Squat

Benefits:
  • Opens the hips and strengthens the ankles
  • Releases the lower back
  • Can be a great pose to prepare the body for childbirth
  • Offers relief to women suffering severe lower back pain due to their menstrual cycle [1]

Contra-indications:
  • If hips are too tight, this can torque the knees.
  • If you have knee trauma, avoid this pose.

Getting Into the Pose:
  • Start by standing with the feet hip-width apart. Squat down and bring your arms in front of you, hands in prayer and elbows pulling lightly against the knees or shins.

Alternatives & Options:
  • If your heels are off the floor, use a folded blanket or bolster under them. We want the body to relax. Another option if the heels are off the floor is to widen the distance between the feet.
  • Watch where the knees are pointing compared to where the feet are pointing. They should point in the same direction. If they are not, spread the feet wider or rest the heels on a folded blanket or on a bolster.
  • When the feet are wide apart (hip width or more), this pose works into the hips more deeply.
  • When the feet are close together (perhaps even touching), this pose works the ankles more deeply.
  • A deep variation is to keep the feet together but with the knees wide apart. Lean forward, wrapping your arms around the shins and then behind the back, clasping the hands together.
  • Another option is to place your hands behind your head and gently draw the chin to the chest: this adds a stretch to the back of the neck.

Coming Out of the Pose:
  • An easy exit is to just sit down and then slowly straighten the legs out in front of you.
  • A more challenging exit is to come to Dangling by straightening the legs and folding forward. As you straighten the legs, align the feet so that they are pointing in the same direction as your knees.

Counter poses:
  • Dangling, as just described, helps to release the knees and back
  • Ankle stretch or Vajrasana. [2]

Meridians & Organs Affected:
  • The Liver and Kidney lines as they run through the groin and the Urinary Bladder lines on the back.
  • If you feel this through your ankles you may also be stimulating the Stomach, Spleen, Gall Bladder, and Urinary Bladder meridians.

Joints Affected:
  • Hips, knees and ankles.

Recommended Hold Times
  • Two to three minutes at one time; however, you can revisit this pose a couple of times during the practice

Similar Yang Asanas:
  • Malasana

Other Notes:
  • Approximately two-thirds of the world's population goes to the bathroom every day this way! If uncomfortable, it may be a sign that you need to do this more.
  • A nice sequence is to go from Dangling to Squat, back to Dangling, back to Squat, over and over again, holding each position for one to two minutes.
  • Elbows in front of knees can be used as levers to pull the chest forward, allowing the tailbone to drop lower.



1 -- Iyengar, Light on Yoga.
2 -- In Vajrasana, keep the knees together and sit on the heels.


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