Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hard Groins, Locked Pelvis, Hidden Backbend

The dictionary says that a groin is "a crease or hollow at the junction of the inner part of each thigh with the trunk."

I'm giving you this definition because "groin" is a generic term. It's not specific. Groins can be hard to find. And they're hard to teach about because...well because your groins are close to your private parts. And I can't just walk up to you and point at your groins or touch your groins without the possibility of ruining your yoga experience and my reputation.

Yet the groins hold to the key to a very simple but powerful yoga tip.

If you can figure out where your groins are, you can touch them. And you can be sure when you touch them that if your groins are hard and protruding, your pelvis is less functional than it would be if your groins were soft and hollow.

You can stop reading right there if you want to. It's a great tip in and of itself.

This trouble with hard protuding groins is never more obvious to me than at the start of wide-leg standing poses.

Take triangle pose (utthita trikonasana), for instance. To do triangle pose you first step your feet wide apart, then your turn your feet and legs. Since I usually start on the right side, I turn my left foot inward, then I rotate my right leg and foot outward so that my right knee and foot point to the right.

For most of us, we haven't yet begun the pose, but our fate is already sealed by a locked up pelvis.

You can find this out for yourself if you follow the instuctions I just gave you above. (Don't just read about it. Get up. Do it.) If you've got your feet turned so they point to the right, like I asked you to, you'll probably notice a few common body patterns:

1. Your shoulders, abdomen and pelvis are probably turned slightly (or not so slightly) to the right also. So instead of being squared up with the wall in front of you, you've rotated rightward.
2. Your right hip is lower than your left hip.
3. Your left groin is hard and protruding, while your right groin is soft and hollow.

When one or both groins are hard and protruding, you're not as free to move your pelvis as you would be if they were both soft and hollow. If your left groin were soft and hollow you could more easily shift your pelvis into a deeper triangle pose.

So how do you make your left groin soft and hollow? Bend forward. When you do a forward bend, notice that your torso moves forward and your pelvis moves backward. When your pelvis is back, your groins are soft and hollow and you can move it freely now into the pose.

Maybe the most important thing to notice here is that many of us, whether we're standing around or doing a yoga posture, are doing a "hidden" backbend. We're backbending, but we don't know it. When I look at most untrained yoga students from the side in nearly any standing pose, their legs are not vertical. Rather, their pelvises are positioned forward (over their toes, not their ankles) so their legs appear to be leaning forward. They look that way because they are learning forward.

If you begin your triangle pose with a hidden backbend and a hard groin, it's unlikely you'll get rid of it as you come down into the final position. So check it out. In your triangle pose, are your torso and head thrown back in a back bend? If they are, the opposite hip will be thrust forward and the groin will be hard.

So start checking yourself for hard protruding groins in standing poses. If you've got 'em, chances are good you're backbending and you don't know it. Forward bend enough to make the groins hollow and you're on your way.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., I was teaching the Experience Sanskrit workshop a couple months ago in St. Louis when one of my students said she remembers that the Sanskrit word kona (as in trikonasana) means "angle" because she associates it with the word "corner." Brilliant. Get it? Kona sorta sound like "corner."

That's what the Experience Sanskrit workshop is all about...association. We give you vivid experiences that you can associate with yoga poses so that the Sanskrit names become unforgettable. Don't miss this great opportunity to join us for this fun, four-hour workshop.

Our next workshop date is in Dallas at the Surya Center for Yoga on November 5. It's coming soon. So register at Do it before Saturday, when the price goes up to $60. You get a 100-page companion course guide to use and take home with you. Register today.

Find out more at

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.


Anonymous said...

Well, I do not actually imagine it is likely to have success.

2:24 AM  

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