Lotus Foundations

Lotus Foundations

padmasana

LOTUS FOUNDATIONS

Lotus Pose requires a healthy amount of hip flexibility. For some, it comes easy. Reasons for this might be that the person is hypermobile in the hips, knees, and ankles and/or that many months or years of effort have been put towards developing the capability in their bodies.  

If we push our limits to get into Lotus before our bodies are prepared, we can cause injuries that might have been prevented had we properly warmed up for such a deep posture. Implementing a “take a step back” mentality is key in moving our potential forward in the accessibility of Lotus.

Warming up doesn’t mean going straight into stretching and lengthening as much as possible. What we’ll see Matt demonstrate today is the importance of strengthening and contracting the muscles first.

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STRENGTHEN THE EXTERNAL ROTATORS

Homing in on the foundations is the “step back”; it’s like pulling an elastic band as far back as we can before we let it go. The farther back we pull, the further forward it will fly.

In the video, Matt demonstrates two variations of Baddha Konasana to get us started.  

Variation I

This will activate the external rotators of the hip. Getting into the posture requires widening the knees and bringing the soles of the feet together. Pressing the feet down while lifting the hips initiates the engagement of the external rotators so that we can access maximum external rotation of the hips.

Variation II

This time, we internally rotate the legs and take the feet wider than the knees to do the lift. These actions will support the engagement of the tensor fasciae latae (TFL, an internal rotator) but will also continue to activate the external rotators.

WATCH THE VIDEO

LOTUS FOUNDATIONS: HOW TO MAXIMIZE HIP FLEXIBILITY

TARGET THE HIP FLEXORS

Targeting the muscles of the full circumference of the hips is essential when preparing for Lotus. Matt demonstrates 2 effective drills/postures to target the hip flexors.

Scissor Legs

Scissoring the legs will help us connect with the sensation of activating the hip flexors, but it’s the pulsing of the legs that builds more heat and stimulation of the muscles.

Happy Baby Pose Without Hands

Once again, we are in deep hip flexion, but it’s about more than just drawing the legs in close. Being intentional about actively pulling the feet in, as if we were holding them with our hands, while pushing the knees out is what produces the activation of the adductor muscles.

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ISOMETRIC ENGAGEMENTS

One notable benefit of isometric exercises is that they help to recruit many muscle fibers at once.  “Most muscle strengthening exercises involve moving the joints, using the muscles to push or pull against resistance. However, isometric exercises involve holding static positions for long periods of time.”

Kandola, Aaron. 5 Isometric Exercises For People To Try. Medical News Today, June 26, 2023

This form of muscle contraction is commonplace in Matt’s classes.  In the video, he teaches us how to effectively use this type of engagement in the following postures when preparing for Lotus:

Crescent Pose Preparation

The action of drawing both feet towards one another and pressing down through the front heel will assist in activating the glutes and hamstrings of the front leg, while activating the hip flexors of the back leg.

Humble Warrior 

Pressing the sole of the back foot down and dragging it forward while pressing down through the heel of the front foot will assist in activating the back adductors and gluteus muscles.

Pigeon Pose

Pulling the two knees towards one another isometrically in the stretched position will help to activate the glute and hamstring muscles of the front leg and hip flexors and adductors of the back leg.

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AWAKEN THE OUTER HIP MUSCLES

Finally, we look at the outer hip muscles.  In a Forward Fold position, we push the back of the legs outwards.  This will ignite the gluteus medius and minimus.  We can layer on TFL activation by lifting each leg and pulling it forward to tap the back of each respective wrist.

Today’s postures may be part of a typical physical practice, but when we “dial back” and implement the actions that will strengthen and arouse the activation of the hip muscles, we can be more confident in moving towards greater flexibility and mobility to safely experiment with Lotus pose.

Matt’s upcoming workshop Hip Release will guide you towards a better understanding of how to maximize flexibility, strength, and mobility of the hips.

Register here to optimize your potential.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Lotus Immersion

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