By B.K.S. Iyengar September 2000 SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA‘Supta‘ means lying down, ‘pada‘ is the foot while ‘angustha‘ stands for the big toe. We use our legs throughout our waking state and so they form the foundation for movement. It is imperative that they be trained to be firm and steady. Without strong legs and feet, the brain cannot be held in correct alignment with the spine. Hence the importance of standing poses in yoga. The outer legs are more attentive in standing poses. Supta padangusthasanacan be called a ‘supine standing pose’ where the inner legs are activated. This creates a balance for the entire body. Standing postures can be replaced by this asana on days when it is too hot or when one is feeling exhausted. First Stage• flat on the back. Stretch both legs while keeping the knees tight.• Inhale, then bend the right leg at the knee and raise the right arm to hold the right big toe between the thumb and the fore and middle fingers.• While gripping the right big toe, make the right leg perpendicular to the floor by extending the calf muscles at the back of the leg towards the heel. The right big toe should be in line with your nose. • To straighten the right leg completely, first move the shinbone towards the calf muscles, thighbone towards the hamstring muscles and then straighten the knee.• The left leg on the floor should be straight. The knee should be firm and rested on the floor. The head and the trunk must be in a line.Stay in this position for 20-30 seconds while breathing normally. Second Stage Continue from the first stage. Exhale and lower the right leg out to the right side. As the right leg goes down to the right side, the left buttock should not be lifted up. Press the left thigh down on the floor along with the left buttock. The right leg should move along the right shoulder without allowing the left pelvis to lift away from the floor. Repeat similarly on the other side. Some Useful Tips• The foot of the leg on the floor may tend to drop down loosely. To maintain the stiffness of this leg, the left one in the above case, one can use the support of a wall. You must place the whole bottom of the left foot against the wall and the hinges of the ankle on the floor. • The buttocks should always be moving away from the lower back so that there is no compression of this region.• After lying down on the floor in preparation for the asana, you can bend the knees and insert your palms under the buttocks and move the buttocks away from the waist towards the legs. Then, without allowing them to be lifted up, you can extend and straighten both legs.• If you are unable to reach the big toe, you can use a belt to loop it in. Hold the belt lower down with both your hands (the elbows may be bent) and descend the shoulders towards the floor. Roll the upper arms from inside out so the sides of the chest are lifted. • Avoid stretching the leg to the side too much if you lose alertness and firmness in any of the legs. The back of the trunk, the buttock and the entire leg should remain on the floor. Effects• The legs will develop properly by the practice of this asana.• The nerves in the legs and hips are rejuvenated and the blood begins to circulate more efficiently.• Persons suffering from sciatica and paralysis of the legs will derive great benefit from this asana.• It removes stiffness in the hip joints and prevents hernia.
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