Psoas muscle paradise—or hell—can be found here today
I’m always a little surprised at how challenged some folks in my classes appear to be with a position like the one I’m about to foist on you today. Most people in my classes appear to be relatively flexible, but somehow the flexibility has skipped over their inner-thigh, psoas muscles. But fear not! Grounded Butterfly Pose to the rescue!
In three easy steps:
1. Squat at the back of your mat with your knees pointed out to the side and both the heels and the balls of your feet touching. Touch your fingertips down on your mat (or on yoga blocks, if you need more height). Take two deep, slow breaths.
2. Keeping the knees on the outside of your mat, lean forward onto your hands. Note that the feet should stay together. Note also that the hip bone and inner thighs should press toward the floor. Take two slow breaths here.
3. Continue leaning forward and down until your abdomen and chest are flat on the mat as pictured. Set your chin down; set the hands somewhere under your shoulders. Take five slow breaths in this position.
Just to clarify, as sometimes people wind up in this pose: this is not what we’re looking for in this position. Your hips don’t stay up high as you sit on your heels; rather, you slide forward and down so your body is as flat as possible, as illustrated in the third picture above.
Otherwise, you don’t have the “Grounded Butterfly” Pose, you have the “I Wish I Hadn’t Eaten That” Pose.
Benefits: Fantastic stretch to the psoas muscles on the inner thighs and fantastic hip joint opener whose intensity you can dial by how close or how far your feet are away from your hips. Good pectoral and front-of-the-neck stretch too.
Avoid if: If your psoas muscles (it’s pronounce so-azz; silent initial “p”) are tight and you can’t quite flatten your legs onto the floor, try it with your knees as wide as you can but with your feet slightly elevated. You can work your way eventually into inner thighs flat on the ground. (And by “eventually,” I don’t mean “today.”) If your knees or hip joints hurt in this position, so much so that your body looks more like the X’d out pose above, then you might want to stick with that position instead. You won’t get much of a psoas stretch, but it’ll still open up your chest and lengthen your spine.
Final thoughts: After discussing psoas pstretches, I can get rather psilly with psilent initial P’s.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own