Yoga Anatomy: How to Engage Your Adductors

The adductor muscles in your legs are located in your inner thighs. When these muscles contract, they “adduct” your legs. In other words, they draw your legs in toward your midline.

Yoga Asanas that Engage Your Adductor Muscles

You can get a feel for isolating the proximal adductor group first in Utkatasana (Fierce Pose) and Navasana (Boat Pose). Once you gain awareness of these muscles, you can use them to refine Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). You can do this by visualizing drawing the upper inner thighs toward one another. This contracts the adductors longus and brevis and pectineus, which adduct, flex, and externally rotate the femurs.

Co-activate the adductor group with the tensor fascia lata (these connect to the iliotibial band and are pictured below on the outer sides of the femurs) to stabilize the pelvis, flex the hips, and balance internal and external rotation of the femurs.

How to Equalize the Abductors and Adductors in Tadaasana & Urdhva Hastasana

Equalize the abductors and adductors in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose).               

  1. Begin by spreading the weight evenly across the soles of the feet. To learn about the muscles used for this, see our post, “How to Balance Opposites in the Foot and Ankle.”
  2. Engage the TFL by pressing the balls of the feet into the mat and gently trying to drag the feet apart. Feel how this activates the muscles on the sides of the hips (the TFL and front part of the gluteus medius).
  3. Simultaneously contract the adductor group by drawing the upper thighs together. These actions give an alive and springy feel to the asana.
  4. Then gradually decrease the muscular effort required to hold the pose. A light sense of stability and stillness remains.

When you’re combining antagonistic muscle groups, you might experience that the action seems to shift from one side of the hip to the other. With practice, this alternation ebbs away. This is because the unconscious brain quickly forms circuitry to refine the combination of opposing forces and produce stillness.

The ancient Chinese oracle, The I Ching, addresses this concept in sign number 52, which translates to Keeping Still. According to the Wilhelm translation:

The Book of Changes holds that rest is merely a state of polarity that always posits movement as its complement.”

Possibly the words of the text embody directions for the practice of yoga.

More from Ray Long, MD, FRCSC – How Your Downward Dog Promotes Graceful Aging.

Study with YogaUOnline and master teacher, Donna Farhi – Yoga for Back Health: Keys to Maintaining Sacroiliac Joint Stability & Pelvic and Spinal Stability.

Reprinted with permission from the Daily Bandha

Author Ray Long MD FRCSC is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga. Ray graduated from The University of Michigan Medical School with post-graduate training at Cornell University, McGill University, The University of Montreal and Florida Orthopedic Institute. He has studied hatha yoga for over twenty years, training extensively with B.K.S. Iyengar and other leading yoga masters.

Chris Macivor3d Graphic Designer / Illustrator Chris Macivor has been involved in the field of digital content creation for well over ten years. He is a graduate of Etobicoke School of the Arts, Sheridan College and Seneca College. Chris considers himself to be equally artistic and technical in nature. As such his work has spanned many genres from film and television to video games and underwater imagery.  

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