Here’s What To Know About Yoga’s Most Intense Hip Opener—And No, It’s Not Pigeon Pose

Photo: Getty Images/ Dangubic
If you're a human being, chances are you've experienced tight effing hips. Clearly, the ancient instructors of yoga got the memo: The physical practice of yoga, called "asana," features countless hip openers that target the various muscles that wrap around your midsection. There's the gooey-but-challenging pigeon pose (eka pada rajakapotasana, in Sanskrit) and firelog pose (agnistambhasana), of course. But if you're in for something extra deep (and yeah, a little bit intense), frog pose—also known as mandukasana in sanskrit—is another asana that deserves a place in your rotation.

What is frog pose?

Frog pose is a yoga pose that stretches both your hips and your groin. It involves straddling the floor with bent hips and knees (akin to the legs of a frog) with your chest and arms or forearms rested down to the floor as far as they can go.

Experts In This Article

Why is frog pose so hard?

According to Neeti Narula, yoga teacher at Modo Yoga in New York City, frog pose packs an extra punch because you're targeting not just your hips, but your entire groin, or the part of the body where the thighs meet your abdomen.

"Because frog pose requires deep external rotation of both hip joints at once, it can be a pretty intense shape." —Neeti Narula, yoga teacher

"Because frog pose requires deep external rotation of both hip joints at once, it can be a pretty intense shape," Narula says. "It also is a deep groin opener—especially for the adductors—an area that most of us aren't used to stretching very frequently."

Frog pose is also a backbend and an inversion (because your head is below your heart). Put all of these ingredients together and you have a pose that's doing a lot—but in the very best way.

What are the benefits of practicing frog pose?

Since frog pose can be a bit uncomfortable before you find the sweet spot, is it really worth putting yourself through the potential discomfort? Pros say the fact that frog pose can target two important muscle groups makes it worth your time.

It opens your hips and stretches your hip flexors

Everyone can benefit from frog pose, but those who do hip-heavy sports or spend a lot of time in one seated position may especially reap the rewards. Activities like biking or anything involving sitting can shorten the hip flexors and undermine hip joint mobility thanks to tightness in the muscles and ligaments surrounding the joint.

"It's great for people who run, bike, or are seated all day," Narula says. "Since the shape is a deep external rotation of the hips, it is a great counter activity to sitting at a desk or exercises that feature predominantly flexion of the hip joints."

It stretches the groin

Targeting the groin is also a fairly underemphasized activity. The groin is "the area between the abdomen and upper thigh around the pubic bone containing various adductor muscles," Jeff Brannigan, director of programming at New York City's Stretch*d, previously told Well+Good about groin stretches. "These are muscles that connect at the base of the pelvis and extend along the inside of the thigh."

Again, especially for people with desk jobs, groin stretching should not be overlooked. Without groin stretching, "coupling long hours at a desk and strenuous activity without time for recovery is a recipe for disaster," Brannigan says. "Allowing these muscles to become tense or tight will compromise movement of the hip and leg, increasing tension on the joints and increasing chance of injury."

Brannigan says groin tightness could result in lower back and knee pain, so frog pose could help relieve lower back pain.

It can help you achieve calm

Since frog pose is an inversion pose where your head is bent forward below your heart, the benefits of inversion yoga come with this pose. That includes relieving stress by helping to calm the nervous system.

"Forward folds stretch and create space between the vertebrae in the spine, which is the commander of our autonomic nervous system," Savanna Stevens, founder of S3 Yoga, previously told Well+Good about the benefits of forward folds. "This system directly affects our response to stress, so folds in yoga are really soothing to the nervous system, mind, and body."

Ahead, Narula walks you through mandukasana and offers modifications you can try to make the asana slightly more restorative. Warm up and sink in.

How to do frog pose, step by step, according to a yoga teacher

  1. Begin in an extra-wide knee child's pose and stretch your arms forward. Make sure you are set up either horizontally on your mat or take a blanket underneath your knees for extra cushioning.
  2. Pull your torso forward until your hips line up with your knees. Slide your knees farther apart and move your heels outwards to line up with your knees as you flex your feet. You can place a block underneath the chest and the forehead to ease the intensity in the back body and neck.
  3. If the sensation is too intense in the hips or groin area, you can bring your knees slightly closer together, slide your knees back, or bring your feet closer together.
  4. Keep your breath steady and easeful, and your gaze soft as you remain in this shape.
  5. To come out of the pose, either sit back into a child's pose (the closed-knees version usually feels really nice here) or slide forward and rest on your belly with your legs together and your forehand on the back of your hands interlaced.

Frog pose variations and modifications

Whether frog pose is giving you too much of a stretch, too little, or is just right, you can find a way for the pose to work for you through these frog pose yoga variations.

Padded frog pose

If you have trouble with your knees, make sure to give yourself enough padding as you move into the pose. You can grab a blanket or two pillows to really make sure you're not feeling the floor at all. After all, this pose is not about your knees, it's about, well... everything else.

Frog pose with a bench, block, or other prop

If bringing your torso all the way to the floor feels too intense, place your arms, head, or even chest on an elevated surface. You can use a yoga block for your head or chest, or a bench or bolster (or two yoga blocks) for your forearms.

Half (single-side) frog pose

Lie on your stomach, then bring one knee up so it's forms just one 90-degree angle. Yoga teacher Lindsay Pirozzi of Y7 studio previously told Well+Good that half frog might feel particularly good if you're looking for a little TLC.

"It's so relaxing because you're reclining on the yin side of your body—which is the front or abdomen side," Pirozzi says. "This side is more vulnerable because it hosts our vital organs. When [that area] is protected by the floor, it helps ground us."


If you're a champ at frog pose, you can progress to bhekasana, or "Frog Pose II." From frog pose (mandukasana), you'll want to lit your heels and shins off the ground, and catch the tops of your feet with your hands. That will require you to lift your chest off the floor and arch your spine. Think of it like a bow pose (dhanurasana) but with your knees out to the side instead of straight back behind you.

Get more hip-opening goodness with this yoga flow: 

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