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August 29, 2022 5 min read

The squat is one of the best lower body exercises for strength and muscle gain, but those gains can be limited if your range of motion suffers. One of the bigger reasons that lifters’ range of motions suffers is a lack of flexibility and mobility.

If you have tight hips, you likely won’t be able to reach a full squat depth, or at least not without some pain or risk of injury.

Stretching can be a great way to help increase flexibility and overall movement, and the yoga squat can directly transfer to better squat depth and more flexible hip joints.

What is the Yoga Squat?

You’ve heard of the back squat and front squat, but the yoga squat may be new to you. 

This yoga pose resembles a conventional squat, except your hips dip lower and use your arms to open up your hips further.

Also known as the Malasana, Garland Pose, or Yogi Squat, this exercise of many names is essentially a deep squat to help open up the lower body for better function.

The goal is to use a complete full range of motion to stretch and strengthen your inner thighs, hip flexors, glutes, and even your ankles.

Yoga squats can be great pre and post-workout because they can help to increase mobility for better lifts and can help stretch your muscles after a workout.

To some, it comes naturally, but to others, it takes practice.

Origin of the Yoga Squat

Although this may seem like a stretch to the average person, cultures like in China and India sit like this naturally. 

The formal name, Malasana, translates to Garland Pose in Sanskrit, and there are a couple different theories as to how this name came to be.

The first theory is that the pose itself slightly resembles garland hanging, while the second theory is that this is the pose that is traditionally taken when receiving a gift from a spiritual teacher.

In Indian culture specifically, a garland is generally associated with gods, where a garland of flowers or beads are used for ritual offerings or altar decorations.

Yogis use the pose as a way to increase flexibility, but yoga is also often associated with peace and spiritually, so it’s no wonder why this type of practice adopted the yoga squat.

How to Do the Yoga Squat

 

Whether you’re naturally flexible or always feeling tight, the yoga squat can be beneficial as long as you do it right.

Here’s How to Do the Yoga Squat:

  • Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Start to drop your hips and bend your knees as if you’re squatting down or sitting down in a chair.
  • For a conventional squat, your hips would stop when they reach 90 degrees, but with the yoga squat, you’ll continue to drop your hips.
  • Drop your hips until your tailbone is between your ankles.
  • Press your elbows against your inner thighs to open up your hips and hold your hands together in a prayer position.
  • Be sure to keep your chest up and shoulders back, so you’re not slouching forward.
  • Hold this squat pose for 30 seconds.

Benefits of the Yoga Squat

Staying mobile and flexible can be extremely important for your life in the gym and for normal daily function. The yoga squat can help enhance flexibility, strength, and may even alleviate pain.

  • Improved Flexibility: Conventional squats have the potential to increase flexibility, so taking that one step further by lowering your hips even more can make you more flexible. 

Being more flexible helps you achieve a greater range of motion, can improve posture, increases mobility, reduces the risk of an injury, and can help with pain and soreness.

  • Stronger Lower Body: Squats are notorious for strengthening the lower body, in particular the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles. 

Lowering in and standing up out of the yoga squat can help strengthen these muscle groups, and it recruits your abdominals to help keep your posture upright. 

Consistently performing the yoga squat can help tone and strengthen the muscles in your legs, hips, and glutes.

  • Decrease Low Back Pain: Tight hip flexors can cause poor posture, limited range of motion, and pain in your lower back. Low back pain is recognized as a public health concern as many adults suffer from it. A couple of the causes can be lack of physical activity and tight hamstrings and hips. 

The yoga squat can help loosen up tight hip flexors and help to decrease your low back pain.

  • More Mobile Ankles: Many lifters often fail to realize how important of a role your ankles can play in lifting, and just walking around. The more mobile your ankles, the better you can walk, run, squat, and jump without limits, pain, or injury. 

Tight calves and ankles can put extra pressure on your achilles tendon, and if it tears can lead to pain and even surgery. 

The yoga squat helps to stretch the ankles and calves, so you can help avoid future injury.

  • Improved Digestion: A strong and flexible lower body can be important, but imagine a better digestive system along with it. Performing a yoga squat consistently can help improve blood flow to the kidneys and the intestines. 

It also stretches the low back and pelvic floor, which helps support the bladder and bowels. 

Improved circulation and more space in your low back can each contribute to better digestion overall.

  • Beneficial for Pregnant Women: Exercise can be extremely beneficial for pregnant women, provided they are cleared by their doctors, and the yoga squat can translate to a smoother labor. 

Since this squat can be great for opening up the hips and the groin area, it can help pregnant women start to prepare for delivery.

  • Beginner Friendly: Trying any type of new fitness can be intimidating for a beginner, but yoga practice could be a great place to start since it increases strength and flexibility in a more low-impact way. Unlike handstands and other more advanced yoga exercises, the yoga squat can be done by anyone and can be modified by decreasing the range of motion until flexibility improves.

How to Incorporate the Yoga Squat

In between lifting, cardio, or whatever your choice of fitness is, yoga classes or independent yoga can be great to implement for recovery purposes. A hip opening exercise like the yoga squat has the potential to increase your performance in other aspects of the gym.

Before a heavy squat day, or before a high volume of walking lunges, your hips, legs, and glutes need to be primed and ready. 

The yoga squat can help prepare your hips for a deeper range of motion and help make your workout better, more efficient, and safer.

After your workout, making time to stretch is extremely important, and the yoga squat can be the perfect stretch to help recover. It can help relax your body while lengthening the hips and the glutes. These two muscle groups are important for lower body performance and stability and can get tight easily if not stretched.

Although the yoga squat can work great before or after exercise, you don’t have to wait to hit the gym to do it. 

If your hips are feeling tight from sitting at a desk all day, or your lower back is in pain from doing yard work, you can do the yoga squat to help loosen your muscles and alleviate your back pain. Since it’s a bodyweight exercise, you can perform the yoga squat anywhere.

Squat a Little Deeper

You may be used to the conventional squat, but incorporating the yoga squat can help improve your lifts, mobility, and even digestion. 

This type of squat can help improve your body, but it can also improve your mind as the Malasana is said to draw your energy downward and has the ability to calm you down.

You can incorporate the yoga squat before, during, or after your workout to help promote strength, flexibility, and recovery.

Need a little more recovery after a tough workout? Check out ADABOLIC to accelerate recovery time.