Do you find yourself uncomfortable in the bottom of a squat? Unable to keep your heels down at the bottom, or get low? This yoga pose is for you!
Our featured pose of the week is a deep yoga squat (Malasana). You may be thinking, how can a squat be part of my stretching routine when I do squats for strength? Well, holding the bottom position of a squat is mobility work in itself!
Your position in the deep yoga squat may differ slightly from your regular squat stance at the gym. For this squat, you can relax into the bottom a bit more, rather than stay completely active through the core and legs. Also, the knees may be wider than in your gym squat, since we are working to stretch the groin and hips. Since you likely won’t have shoes on, you are also working your ankle dorsiflexion much more than you would when squatting in your workout.
Overall, there are so many benefits to the deep yoga squat. Stretching the ankles, hips and groin are some of the key targeted areas. Also, strengthening the back as it stays upright in this somewhat uncomfortable position, which can actually help with low back pain.
- Find a stance with your feet just wider than your hips, toes facing slightly out.
- Next, bend your knees and sit your hips down, as far as you can.
- If your heels come off the ground as you squat, you can sit on a block, or pillow to keep the heels rooted down.
- Keep your back as straight as possible without rounding forward.
- Bring the palms together at your chest and use your elbows to gently press your knees away, intensifying the stretch.
- Breathe deeply and hold this pose for about 1-3 minutes.
- To come out of this pose, activate the legs and slowly stand all the way back up.
- You can place your hands on the ground or a block/wall/table in front of you for more support.
- If your heels really want to come off the ground, you can roll up a yoga mat or blanket to place underneath them, eventually working to lower the hips and keep the heels down as long as possible.
- Play around with your stance. Find what is most comfortable to you, and where you feel the most stretch.
- If you feel pain, pull back and raise the hips.
Give this pose a try, it has lots of carryover to strength work and proper form in the gym!