Downward Facing Frog Pose
Downward facing frog pose is an extremely deep, hip opening pose. It usually appears in Yin yoga, which is a type of yoga where you hold poses for a long amount of time, because the longer this pose is held the deeper a person can go into it. When it’s featured in a vinyasa flow, a lot of warming up is needed and done before.
Frog pose is a relaxing and often restorative pose, which is why it tends to be used for slower vinyasa flows. When holding this pose deep breathing is used to create a sense of more ease. Overall, it’s a wonderful pose that’s mostly used to release tension in the body and the mind.
The basics of Downward Facing Frog pose
Downward facing frog pose, which is more commonly known just as frog pose, and the Sanskrit name for it is ‘Mandukasana’. This pose mainly targets the hip, groin, and adductors. It is a deep stretch in the hip and groin area, which makes it an intermediate to advanced pose. It can also be quite intense on the knees; therefore, a blanket or towel is usually put down on the mat before doing this pose for extra knee support.
The pose is only done near the end of the class when everyone in the class has warmed up their hips and groin area. Even when it is at the end of a class, it’s seldom held for very long because of how deep of a stretch it is. It’s only held for long periods of time in yin classes, which specifically focuses on releasing to get deeper into sometimes intense poses.
Benefits of practicing frog pose
The biggest benefit of practicing frog pose is increasing hip flexibility. Holding this pose for any amount of time opens the hips and increases flexibility significantly the more that it’s practiced. It also provides a large stretch for the adductors and even the tummy muscles, which is good for the muscles after engaging them or doing strength work.
One of the best things about practicing frog pose is that it teaches you to go inward, relax, and focus on the breath. It’s one of the most meditative poses in yoga for this reason. There is a lot of sensation felt in this pose, therefore, to stay calm a person must slow down their breathing. Focusing on the breath is a natural way to do that.
How to do frog pose
Step by step instructions to get into frog pose
- Begin by placing a blanket or towel over your yoga mat to ensure that no pain comes up in the knees. Come into a tabletop position parallel to the shorter edge of the mat with hands on the floor rather than on the mat.
- From here slowly widen your legs, keeping the knees and ankles in line, until some sensation is felt. You should feel a stretch in the groin and adductor area, but no pain should be felt. As soon as there is pain walk the legs in closer to each other.
- Once your leg position is found, flex the ankles so that your feet are turned sideways.
- Slowly, you can release your hands to the floor or onto some blocks. Hold here or if the hip flexibility is there, fold onto your forearms and hold.
- Focus on the breath and breathe deeply into the tummy. Hold for around 5-10 breaths or until you feel ready to come out of the pose.
Common mistakes made when practicing frog pose
The most injurious mistake that people make is trying to force their knees further apart than what their body is capable of yet. This can cause serious pain, which is not the intention of the pose. People often think that the deeper they go into a pose the better it is for them but that’s not true. The pose has the same benefits no matter how deep you are in it. If sensation is felt, you’re receiving the benefits of the pose.
Another similar thing people do is to not move further out of the pose when it gets too uncomfortable. If you’re sagging or pushing on the ground instead of using it as gentle support, then you know you’ve gone too far. Start slowly and mindfully make your way into the pose.
Tips for beginners’
The best tip for frog pose is to warm up properly. Don’t jump right into the pose, make sure the hips and even the hamstrings have been worked on a bit in the practice. This will make it a lot easier to try the pose out and see how far you can. Don’t push into the pose and use as many props as is needed to get into it. If the pose isn’t working out, try practicing gentle hip openers for a while until the flexibility is there for this pose.
There are many benefits of this pose but if the body isn’t ready yet then it needs to be listened to. This isn’t the kind of pose that can be jumped straight into. It requires proper warming up and a good degree of hip flexibility to already be there before going into frog pose. Listen to the body and if it’s painful then it shouldn’t be done.
Those who have injured their knees, hips, groin, or spine shouldn’t be doing this pose. Anyone with any kind of injury should contact their physician or doctor first before beginning a yoga practice.
Variations of frog pose
A variation of this pose that makes it easier is doing it up against a wall. This allows for more support and it’s not as deep of a stretch as traditional frog pose. Alternatively, practicing butterfly with souls of the feet together in front of you is also a variation that is helpful to increase the hip flexibility that’s required for frog pose. It’s a gentler stretch but still gets into the hips and groin area.
To make this pose harder, there is an extended frog variation. Which is where you would be lower down to the ground in frog and you reach your arms behind your back. This is a deeper hip opener, and it also opens the shoulders and spine.References