A deep opening of the hips through strong external rotation
Decompresses the lower back when folding forward.
Watch the pressure on the knees; if the hips are too tight, the pressure will go there.
Can aggravate sciatica. If you have sciatica, elevate the hips by sitting on a cushion, until the knees are below the hips, or avoid this pose entirely. Beware of hips rotating backward while seated; we want them to rotate forward.
If you have any lower back disorders which do not allow flexion of the spine, then do not allow the spine to round: keep the back as straight as you can
Getting Into the Pose:
This can be a tricky one to get into. The key is to go where you feel some juiciness in the outer hips, never in the knees. Start by sitting with legs crossed. Move your feet forward until your shins are parallel to the front edge of your mat (your legs are "square" to it).
Try to move your knees closer together without allowing your feet to come back closer to you.
Alternatives & Options:
Folding forward stretches the lower back and can intensify the stress in the hips. If you can't come forward, sit on a cushion.
A deeper option is to place one ankle over the opposite knee and the other ankle under its opposite knee. If the first knee is very high in the air, you are not ready for this variation! Bring that foot to the floor in front of its opposite knee.
If you're more flexible, try to slide the knees closer together, allowing the feet go further apart.
If you're tight or experience discomfort in the knees, or if the knees are high off the floor, you can place blankets or some form of support under the knees.
Other alternatives include Eye-of-the-Needle Pose, Shoelace, or Swan.
Coming Out of the Pose:
Lean back and slowly straighten the legs out in front of you.
Bounce out the legs and tighten/release the knees a few times.
This was a fairly deep external rotation of the hips, so we want to move the hips in the opposite direction. Some nice internal rotations of the hips are Deer or Windshield Wipers.
If you're craving a backbend, perform Tabletop or lie down and do some Spinal Lifts.
Meridians & Organs Affected:
Liver and Kidneys, because these lines come through the inner groin; Gall Bladder line on outer leg; Urinary
Bladder line if folding forward.
Hips and spine.
Recommended Hold Time
Three to five minutes per side.
Similar Yang Asanas:
Double Pigeon (sometimes called Boxcar, 90-90, or Fire Logs)
If you're a beginner, you may tend to bring your feet close to the groin. Make sure this isn't simply a cross-legged sitting posture; we want to feel this in the hips.
However, if you already feel this is stressing the hips a lot, simply by sitting cross-legged, then that is your version of Square pose! Be there and enjoy.