One of the things I love the most about the yoga practice is that it’s truly limitless. There are yoga poses for brand new yoga practitioners, as well as super advanced yogis…as well as everything in between.
What’s even better is that all beginner level poses are just as beneficial for the super advanced people, as they are for the beginners. There’s always benefits to be found even within the seemingly most simple shapes.
Horse Pose is a great example of a yoga pose that’s just as beneficial for newbies as it is for advanced practitioners. Why? Well, because it’s one of the best poses to improve mobility, strength, flexibility, and stability whether you’re on or off of the mat.
That’s why I’m dedicating this to cover all things Horse Pose in yoga. We’ll go over what it is, how to do it, the benefits, and more.
Horse Pose In Yoga
Like all postures in yoga, Horse Pose is one that can be both static and dynamic. This is partly what makes yoga postures unique to other kinds of physical movement. While it looks like you’re just holding yourself in one position, you’re actually still dynamic in the pose by leaning into the breath, and subtle micro-adjustments within.
The reason I love Horse Pose so much is that it’s accessible to all level yogis, which is super helpful when you’re teaching open level, drop in classes.
Plus, considering it’s a squat, it tends to be much more comfortable on the knees, as opposed to a deeper squat like Malasana. Considering knee injuries are all too common, this is important to keep in mind when you’re creating your next class.
But the best thing about Horse Pose is that even if you have the strongest thighs and the most open hips, you’re still going to feel the burn. Every. Single. Time.
Horse Pose Benefits
Horse Pose is like all yoga poses in that it truly is a full body experience. Sure, this pose challenges the lower body more so than the upper body. However, the whole body is always working together!
Which means in order to achieve the opening in the hips, and the strength in the thighs, you need to also activate the core, and be mindful of your spine. The upper body and lower body work together. Always.
Benefits of Horse Pose are obvious in the body, but as all yoga postures teach us, there are also benefits within the mind, heart, and spirit as well.
The first time you try Horse Pose, you’re going to feel it in your legs. There’s no question that this style of a squat is going to strengthen your thighs. And remember, if you’re not feeling it enough, hold it longer and/or bend your knees even more.
Since you’re strengthening your thighs, you’ll also notice your buns start to burn…in a good way! This is a great pose to practice if you want to build strength and tonify the booty.
While there’s a whole lot of strength going on, the flexibility and openness in Horse Pose is also undeniable. In order to sink into the squat, you need to have opening in the hips, which this posture helps to facilitate.
Horse Pose requires you to stand with your feet at least 45 degrees, because the more you turn your toes out, the more your hips will be able to open. Sinking into the squat requires ankle mobility, otherwise you’ll feel a crunchy feeling that prevents you from going any deeper.
Strengthens Pelvic Floor
When you practice Horse Pose, it’s vital that you maintain pelvic floor activation. Think of it like a lift in and up from the lowest part of your belly. The tendency is to lose this activation once you lower into the squat. If this happens, back off with the squat to keep your pelvic floor alive, instead.
Of course if you’re strengthening the pelvic floor, then you’re also activating the core. It helps to start in a standing pose (like Mountain Pose) to maintain your active core with a long spine, and feet at shoulder width distance. Once you know how it feels, then lower into your Horse Pose squat.
In yoga, we love a long spine, don’t we? It’s one of those things that we try to achieve with all postures, and certainly one of the greatest benefits of the practice. Try to keep your spine long and strong even when you lower into a deep squat like Horse Pose.
You might notice your balance improves when you practice Horse Pose due to the increased ankle mobility and strengthening in the legs.
Horse Pose requires a certain level of balance. Of course you can always do it with a wall for more support. Either way, when you challenge your balance, you’re also able to improve your focus. A win-win!
This posture can be intense. One of the greatest benefits of intense poses is that it forces you to lean into your breath in order to stay in the pose with ease.
The Root Chakra is connected to the Earth Element, which encourages grounding. Horse Pose is a perfect yoga pose to practice when you need to encourage grounding Earth energy into your mood.
Squats are meant to be quite sturdy postures, given the strength that these poses are able to cultivate in the body and mind. Practicing strong, grounding postures also offers the opportunity to improve stability, as well.
How To Do Horse Pose In Yoga
Feel free to try on a quick warm up before you jump right into this squat. For fast, 15 minute full body warm up classes my No Time For Yoga bundle is the perfect option for you!
Step 1: Start Standing With A Wide Stance
Face the long edge of your yoga mat standing with feet wide (much wider than your shoulders). Turn your toes out to at least 45 degrees, or wider if that’s accessible for you.
Step 2: Lengthen Your Spine And Activate Your Core
Inhale here to find length in your spine from your tailbone all the way up through the crown of the head. As you exhale, gently draw your low belly up and in. Keep breathing as you maintain length in the spine, and activation in the belly.
Step 3: Sink Into A Squat
Inhale once more with your long spine in a standing position. Now exhale to find Horse Pose by sinking into a squat, keeping your toes pointing out and your upper body long and strong. Keep breathing, focusing on lowering your hips in line with your knees as you continue to close the lower ribs in.
Step 4: Arm Variations
Make sure you’re breathing as you stay in your squat, feeling free to play around with arm variations. I like to keep my hands together in front of my heart, but you can also keep them on your hips, out in front of you, or overhead.
There you have it, my friends. I hope you’re ready to start incorporating Horse Pose into your practice regularly in order to reap all of these incredible benefits.
Let me know which tip helped you the most, and which benefit you notice in the comments below!