The Way to Release One’s Inguen
The first poses in Yoga that a newcomer encounters when straddling his or her mat are the Sukhasana (the Easy/Pleasant pose) and Siddhasana (the Accomplished pose). They seem to be easy but what they sometimes cause is rather discomfort than the promised pleasure. The reason of this is the rigidity of one’s inguinal zone.
This zone becomes even more topical in the course of mastering more complex asanas – Ardha Padmasana (the Half Lotus pose) and Padmasana (the Lotus pose), as well as during one’s performance of pranayamas when in the course of long-lasting sitting one would not want to draw attention away from the pose proper and focus it on discomfort in one’s legs.
Simple “stretching” of the inguinal zone seems to be an easy thing to do yet we may see from the practice that not everyone succeeds. Or it takes him long time to do. One may succeed better in stretching this zone if he uses the knowledge taken from Yoga-therapy.
Before we bring out the nuances of working with the inguinal zone let us look at the most common causes of the phenomenon observed.
- Rigid inguen may come as manifestation of a specific psychological problem – the distrust to one’s body. As a rule, when assisted by an instructor who helps to stretch the zone further and reveal the invisible potential we get our muscle flexibility increased in times. What we need further on is simply practicing.
- If the vertebral column is assumed healthy the muscle stretch can be hindered due to hyper-toned thigh adductors that we may tell by muscular tension in the inguinal zone and inner surface of the thigh, painful insertion sites.
- Hyper-toned thigh adductors may accompany lumbar osteochondrosis, lumbar vertebrae dislocation, lordosis, hernia and intervertebral cartilage prolapse. In this case one should treat the adductors as a symptom and work with them in scope of the complex therapy of the aforementioned diseases.
We shall discuss the approach to stretching in view of the second case – the case of healthy vertebral column.
- Rather often the hyper-toned thigh adductors result from untrained abdominal muscles.
The basic task of the abs – along with glutei – is maintenance of the persons’ vertical position. The said muscles are antagonists. The balance of their tone forms proper arrangement of the thigh joint, and thus of the pelvis — the main bearing support of human body.
The basic function of the abdominal muscles is the torso and pelvis flexing.
The basic function of the glutei is pelvis extension.
When the abdominal muscles become weak – and this happens rather often – the neighbouring sets of muscles, like the thigh flexor (the quadriceps muscle of thigh) come to their assistance, and in case in a while it [the quadriceps] becomes invalid due to its overload, the thigh adductors will come to aid as well. One of the functions performed by the majority of adductors but for hip adduction is the hip flexion.
Thus the adductors may be engaged in solving the task of keeping one’s balance against originally weak abs as well as against originally weak glutei. They “do the work of seven” while the abdominal muscles take their rest.
Based on this knowledge we can rather elegantly unload the hyper-toned thigh adductors by taking up to strengthening glutei and abdominal muscles.
The asanas recommended for abs strengthening are:
— the seated wide angle pose (Upavistha Konasana)
— the half angle pose (Ardha Upavistha Konasana)
— the mountain pose (Tadasana)
The asanas recommended for glutei strengthening are:
— the elephant pose
— the 6 points pose, or the revolved table
2. One can release the hyper-toned adductors by stimulating the muscles that are antagonists as per their basic function (adduction), i.e., the thigh flexors.
— the bowl pose
— side plank
Or simplified variant
3. Another elegant move
Let us consider it by taking Anandasana as an example.
The asana implies opening of the inguinal zone, while both thigh adductors and flexors are initially arranged into the state of equilibrium.
It is interesting here that the thigh adductors are subject to load – when in asana one consciously maintains them in the unusual state of stretching so that they cannot come back to the state of habitual rigidity. In this case they are reacted by functional synergists – the thigh flexors: the leg is adducted to the belly while pelvis bends backwards (the state of anteversion).
Usually in situation like this people who practice yoga try to stretch their inguen even further though the action required here shall be one’s conscious contraction of the gluteus. It is this very effort that will significantly promote muscle stretching.
Anandasana variant — prior to contraction of one’s gluteus
Anandasana variant — after contraction of one’s gluteus
A simplified variant that is more effective in case of rigid inguinal zone
Similar variant – revolved Janu Sirsasana.
The mechanism of this phenomenon
Upon load by stretching the nervous impulsation from the worked out zone gradually increases thus leading to accumulation of excitation and activation of all functions of the muscle (hypothetic model).
The withdrawal of additionally activated functions by means of isolated and conscious engagement of antagonists makes it possible to differentiate muscular involvement in asanas thus increasing their (asanas) effectiveness.
Subject to regular practice such effort enables to acquire a more differentiated aware activation of the muscle. This comes as another step on the way of evolutional development and reveals the possibilities of sophisticated deployment of one’s body.
There is another important practical nuance that we should mention here.
The muscle flexibility becomes even better upon engagement of extensors along the muscular channel (in Anandasana and Parivritta Janu Sirsasana in addition to glutei both vertebral column extensors and the muscles that bring shoulder blades closer to each other are also subject to contraction). As a rule, a muscular channel, or chain (L. Byuske) is correlated with energetic channel (A.G. Safronov, “Yoga: Physiology, Psychosomatics, Bioenergetics).
Important: should you have any problem with your vertebral column it is essential that you consult a competent yoga-therapist – in this case some of the suggested asanas may be contra-indicated.
Wish you a successful practice!!