Supta Padangusthasana: Ways to Prop Up Your Yoga Practice

As the great Vanda Scaravelli teaches, the awakening of the limb lines emanates first from the quality and awakening of the spine.  Without that, the posture greatly loses purpose, flow, and benefits. The mistake in a yoga practice can come from the desire to achieve high degrees of flexibility in the limbs at the cost of integrity to the spine. 

This intention is quite true for Supta Padangusthasana.  For many yoga participants, the lack of hamstring (back of the thighs) flexibility results in the need for spinal flexion to hold the leg.  The desire to reach and ‘pull’ the leg into extension tends to generate lifting of the shoulders and neck, which also typically results in loss of cervical spine and shoulder girdle stability.

By using a strap in Supta Padangusthasana, you can maximize the benefits of the hamstring stretch while bringing deeper quality and stability through out the rest of the joints and energy lines.

 Ways to Prop Up Supta Padangusthasana for Spine and Hip Integrity

Halfmoon Yoga Prop: Loop Strap

  • Begin lying down with both knees bent.
  • Press your sacrum gently into the floor and life one leg up perpendicular to the floor.
  • Place the loop of the strap under the toe mounds and flex lightly through the foot.
  • Slowly lengthen the supported leg by reaching the heel to the ceiling.  Continue to press the sacrum into the earth.
  • As the leg extends, allow the hold on the strap to shift, so you can ease your shoulders down into the mat and even bring the upper arms to rest onto the floor.
  • Strive towards a balance of partially supporting with the strap while also engaging the thigh muscle.
  • To accentuate the stretch through the hamstring, visualize the head of the thigh bone (femur) easing down into the hip socket while the back of the knee moves away from sit bone.
  • Move through cycles of purposeful thigh contraction.  This incorporates the principle of reciprocal inhibition, which aids in relaxing the hamstring muscles further.
  • As the supported leg relaxes into the stretch, you can lengthen the bottom leg.  As you extend, press out through this heel and keep the toes facing vertical to maintain pelvic alignment.
  • If these adjustments continue to flow with ease and receptivity in the hamstring, adjust the hold higher on the strap to bring the leg closer toward the torso.  With each increase in depth in this pose, reset the upper arms to the mat so you can realign the shoulders, neck and head.

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