low lunge (anjeneyasana)
low lunge easy twist
side angle pose (parsvakonasana)
Groin stretches. In their public lives, they are pigeon pose, low lunge or anjeneyasana baddha konasana (butterfly pose), the various thigh pulls, and others. In their secret lives, they are calming down and reconnecting with the self.
Part of living a balanced life is engaging with what it brings you. Sometimes we have no choice but to do, do, do, participating in so much crazy outward facing activity in connection to the details of our lives. But this can result in tensions both psychological and muscular.
The muscles of the deep inner hips can be the first to contract under stress. Emotions are held in our hips, they say, and I think of the inner hip muscles, especially psoas, as the freakout muscles. For me, when there's a lot going on, even if it's a lot good, the freakout muscles contract. The groins themselves get tight, pulling the thighs forward and narrowing first the pelvic floor, and then the lower back. This is when you get that feeling of being all wound up, or pulled up. Did you ever hear the expression, "Don't get your panties in a bunch?" I had a teacher in my massage training who called inner thigh muscles the "say no" muscles, because of the way they unconsciously clamp together when life feels like it's coming on to strong, or to fast.
Read about held emotions and the outer hips.
By drawing awareness to and opening the foundational muscles of the deep belly, groin stretches allow us live and grow from a more centered place. No matter how deeply we feel the impulse to give of ourselves through our actions, the fact is that personal sustainability depends on connecting with the self, with the gut, before extending from the heart.
What Groin Stretches Stretch
The term groin stretches is kind of vague, but usually refers to opening and relieving tension in the muscles collectively known as the hip flexors. These include the inner thigh muscles, or the adductors, and the muscles of the iliopsoas.
The iliopsoas muscles (psoas major, psoas minor, and iliacus) span the front of the groins, at the crease, and also articulate with the pelvic bowl, where they can be said to house and support the vital mechanisms of the gut, or low belly. This would include the digestive tract, and the reproductive organs, especially in women. This is the region of the gut brain - the part of us that experiences and processes instinctive and emotional responses to stress, need, desire, security or insecurity, and fear. The iliopsoas is part of the structure that contains the very depths of our being. It's no wonder that relative tension and tension relief in this area has such profound implications on our sense of overall wellness and peace.
Low lunge - Anjeneyasana Prep #2
(I have reprinted steps one and two from the thigh stretches page. the general shape of the pose is the same, but the focus is different. The quadriceps openers and groin stretches are pretty closely connected, though, so you may want to read about thigh stretches too.
Get down on your right knee, with your left foot standing on the ground in front of you, as if you were about to propose. You might want to put some extra padding under your right knee, like a folded up blanket, or an extra yoga mat. Place your hands on either side of your left foot.
Soften, and draw in, squaring your hips to face the front of the room. Gently pull your right knee forward toward your left foot isometrically (without actually moving). Flex your right foot so that your toes are tucked, and follow the instructions for tadasana foot on both sides.
Maintaining all of the actions above, you may begin to move your hips forward until you feel an opening in the front of your thigh and groin area. Don't go too far forward though, or your pelvis might tuck, moving the thighbone forward, and you'll miss your target area of the iliopsoas. Keep engaging the muscles as they stretch - and slowly move your hands to your hips. If you have trouble balancing here, brace yourself with your left hand on a yoga block, a low table, or the seat of a chair.
From deep in your belly, lift your heart upward as you root down into the knees and feet. Think of yourself as a tree - growing downward in order to grow upward. Like all things in nature, we plant deep roots in order to rise in a sustainable way. Raise your right arm if you like, spread your fingers, and really stretch.
Be careful to keep the legs active to insure that this stretch is informed by and directed toward a connection to your gut, to your core, via the sensation of opening or releasing the tension in your groin muscles, or hip flexors. Groin stretches that disconnect here can misalign the psoas, only making the problem worse.
Doing too much, perhaps giving too much, is how you got to this place of tension and discomfort in the first place! You can think of this as an exercise in consciously extending your heart while maintaining a connection to the deep intelligence at your center.
Low lunge Easy Twist
This is a simple twist that most of us can practice in some form. Although they are nice groin stretches, twists may be contraindicated if you have low back pain, or if you are pregnant. In general, and I mean this for everyone, please be sure to check in with a qualified teacher before practicing any yoga poses.
Follow steps 1 & 2 for anjeneysana prep (above).
Keeping your left hand on the floor (or propped up if this is helpful), take your right hand to your right hip. Maintaining the gentle drawing in of both legs, feel the soft brightness of your breath expand in your entire trunk, especially the back body. As you exhale, soften your left waist forward toward your right inner thigh.
Take your right shoulder straight back, open your throat a little, and extend your right hand straight up toward the sky, fingers open. From deep in the belly, shine out in all directions. As you reach out and down through the back foot, especially the inner edge, or big toe mound, reach equally forward through your sides and through the heart. If you like, you may deepen the pose by straightening the back leg, but be mindful of your balance - keep your legs strong and your whole foundation rooted, including your fingertips!
Follow the directions for warrior two.
Take your right elbow to rest on our right knee, and place your left hand on your left hip.
Maintaining the steady action in your feet and legs, take your left shoulder straight back, so that the upper chest feels open and free. take your head back a little, too, and breath deeply all the way into your upper lungs, way up by your collar bones.
Keeping your back thigh and sitting bone pressing back, root from your deep belly down into both feet, and take your left arm over your ear so that your fingertips reach the same direction as the top of your head. Keep reaching down through that left foot, and forward through the heart. It may sound impossible to reach in two directions at once, but with practice, you can do it.
Reach through the crown of the head, even your gaze. Shine out!
Practice Good Alignment - Practice with a Teacher
This website is meant to inspire you. Practicing groin stretches and other yoga poses safely requires the guidance of a well trained teacher. You can contact me for more information here.
You can also:
take a class with me,
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