg up for 5 to 10 breaths.
  9. To come out, bend your right knee back into your chest, bring the left knee to join it, give your legs a little hug, and then do the same thing with your left leg raised.

    Beginners Tips

    • Instead of extending the leg that is left on the floor, you can bend it at the knee and bring the sole of your foot to the mat. 
    • Don't worry if your lifted leg doesn't come all the way up to a perpendicular position. 

    Advanced Variations

    • Instead of using the strap, take your big toe in a yogi toe lock and then straighten your leg.
    • Using either the strap in your right hand or the toe lock, open your right leg to the right side. Let the leg hover above the floor as you pull your foot toward your head.
    • Bring your leg back up to center and switch your strap/toe lock to your left hand. Then bring your right leg across your body to the left side. You can choose to bring the right foot all the way to the floor on your left side or just barely across the midline of the body for an IT band stretch.
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