“Engage where necessary, Relax where possible” – David Swenson
In relation to my recent post about always being the student, I learned something a couple of weeks ago in my approach to the elusive box/straddle split – Samakonasa.
The key components of this posture are opening the hips, and re-training the memory of the soft tissue in your groin area – the delicate soft tissue at that.
You may have seen the exercise where you put your feet as wide as possible against a wall and shuffle your bottom ever closer, working on loosening those tight groin muscles. This is a good practice, and one I would occasionally try, but mainly I’d take my Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-leg forward fold) down as far as possible, supporting myself on my elbows and breathing through the stretch.
However, there is an easier way! Consider this – when you go to slip on ice, your body stiffens, clenches and tries to stop you in your tracks to avoid injury (ironically sometimes causing that wonderful groin strain), so when you’re applying that downward pressure on your muscles, and your knees if you’re not mindful of them, you’re putting them under stress – their memory therefore, can become one of discomfort.
So, try this; lie on your back with your bottom up against the wall and your legs up straight (‘legs up the wall’ pose) and simply let your legs flop open as wide as they’ll go. Now breathe, relax and let gravity do the work for you! After a few seconds you’ll start to feel the usual stretching in the groin area, but it’ll be from a place of gentle relaxation, rather than force. Your muscles will now have a happy, relaxed memory of the stretch – no pressure!
I’ve been trying this for a couple of weeks and even got my boyfriend to pencil a little mark on the wall where my heels were… after a few nights lying like this, must to his amusement, look at the difference!
I dream of one day being able to just collapse into a wonderfully easy box split but for now, I’m going to keep lying around against walls as above!
(I’m still working on my monkey pose too).
Try it – let me know how you get on!