Bhekasana/Mandukasana aka the Frog Posture

frog pose
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Bhekasana or frog posture is an intermediate yoga pose that might be tough for beginners. However, work with a yoga instructor and practice. This is one of the best asanas for strengthening the stomach muscles and organs. It increases blood flow and can rejuvenate the knee joints.

Exploring Frog Posture

Bhekasana or Mandukasana is derived from Sanskrit भेकासन. The root words are Bheka (frog) and Asana which means (posture). Because the body takes the shape of a frog in this asana, it’s considered an intermediate pose. This reclining posture takes a frog shape where you’re lying down on the floor on your belly.

Spreading your legs at your side is sometimes difficult to achieve as you have to gradually work on this to achieve a greater range of motion. Hence, your back is bent and you are flexing the middle of your back. With your knees bent, hands near your hips and feet pushed down, while challenging, this pose can strengthen the ankles and knees.

Frog posture benefits several muscle groups. These include the quadriceps, knees, abs, feet, ankles, biceps, lower back and triceps. Commonly used in yoga sequences, frog posture might be included in core yoga and Iyengar yoga.

Frog Posture Benefits

Frog posture provides several benefits. It can help improve the adrenal glands because the deep stretch affects the stomach and kidney area. When the adrenal glands are activated, you can receive a sudden release of energy. Stretching with this asana can also cause an improvement in the pancreas. That’s because the stretching and pressure to your low abdomen can increase secretions in this hormone which is just under the abdomen.

This asana is also helpful for improving the internal and reproductive organs. It can also improve hormone rates in the body. As a way to stretch, strengthen and tighten the quadriceps, this pose opens the muscles and can create stronger legs making it ideal for athletes. 

Additional benefits from frog position pose include that it deeply stretches the lower body (legs and hips). Muscles that can feel stretching and strengthening include the calves, ankles, quadriceps, feet and hamstrings. The lower abdomen is massaged gently with this asana while it also opens the chest wall and can improve breathing. The upper body (arms and shoulders) also benefits from this deep stretch.

With the backbend in this posture, the middle and low back receive pressure and increased mobility. You will also find that by using deep breathing, you can increase the range of motion and flexibility throughout the body. Hence, do this pose slowly and don’t rush.

Precautions with Frog Posture

Because frog pose is challenging even for the pros, it comes with a few precautions. Do not practice this yoga pose if you are pregnant. Because you are stretching the belly, you’re also reducing the oxygen level. And, it’s for that reason that this pose isn’t recommended as you don’t want to cause injury to your baby or stretch in a way that depletes the oxygen. Additionally, as this pose stretches the stomach muscles and adjacent organs, it’s best not to do this pose if you have any stomach or intestine problems.

Avoid this pose if you had a recent surgery or are experiencing any kind of knee, ankle, back, leg, neck or shoulder pain. Because this pose requires that you push your ankles down, it’s imperative that you don’t press them deeply into the ground. Doing so can cause injury to the sensitive ankle tissues and tendons.

As the knees and lower back experience a deep bend, it’s best to avoid this position if you had surgery on these areas or have any kind of sprain or pain. While frog is considered a stretching and strengthening pose, you are bending the knees backward and applying pressure to your spine and back muscles. Pressure is also applied to the shoulders and hips.

Protecting Your Groin and Sacro-Iliac Joints

One reason to take caution and only work with an experienced yoga teacher is to not open or stretch the hips too much. As this is a demanding pose, over-flexing them can cause balance issues, sprains, fractures, pain and other ailments.

The concern here is the sacroiliac joint and the thigh muscles. Hence, some classes teach frog yoga positions and others avoid it entirely. When it’s taught in class, some hold this position for 30-60 minutes. It’s comparable to Half Pigeon Pose in which you let gravity apply pressure to the hip region. The concern is by forcing the hips open, you could tear your groin or Sacro-iliac joint.

Alternative Poses

While there are about 40 million Americans who practice yoga, no one wants to risk a potential injury. A better position that won’t cause injury might include Butterfly pose, Straddle Forward Pose or doing Frog position when lying on your back, not your stomach.

FAQs

How do I get better at frog pose?

Frog position takes time to do because it’s challenging and such a deep stretch. However, there are ways to change this asana into one that is restorative.

Start by putting rolled-up towels, blankets, a bolster or pillow under your low chest and between your legs. You can also add supportive blocks under your waist to help give added support to your hips. This should help especially as you start to go lower into Mandukasana.

Factor in that working on deep breathing can also help as you gradually let your muscles relax. Remember, this is about using gravity, not force to avoid injury. Stop if you experience pain and only work with an experienced yogi or yogini.

Consistent practice can help to address and release tight muscles. However, injuries tend to start if you push too past your body’s limits. If you find yourself straining or unable to breathe through the asana, stop and listen to your body.

What is frog pose good for?

Frog position is an ideal stretch for the legs, lower back and hips. While a hip opening exercise, don’t open the hips too much as you want to avoid injury. This asana is very calming and soothing to the body and mind. It offers a comforting massage to tight or stiff muscle groups and it can help to release stressful thoughts.

How long should you hold frog pose?

As a beginner, try to hold this position for up to a minute. Then aim for 1 to 3 minutes each time you attempt it. Ideally, you’ll want to work your way up to about 5 minutes. Once you’re comfortable with this particular pose, consider adding it to your yoga routine.

When you are ready to start coming out of this asana, bring the feet together. Then use your hands and start to push away from the ground. Next, draw your needs in one by one. You may then wish to go into Child Pose or stand back up slowly and get into Mountain Pose. Some students go from Wide Child’s Pose directly into Frog position so alternate for a deeper stretch to the thighs and back. 

What muscles does frog pose stretch?

Frog yoga position is a hip-opening pose that also opens up the groin area. Muscle groups that it stretches include the inner thigh muscles or adductors (a part of the groin area). It also stretches the abdomen and hips.

Is Frog Pose Bad?

As an advanced and more challenging position, Frogpose is very demanding. It can cause severe injury like a displaced hip joint. Other ailments that you want to avoid include sacroiliac pain, back pain and groin pain. Hence, it’s best to work with an experienced yoga teacher who can help you work on strengthening your back muscles without causing injury. If you’re careful with this position and consistently do it to build muscle and increase your flexibility, you’ll find that you can prove your posture and build back muscles that support the spine.