As Seen on TV: How to squeeze your way to shapely hips + thighs
(No Thighmaster required)
“Some people were born with great legs. Others have to work at it,” Suzanne Somers told us in the 90s. But ladies (and gents), there’s no need to spend $19.99 + shipping and handling on a Thighmaster device to “squeeze your way to shapely hips and thighs.” All you really need is yoga.
Have you ever heard the cue in yoga class to Thighmaster your thighs? When you hear this cue we’re talking about engaging your inner thigh muscles.
The inner thigh muscles–also known as the adductor group–consist of five different muscles, the pectineus, the adductor longus, brevis and magnus, and the gracilis muscle. The five adductor muscles attach on the inside of your femur (thighbone) and on the other end of the ischial tuberosity (sit bones), or pubic bone. The shorter adductors, the pectineus and the adductor brevis, insert on the back (posterior) of the upper femur. The adductor longus and adductor magnus are longer and larger, and originate at the back of the thighbone, on the middle and lower part of the femur. The longest adductor, the gracilis, is a strap-like muscle that runs from the pubic bone to below the knee, on the inner upper tibia (shinbone). Surprisingly the adductors are larger than the hamstrings and almost as big as the quadriceps.
In our yoga practice, the engaging of the adductor muscles is essential for proper alignment in the hips and low back. And with this alignment and engagement comes that toning Suzanne talks about in her infomercials.
When the adductors engage they help to bring the thighs together (hip adduction), as in poses like Bakasana (crane pose), Tittibasana (firefly pose), and inversions. It’s the inner thighs that keep your legs up in crane and firefly poses by squeezing your legs towards each other and into the outer arms. The engagement of your inner thighs in your inversions will bring your legs together where you’ll also find more stability. The activity in the adductors allows you to find your pelvic floor giving you more control, efficiency, and effortlessness in your arm balances and inversions.
If you find it challenging to keep your legs together in your inversions or to get your lift in crow pose, strengthening the adductors will be beneficial. There are a handful of exercises to help activate the inner thighs like placing a small ball or a yoga block in between the thighs in your inversion applying constant pressure to the block. Squeezing a block between your thighs in bridge pose (Sethu Bandhasana) will strengthen the adductors with your hips extended helping with your inversions and backbends. Practicing boat pose (Navasana) with a block between the thighs will train the adductors to work with the abdominals giving you a feel for what you need to activate in your arm balances.
The adductors need to be strong and engaged in some poses while they need to relax and lengthen in others, especially when we look at forward bends. When they stretch they open up poses like Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose) and Upavistha Konasana (wide angle seated forward bend). The length of the adductors can be the difference between forward folding deeply and just trying to sit upright in these poses.
Stretching these muscles not only lengthens the adductors but also affects the way we breathe by way of the muscles being connected in our body. The adductors connect to the pelvic floor which connects to the psoas then to the diaphragm. So when you stretch your inner thighs you are stretching the diaphragm and your breath becomes more expansive.
So leave your Thighmaster in the past. Yoga is the perfect way to tone the inner thighs and go beyond the physical. Your practice on the mat stretches beyond the thighs and body by providing mental and spiritual benefits that will permeate your life off your mat.
Yoga: “It’s quick. It’s easy. And it really works.”
Join us on the mat.
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