Tracey L. Kelley
Downward Frog, not Dog
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
In Yin Yoga, there's an interesting go-to pose called Downward Facing Frog, or Frog (Bhekasana) for short. I confess: this posture isn't a part of my regular sequencing. I see it and right away think of funky knees, sway backs, and Side Split Prep and shy away from it, both in my practice and how I structure students' practices.
But when you make space in your yoga journey, certain elements are revealed to you. Recently, a few students asked about hip and inner thigh tightness, and coincidentally, a colleague also asked me to sub for her Yin Yoga class. My training isn't in Yin, but since I specialize in working with beginners', I have the patience to see the value of holding postures with specific purpose.
In Yin Yoga, key poses are designed to encourage physical, mental, and emotional release by maintaining them for 3-5 minutes at a time. No Sun Salutations or Vinyasa Flow here: the philosophy is "low and slow", working with cold muscles to free connective tissue and fascial tension. So while shadowing my colleague, I held Frog Pose for the first time. It felt like 2 hours, but I think it was only 3 minutes. My ankles didn't turn like in the picture above, I had to keep re-positioning my knees, and when I eventually moved to forearms, I felt uncomfortable in a variety of places. "Ah HA!" I thought. "I was right to avoid this pose!" I was in a strange headspace about it for the rest of class, and thought for sure that I'd be sore later. However, the next day, I felt GREAT. There was a lightness in my hips and undercarriage I hadn't experienced in a long time, and no pain at all. Trying Frog reminded me that exploration in yoga is often necessary to undo old habits and patterns. It also prompted me to stop being so judgemental about aspects of yoga when I know I can make the proper modifications for myself and students and just play around a bit. For me, yoga is a constant reflector of how we move through life: so would I rather play it safe and do the same thing all the time, fearful of what's beyond, or can I jump into new ways of thinking and being over the course of 3 minutes?
(Thanks to Yoga Basics for this image.)