What Is Restricting My Ability To Squat In Yoga Poses Like Malasana?

June 6, 2023

Transcript below of: What is restricting my ability to squat in yoga poses?

Hey everyone! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. If you’ve got a question that you want me to answer on video just like this, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and I’ll do it for you. This month’s question comes from Cheska and it’s about doing a squat in yoga.

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The Question:

I am a yoga teacher and movement director for film and theatre. I am tall, with a very long back, long femurs, and T-rex-short arms. But I’m flexible so that helps. Yes, jump-throughs are impossible—almost. When I sit flat on the floor with a straight back my hands don’t come close to reaching it, but I can handstand. However, I can’t squat in yoga [or do] malasana. My heels are just off the floor. I have spent years trying to get them down. I have super flexible hips. Is there something I can do to reach a yogi squat or is it a lost cause? You are the first yogi who has ever mentioned body proportions regarding ease of poses, etc. It’s really refreshing. Thank you.

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The Answer:

Alright, Cheska. It’s an interesting question. I’m not sure however, that body proportions are going to be the cause of not being able to squat in yoga or do malasana—as important as body proportions are in terms of, you know, what things like backbends look like. If you know how the weight is, you have T-rex arms, long legs, and a long spine, then all of your weight is going to be shifted onto your hands more. Everything is going to kind of shift in that direction. The opposite would also be true of course. With long arms, long torso, and short legs, things would kind of fall down toward the legs.

Achilles tendon

But, in terms of doing a squat in yoga, like just doing a simple malasana, there are basically two possibilities that I would start with. One is, you just have tight Achilles tendons. Now, it sounds like you’ve worked on this for a long time, so they could be genetically tight and short. That could go with long legs in this case. I don’t know. I haven’t seen you. So, it could just be tight Achilles tendons.

Joint shape in the yoga squat

The other thing, which is the next layer, is the joint shape. It is possible, that the way that your ankle is shaped and the tibia comes down—the talus is what it connects to—and the way in which those bones come together, maybe they bump. Maybe they bump when you do dorsiflexion, which is what happens when you squat in yoga.

So, those are the two most likely culprits. Based on what you wrote and how you wrote it—you say that you spent years working on it—it might just come down to bone shape at this point. And that’s it. If it is that, then yes, doing a squat in yoga is sort of a lost cause. And I think this is generally true. This comes up in things like lotus and whatnot; people who spend years doing prep work, trying it, and it never really gets there, looks comfortable, or feels right. It very well may just be the bone shape.

Alright, everyone! That was this month’s question of the month. If you’ve got one that you want me to answer, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and I’ll answer your question as well. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button.