Frog Pose, or Adho Mukha Mandukasana, is a pose that can be easy and comfortable for some students, but challenging and uncomfortable for others.
This inner thigh and hip opening pose can build in intensity pretty quickly.
It can also be triggering for some students.
Keep reading for how to do the pose, how to modify, why using props is essential, and for the emotional component of the pose!
Understanding Frog Pose Basics
Frog Pose: A How-To Guide
Getting into Frog Pose may seem easy for seasoned practitioners, but many may find it difficult at first. Here’s how to cue your students into the pose:
- Set up in a Tabletop position, on all fours. Either face sideways on your mat so that your knees will be padded by the mat, or place folded blankets on either side of the mat.
- Widen your knees out to the sides as far as you can go without strain. The inner part of the knee, rather than the knee caps, should be on the mat.
- Ideally, you’re creating a rectangular shape with the knees and hips. Bend the knees to 90 degrees with the knees in line with the hips.
- Flex your feet so that the inner arches of the feet are on the mat or blanket.
- Then, lower your forearms down to the mat. Allow your hips and chest to ease down toward the mat or floor.
- There are two ways to exit the pose.
- One way is to slide the chest forward and slide the knees back in towards each other. For this exit strategy, you’ll end up laying down on your belly.
- The other way to exit, walk your hands back under your shoulders and draw your feet in towards the midline. Then sit back onto your feet.
How to Modify Frog Pose
Modifying Frog Pose is important for your knees and also for your SI joints.
If your students will be holding Frog Pose for an extended amount of time, especially in a Yin or Restorative practice, it's necessary to support the pubic bone so that the weight of the body doesn’t aggravate the SI joints - which could cause instability in these joints.
- Set up with blankets underneath the knees and ankles. The padding should equally pad the knees, shin bones, ankles, and feet. A folded blanket works best for this, but if no blankets are available, fold up the edges of the mat and face sideways on the mat.
- Place a prop underneath the pubic bone. A bolster or two, a stack of folded blankets, or a block can be used for this. Before your student fully lays down in Frog Pose, have them place a prop of the appropriate height underneath the pubic bone. This allows them to rest on the prop. Supporting the pubic bone in Frog Pose avoids placing unnecessary strain on the SI joints and lower back.
The Benefits of Frog Pose
- stretches the hips and adductors
- promotes healthy digestion
- may be therapeutic for constipation
Frog Pose: Emotions In the Adductors
It’s no secret that the body holds emotions.
This isn’t only true for those who have experienced trauma, but for anyone with a body and emotions - everyone! Somatic therapy is therapy that involves the body.
Unlike CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that involves talking through emotions, somatic therapy involves mind-body exercises and allows people to explore emotions in their bodies in order to heal.
While CBT is a top down approach to healing, somatic therapy is a bottom up approach. This means that feelings are explored in the body and then talked about afterwards.
Some types of somatic therapy involve dance, yoga, meditation, and body movements.
While yoga on its own is not considered somatic therapy, it's helpful for yoga teachers to understand the emotions held in different muscles so that they can better serve their students.
NOTE: Yoga teachers are not therapists and it's important to stick to your scope of practice. If you notice a student having an emotional reaction in a pose, it’s not your job to be their therapist. But you can give them resources like recommending a good therapist to dive into what they felt during their practice.
Frog Pose opens up the hips and adductors. The emotions within the adductors, or inner thigh muscles, are all around intimacy, sensual/sexual contact, and shame.
Psychologically, they’re responsible not only for containing high energy like sensual and sexual energy, but also the ability to enjoy intimacy. The shadow side of this is shame.
Because of the emotions held in the adductors, some students may find Frog Pose triggering or vulnerable.
Emotions influence our muscles—pleasant ones prime us to move, while unpleasant ones can inhibit movement, or cause us to withdraw.
Naming the emotions that students might experience in a pose, especially one that is typically held for longer periods of time such as Frog Pose, can help your students gain understanding of their bodies and minds and the relationship between the two.
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Ask your students questions in Frog Pose. Give them time to reflect on the questions you posed. Some questions you might ask your students in Frog Pose to help them gain understanding could be:
- What are your beliefs around intimacy and sensuality?
- When you were at the age that you started exploring your sensuality and sexuality, was that celebrated and encouraged? Or was it shut down?
- What beliefs around sensuality or sexuality have I adopted from external sources, like family, religion, society, etc?
- Describe the feeling of shame in detail. What color or texture comes up when shame comes to mind? What does it feel like when it comes up?
- How can I respond to shame in a way that lifts me up instead of brings me down?
- What healthy boundaries can I set for myself to improve my relationship to intimacy?
A strict religious upbringing could potentially cause some skewed ideas around intimacy, sensuality, and sexuality.
These beliefs that intimacy is wrong or bad could invite shame. It’s important in this pose to avoid triggering students further or shaming them further by calling out religious beliefs around the body, but instead invite them to reflect on whether their beliefs around intimacy are helpful or causing them harm.
Frog Pose can be a very beneficial, even therapeutic pose for many students.
Encourage your students to modify, use props, and explore what emotions may be stored in their muscles.