Frogs are known as animals of good luck, abundance and good health throughout the world. The Japanese and Romans believe the frog to be a symbol of good luck. The ancient Egyptian goddess, Heqet represented childbirth, fertility, long life and was a symbol of resurrection. Native Americans and Aborigines believe that the frog calls the rains to the earth, cleansing and bringing abundant crops. In China, you often see frogs with a gold coin in their mouths, representing wealth and good fortune.
Frogs are strongly related to the water element as they are born in the water and generally live near it. Frogs go through a metamorphosis, evolving from eggs into tadpoles and finally growing into adulthood. Therefore, frogs can help us move through the many changes in life on your way to growing into your fullness. As you blossom into yourself, you grow into your own creative power to feel, heal, connect and support those around you.
Within the yoga asana world, there are several types of frog poses, just like nature has created many varieties of frogs. We will be exploring the variations below as well as letting our teachers share in their creativity with their favorites this month!
Frog postures have some sort of bend in the knees. If you are taking care of your knees, please be mindful of your healthy limitations and take a version that works for you and does not cause pain. Everything can be modified. All frogs open the legs and hips in some way. Please ask questions and check-in with your instructors so they can help keep you safe.
One of the more common versions of Frog Pose or Bhekasana is a kneeling pose with the legs wide and the chest resting down towards the floor. Start in all fours and for more comfort, place a wide blanket under the knees. Walk the knees as wide as they will comfortably go, keeping the hips stacked above the knees and the heels directly behind the knees, toes turn out to the sides. The hands can stay supportive with the arms straight as you let the hips relax and open. To deepen the pose, lower down to blocks, forearms, a bolster or even the chest to the floor. Hold this pose for 2-5 minutes. The body will slowly unwind and the knees may get wider while holding the pose. To release, bring the feet together, lift the upper body and slowly walk the knees in.
With this frog and all of them, feel free to take any kind of counter pose the body is craving after holding the posture. Some nice options are child’s pose, cats and cows, savasana, or knees to chest. Get creative and listen to what the body needs to release the postures completely.
Restorative Half Frog:
A super restorative version of frog pose is to start prone, laying flat on the floor. Slide one knee out to the side with the hip and knee in approximately 90˚ angles. The hands can be in goal post shapes framing the head or rest the forehead on stacked hands. Breathe, rest and hold for 2-5 minutes on each side.
Another nice version is to start kneeling (putting a blanket under the knees offers more comfort), spread the knees as wide as they will comfortably go while keeping the big toes together under the hips. Extend the spine upward, resting the arms down toward the floor. Bringing the pelvis into neutral enhances the sensations and protects the lower back in this version.
Another option from here is to extend the torso and arms forward and down towards the floor, similar to child’s pose. What changes for you from the upright to the prone versions of this pose? Do you have a preference between the two?
In this version we begin in a low squat on our toes, knees fully bent. As you turn the knees out wide, let the heels roll in and touch each other. The finger tips can be on the floor or blocks. Turn your awareness towards resting through the feet, legs and hips while elongating and elevating the spine towards the sky. The shoulders can rest back and down.
Start in the Squatting Frog as above with the fingers on the floor or blocks and the heels elevated and touching. Take a deep breath into the lift of the spine. With the exhale, press into the feet, straightening the legs and releasing the spine down into a forward fold. The heels stay together and lifted. Inhale and return to the squat with the lifted spine. Repeat 5-20 times with the breath. If you get dizzy, slow down or take a break.
One last version for today. I’m sure there are more out there but this post is getting long!
Start prone on your belly again with your legs out behind you. We’ll start with half of this frog and if it feels good go on to the full version. Lift the torso into Sphinx pose with the forearms on the floor, lifted into a little backbend. Bend one knee and reach back with the same hand to grab the foot. We want the hips to stay level on the floor here. The forearm on the floor, supporting the upper body can remain with the fingertips pointing forward or turn inward (parallel to the front edge of your mat), whichever is more supportive. Begin pulling the foot towards the glutes, working your fingertips down towards your ankle and lifting the elbow towards the sky. Press the top of the foot down with the palm so the foot comes close to the glutes, then to the outer edge of the hip and one day the foot will reach very close to or near the floor. This is an intense quad stretch. Please be mindful of the knee and keep lifting out of the supportive shoulder so there isn’t any crunching going on in the shoulders or neck.
Below you’ll also find a supported version with a bolster helping support the back bend. Place the bolster near the upper abdomen and lower ribs in the Sphinx portion of this pose and keep it there throughout both sides or even in full frog (image all the way at the bottom of the page.)
For the full version we double this. From your belly, reach back and grab both feet (as if you were going to move into Bow Pose or Danurasna). Press down on the feet so you can work your fingertips to turn towards your ankles and knees. As the elbows bend, squeeze them in toward each other, upward toward the ceiling. Ask the shoulder blades to slide down the back and let the neck gaze forward softly. This is a huge stretch for the quads and front of the shoulders. We also end up in a back bend, strengthening the spine.