TECHNIQUE FOR DEEPER FORWARD FOLDS

ACTIVATE TFL & RECTUS FEMORIS TO INCREASE HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY

FORWARD FOLDS

DEEPER FORWARD FOLDS: PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA

It’s not unusual to feel “stuck” in our yoga practice at times. We may come to a place in our physical practice where we are not experiencing our full potential. One of the common areas we may feel “stuck” is with our flexibility.

In my previous article, Healthy Hamstrings, I discussed a technique Matt shows us to create more flexibility in our bodies: facilitated stretching. There is yet another technique to encourage a flexible body, which I want to discuss more here. That’s reciprocal inhibition.

Reciprocal inhibition is doing the opposite of what a facilitated stretch asks us to do. It’s true that we are still activating muscles in order to achieve greater flexibility, but we are now activating the muscles that oppose the muscles that are stretching.

In today’s video, Matt demonstrates how to explore these actions in Prasarita Padottanasana: Wide-Legged Forward Fold.

PRASARITA PADOTTANASA: WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD FOLD

In Prasarita Padottanasana (an open-hip posture), our legs are in abduction, while we also flex at the hip. This position requires flexibility in our hips, adductors, and hamstrings, and there are also key areas to explore activation of potential strength. These areas include adductors, abductors, quads (including the rectus femoris, which is also a hip flexor), and hamstrings.

Activating the adductors and hamstrings supports the facilitated stretch technique because those muscle groups are already being actively stretched. On the other hand, activating the abductors and quadriceps generates the reciprocal inhibition technique, because those muscles oppose the adductors and hamstrings. In this video segment, Matt demonstrates why and how to activate the quadriceps and one of the abductors, called tensor fasciae latae, or TFL for short.

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen and mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advance your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$148.00 $118.00

PREPARE THE POSTURE

With your feet spread wide on your mat, turn your thighs slightly inward. This will allow your toes to also turn slightly towards one another.
With your hands on your hips, initiate an anterior tilt of your pelvis as you tip your torso forward.
Hands come to the floor or blocks in front of you to support. If your hamstrings feel tight in this position, reciprocal inhibition is about to help with that.

How to Activate Your Quadriceps: Reciprocal Inhibition Technique

Activate your quads by energetically lifting your thighs away from your knee caps.
Feel as though you are drawing your upper thigh bones up into your hip socket. Matt describes this as almost “suction-cupping” your thigh bones upward, which will help turn on hip flexors and quads.

You activate reciprocal inhibition the moment you engage your quads, because when these muscles are activated, the opposing muscles release (in this case, the hamstrings), and you’re able to relax more deeply into the pose.

TENSOR FASCIAE LATAE (TFL) ENGAGEMENT FOR DEEPER FORWARD FOLDS 

Just as activation of your quad muscles, in particular the rectus femoris, will help you deepen into your forward fold, Matt explains that activating the TFL (tensor fasciae latae) will also deepen forward folds. Like the rectus femoris, the TFL is also a hip flexor but can be easier to engage because of its additional functions as an abductor and internal rotator. By isometrically pressing your heels away from each other, you will trigger TFL to engage. Pushing the heels or backs of the legs away from each other is both abduction and initiates internal rotation. If you don’t know these anatomy terms, do not worry; just apply the action of pressing the backs of the legs apart and you will feel your outer hips engage, supporting you in tipping your pelvis forward.

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Why take this approach?

 Aside from achieving deeper forward folds, is there a reason to apply this approach? We must, in a sense, be a “professor in our postures.”  What does this mean?

It means that there is infinite space for inquiry in our practice. Each time we step onto the mat, we have an opportunity to examine and reflect on how we approach our practice. Equipped with this kind of knowledge, our practice becomes more informed and supports our ability to realize our potential and create resilient and healthy tissues. Then we really start tapping into what is available to us in our bodies by using fundamental actions that our bodies are so brilliantly designed to perform.

Matt’s November 2021 Immersion, Spinal Awakening, includes the following:

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Techniques to strengthen and mobilize the spine
  • Releasing back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advancing your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

Take advantage of this opportunity to awaken both mind and body.  

Already have Spinal Awakening and want another immersion to support you in deeper forward folds? We suggest the Hips & Hamstrings Immersion!

Written By Trish Curling 

online yoga immersion for the spine

SPINAL AWAKENING

November 2021 Immersion

  • Twists • side bends • forward folds • heart openers
  • Learn techniques to strengthen and mobilize your spine
  • Release back tension and discomfort
  • Twelve 75-minute classes, all levels appropriate
  • Advance your postural practice
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

$148.00 $118.00

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