Yoga Moves

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

Photo: Getty Imags/Edwin Tan
If you're a human being, chances are you have 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) 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 bhekasana—is another asana that deserves a place in your rotation.

According to Neeti Narula of 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. It also is a deep groin opener—especially for the adductors—an area that most of us aren't used to stretching very frequently," she says. To boot, 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.

While Narula says everyone can benefit from frog pose, those who do hip-heavy sports may especially reap the rewards. "It's great for people who run, bike, or are seated all day. 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," she points out. However, 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.)

Ahead, Narula walks you through bhekasana 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.

Get more hip-opening goodness with this yoga flow: 

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