How to Do Reclined Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Targets: Hamstrings, calves

Equipment Needed: Yoga strap or belt

Level: Beginner

Reclined Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana) is a 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. There is also the Toe Stand (Padangusthasana) that is used in Bikram Yoga.


This pose stretches the hamstrings and calves. It is common to have tight hamstrings if you engage in sports that involve a lot of running. This pose can help reduce back pain by addressing flat low back posture. Traditionally, this pose is said to improve digestion.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  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. 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. Keep your left foot flexed and your left leg pressing towards the floor.
  5. 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.
  6. Hold your leg up for five to 10 breaths.
  7. 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. Do one stretch for each leg.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors so you can get the most out of this pose and avoid strain.

Hips Rising From Mat

When you are lifting a leg, don't allow that hip to come up off the mat. Both butt cheeks should have equal pressure into the mat.

Rotating or Lifting the Lowered Leg

The leg that remains on the mat might rise from the mat or rotate outwards. Both of these motions are not desirable.

Modifications and Variations

As with many yoga poses, you can do this pose in different ways to match your needs and practice level.

Need a Modification?

You can use a pillow or pad under your head if that is more comfortable.

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. 

Up for a Challenge?

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.

Safety and Precautions

If you have an injury to your hamstrings, quadriceps, or shoulders discuss with your doctor whether this pose is appropriate. Avoid this pose in the second and third trimester of pregnancy when lying flat is not advised. If you feel any pain, gently come out of the pose.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.