-My Spin On The Cossack Stretch-
The Cossack stretch is a great movement that emphasizes adductor (inner thigh) flexibility as well as hip mobility. The “typical” way you’ll see it done is, in my opinion, a bit advanced for some people. Why? It requires you to be in an upright position with hands off the floor, which demands good hip mobility. Obviously hip mobility is a GOOD thing, BUT for those who are limited, the “typical” Cossack stretch isn’t a good idea. For example, one of my clients has a super-tight low back and tight hips (a vicious cycle, lol), so asking her to perform a typical Cossack stretch would be asenine. She wouldn’t be able to drop her hips down while raising her chest up. I have her stick with the “easier” progressions, which allow her to work on her hip mobility while giving that dern tight low back a break!
I have come up with a progression series (although it’s not rocket science, and i’m sure someone else has done these before me) of four levels. Levels I-III have keep hands on the floor, while Level IV is hands-free. Level IV is also not the most advanced progression, as you may add kettlebells to this movement (and then some). Make note of the fact that with each stretch, i’m using the elbow to “pry” open the hips (bent-knee side) and knee over the foot. Also notice that my heels both stay on the ground. Those with limited hip mobility may find it difficult to “sit back” on the heel of the bent leg (hence another reason why I feel the chest down/hands down version is a better option).