Squat your way to a stronger back
Yoga Posture of the Week: Malasana or Squat Pose
This posture is one of my favorites, as it is one of the most natural human body positions. Almost as soon as a child learns to walk, they learn to squat like this. Unfortunately, despite how natural this position is for our body, in western cultures we tend to lose the ability to perform this posture because we get used to sitting in chairs…which weaken our backs and tighten our hips.
When I was traveling in Asia, this is a pose that nearly everyone retains the ability to do, thanks to the squat toilets and lack of chairs. It is not uncommon to see men and women working in this position. And no wonder they maintain such health! This position strengthens the back and stabilizes the pelvis, alleviating low back pain. It also opens the hips and massages the abdominal organs–which is great for the digestive and reproductive systems.
- Begin standing with the palms pressing together at the chest. Separate the legs shoulder width apart, with the toes and knees pointing slightly outward.
- Keeping the spine as upright as possible, bend the knees and lower the pelvis as low to the ground as possible. Try to keep your feet flat on the ground–if this is difficult try placing a folded blanket underneath your heels and resting your heels on the blanket.
- Press the elbows out into the knees to further open the hips.
Breath and Awareness
- Hold this posture for 5-10 full breaths.
- As you inhale, imagine drawing the breath down the spine and into the tailbone.
- As you exhale, imagine sending the breath down through your tailbone and into the earth, allowing the breath to purify and ground you.
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