Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Activate where necessary, relax where possible - the use of the hip flexors in Utthita Hasta Pandangustasana

I've recently had a couple of teachers adjust my utthita hasta padangustasana giving me the same instruction, to relax the hip flexors in the first two stages (front and out to side) and only engage when you release the leg to hold it in place.

So previously I've worked out that I have to drop the sitting bone / drop the ball into the socket or however you want to describe it. This has been working just fine, hips beginning to open slowly and being able to hold the posture for longer without falling out.

But this has transformed the pose to even greater extents! No way? - I hear you cry! Yes way. SO this is how I think it works...

In the first two stages you relax the hip, drop the sitting bone to level the hips to get your balance, you then use and engage your arm, your biceps, to hold the leg up, pulling the leg up as if it were a 'dead weight'. Still leading with your arm only you take the leg out to the side, letting the leg follow, still relaxing the hip flexors, you continue to hold the leg, using the bicep to pull the leg towards the body. You then, still using the arm only, take the leg back out to the front - in fact it's not the front, I'd say hold it about 10 degrees out from the midline of the body - you 'bow' to the leg pulling it to its highest point. You stand straight and release said leg and then...only THEN...engage all the hip flexors in the world to hold the leg up!!

Activate where necessary, relax where possible. It appears that the passive stretch of the hip in this posture in the first two stages stretches the required muscles to get a deep posture, without wearing them out, leaving the strength of the hip flexors for holding the leg in the final stage. You will find the posture will not wear you out, you will feel the whole posture lighter and the passive stretch of the hip flexors will allow you to hold the leg higher in the final stage.



  1. micqui,
    great post. i will try to think about this tomorrow in practice. this pose always wipes me out when i do it by myself.

    so when your leg is in front for the last part, do you find that your leg is rotated out slightly (toes pointing slightly out, maybe 5-10 degrees) *so that the hip drops i guess? maybe this is my weird compensation at this point for tight hips? i think i have had the standing foot turned out slightly which is the same thing as your bringing the leg back in not quite all the way to the midline.

  2. Thanks Suzanne! No, my foot is straight for the last bit, but yes, you should aim for a outwards rotation on the second (side) extension. I might try a slight outward rotation actually, see if it makes a difference..interesting! Thinking about the standing leg foot being out a bit, this wouldn't affect the positioning of the outstretched leg though because its about the angle of the outstreatched leg in the hip socket not the positioning of the left hip, but let me know what you think anyway! Would be good to know! :)