TEACHING CUES: Standing Twists & Squats- Creating Stability to Enable Deeper More Aligned Squats
The squat in these photos may look like it’s done with a very arched back, but this is not the reality. Perhaps surprisingly, the secret to a good squat and a balanced twist done in alignment is foot placement and ankle stability.
How do squats relate to twists? Well whether we like it or not, squats are the foundation for many elements of movement, especially deeper squats, because they build up the glutes and the glutes are fundamental in creating a stabilising spot for the pelvis before we start rotating the trunk.
Why is it important to find this stabilising spot for the pelvis? Because if the pelvis is unstable it will turn as the trunk starts turning and this usually causes the ribs to pop out at the side of the trunk due to lack of support.
What are the consequences of this instability? As a result of this instability, of the flaring of the ribs we start compensating for this misalignment and this can cause complications like spinal stenosis (amongst other things). If this is done over a long time or if it is constantly repeated then over time misalignments can lead to impingements and restricted movements.
TEACHING CUE. Hinging at the ankles allows you to find your Semitendinosus, Gemellus, and Obturatus which are deep muscles situated around the sitting bone area. So by grounding through the feet, we create ankle stability which facilitates hinging at the ankles and this in turn will help you find and engage these muscles to keep your tailbone really rooted. So your Teaching Cues would be:
Ground the feet and hinge at the ankles
Root through the inner heel and expand the outer heel
Once you have the ankle stability these muscles engage naturally as the lines of the back legs are free. The back of the legs, foot stability, and ankle stability support a natural internal hugging and an internal rooting of the tailbone rather than having to think about tucking the tailbone, compressing the tailbone or using the lower belly to tuck the tailbone.
1. It is important that the feet face the same direction as the pelvis otherwise the pelvis will become unstable and the sacrum is likely to torque. The pelvis needs to be kept as stable as possible and with minimum movement but we do not want to lock the sacrum because whilst it is good to keep minimal movement it is important to allow some movement if there is a tightness around the area.
2. Check that the ribs are not flaring out, as in the pictures here. This is avoided by grounding the feet, engaging the muscles and thus stabilising the pelvis and lengthening the spine and the tailbone gently as a result.
Flared ribs Ribs in alignment
3. When moving into a squat the knees are beyond the toes and also facing in the same direction as the feet so as not to create any strain on the knees.
Not every person will have these free lines and be able to find the ankle stability to enable a deep squat, but this is something that can be developed with gentle practice. Essentially we aim to teach our students to retrain their bodies to create, find and engender this stability which makes more integrated and natural movement possible and so in the long run this deepens and modifies their practice.
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This is just one of the in-depth and specialised approaches to teaching yoga that you could learn if you join us for our super upcoming British Wheel of Yoga Teacher Training course starting in October or for our Yoga Alliance Teacher Training starting in February 2020. For more information about the courses we offer have a look at the ‘Training’ tab here on the Teach Yoga website, contact us via the Contact Form or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.