Forward bends, backbends – we do alot of these in yoga classes, but how much do your really pay attention to how you make them happen? In this week’s Yoga for Hips and Hamstring class we explored the antagonist muscles of the flexors and extensors.
Forward Bends, Backbends and the Hip Flexors
The Hip Flexors take you into a forward bend – both taking chest toward thigh and thigh
toward chest. These crucial muscles spend alot of time contracting in our society as we sit in our chairs. Understanding them better and being able to isolate them will help you to better release the tensions of sitting. Take a look at the picture to the right to get an idea where these muscles are. Now, try a few forward bends, backbends to see if you can feel them as they stretch and as they contract. (For more about the Hamstrings, check out this post.)
Forward Bends, Backbends and the Hip Extensors
The Hip Extensors take you into a backbend. But we should be clear here that this is a backbend of the HIPS. Other muscles backbend your back. And we will try to isolate one from the other in our practice so we can become more familiar with the Hip Flexors. These muscles tend to spend alot of time stretched as we sit, but also compressed as we generally sit with our bodyweight right on top of them in our chairs. By stretching and strengthening the extensors we help normal circulation and functionality return. Take a look at the picture to the right to see the muscles we are talking about here. Now, try a few forward bends, backbends and see if you can feel them stretch and contract as you move. Can you also feel the difference between backbending the hip and backbending the spine?
Forward Bends, Backbends Yoga Practice
Now let’s take this knowledge into a short 15 minute yoga practice. Below, you will find both a printable practice and a video practice. They are the same practice, use the one most suitable to your learning style. You get a little more info with the video. It begins with a little discussion of the muscles that make up the flexor and extensor groups, so if you would like a little more anatomy, try the video. The video also contains cues for developing greater awareness of which muscles perform which actions in your forward bends and backbends. I hope you find this practice helpful.