Practicing yoga off the gram. I'll start with the physical. I've shared this squat with the many names before. I believe it is important to focus on the target areas of the body, we can modify/adjust ourselves accordingly. It is opening the groin, inner thigh, hips, etc. It stretches the lower hamstrings, back, neck, and ankles. It can be a lot of compression for the ankles too (a bone thing!), which may be what prevents a student from dropping low. Pictured here are some "same-same but different" looks with similar targets.
- you can roll a blanket/mat under your heels to relieve ankle compression. Or place it behind your knees for a squeeze.
- sit on a bench or on blocks.
- send your bum way back behind you, bringing your chest forward.
- drop your knees wide, like you would for a toe-stretch.
- or take the tops of your feet down, knees wide, for a chest-lifted child's pose variation.
These all look slightly different (and there's more), when we focus on a target area, we can adjust. It doesn't mean we have to always go for a pictured pose, cue, or what our neighbor is doing in class. You are your best teacher, your body is your best cue. If you have to force it (harm), leave it. It will always give you feedback and a single posture can come with a family of shapes and variations.
It's important for me, as a student and teacher, to dissect these poses. Alignment and anatomy are important, this is a practice of non-harming and designed to be sustainable as we go (grow) through life. We must know when/how to modify. There are many well-intentioned "do this/not this" or "good vs bad" posts on the square, there's so much more to explore than two examples given. Bodies in the real world need more than two examples of demonstration. In person, hands-on instruction, or tutorials with modifications as the rule can make the world of a difference in your practice. Talk to your teachers, take foundational workshops at studios, and/or work privately with someone that has a clear understanding that one pose doesn't fit all. Asana is a moving dialogue, let's keep it moving and long-living.