From an etymologic point of view, supta means “lying” and angushta is the equivalent of “toe”. Asana means pose. Consequently, this asana was named the “pose of grabbing the toe, starting from the lying position”. This is a dynamic asana and is performed synchronizing the initial movements with the breath.
HOW TO DO THE ASANA
Start lying on the back, with the arms resting along the trunk. Before beginning the practice of the asana, take a few long relaxing breaths.
Stay still for about one minute in order to be able to turn inwards and become aware of your body. Allow your normal rhythm of breath to come back, and pay attention to the breath.
THE FIRST STAGE
Inhale deeply, and bend the left leg, after which exhale, holding the toe of the left leg with the left hand.
THE SECOND STAGE
Inhale and stretch the left leg, previously bent, holding the toe continuously.
THE DYNAMIC POSE
In the final pose, lift the right leg and arm as well, at tops 20 cm off the floor, stretching the body entirely.
The muscles of the right leg and arm will be stretched at the maximum, as well as the toes. Concomitantly, pull the left toe so that you stretch the posterior muscles to the maximum.
During all this while, breathe deeply, contracting the abdominal muscles at the end of the exhalation so that the air inhaled will be exhaled completely.
It is also essentially to lift the head from the floor in order to press the chin on the chest. The muscles of the neck are contracted which means that we will also perform Jalandhara Bandha.
In the beginning we keep this position for 10 to 20 breaths which in this position will be quite fast, so that the time of execution will not be more than 1 minute, than exhale slowly and come back to the starting position.
Start lying down on the floor. It is important that in this position you gain the awareness on your body, especially the areas of contact with the floor. Breathe slowly.
Hold the toe with your hand. Stretch the leg and through an energic traction of the toe, stretch the musculature of the legs.
Relax while lying down, for an interval equal with the time you did the asana.
After the relaxation we do the asana on the opposite side, reaching to the right toe with the right hand.
During this asana we can have the possible errors:
1. Lift the leg that is always stretched and the corresponding arm at more than 20 cm above the floor.
2. Bend the leg whose toe we hold, during the final position.
3. Not to press the chin on the chest.
4. To hold the breath more than necessary.
There is no contraindication to this asana.
PLACE IN THE SERIES OF ASANAS
Supta Angushtasana is integrated among the preparatory exercises. Consequently, this is performed before the series of asanas, and even before the Sun Salutation.
The main effects of this asana are perceived at the level of the circulation and of the heart.
The muscles of the legs and of the arms are contracted at the maximum compressing the deeper veins and to push the venal blood to the heart. The massive flow of the blood to the heart is favoured by the contraction of the abdominal muscles and the acceleration of the breath.
As we already indicated, the pressure of the chin on the chest allows the execution of Jalandhara Bandha, with all the beneficial effects triggered by this technique on the blood pressure, and on the carotidien sinuses.
This asana tonifies the heart and prevents the possible occurrence of a cardiac arrest.
The intense muscular contraction induces a state of relaxation. Regularly, the modern people suffers of a muscular atony. Asanas such as Supta Angushtasana provide the muscles the minimum of indispensable activity for preserving their normal force of contraction.
Both the tantric and the Taoist traditions describe the neck as a very important part of the body. Usually, when we work in our office, at our desk, we keep our head bent over what we work and consequently, these muscles are permanently tensed.
This asana acts on these muscles contracting them at first, the inducing a state of deep relaxation. Many people have permanents contractions of these muscles, and this results in migraines or in weak irrigation of the brain. This exercise favours a normal tonus of the neck muscles.
The yogic tradition stresses the study of the circulation of the energies in the human body. Among these energies, the vayu-s, apana vayu has a special role, because it represents the elimination of the residual products of the body.
The subtle yogic physiology also mentions that there are certain nadis, the subtle energy paths, which end in the toes. Similarly, in the acupressure, the liver meridian start from the toe. Supta Angushtasana is an excellent yogic exercise for the balance of prana vayu and apana vayu.
Our overall health and well-being depend on the perfect balance of these two elements. Consequently, Supta Angushtasana offers all the benefits of Jalandhara Bandha and of the abdominal yogic breath.
EFFECTS ON THE SPINE
The spine is straightened in the lumbar area, which is excellent to correct an accentuated curve of the spine. Many people suffer from pains in the back, due to wrong bodily positions, and Supta Angushtasana eases this pain and corrects the errors.