Do Your Body Proportions Affect Your Yoga Practice?

You might wonder if your body proportions are sabotaging your efforts to do certain yoga poses or if all yoga poses are equally accessible. Have you been working on a yoga jump back for years and it just isn’t happening? Well master yoga teacher and scholar, Paul Grilley explains in his DVD Anatomy for Yoga that ones body proportions can limit or support your ability to perform different yoga poses. 

Everyone has different proportions of limbs and body parts. You might have a long torso, short torso, short arms, long arms, short neck et. Paul Grilley explains that bone compression is one way that proportions will affect you. Bone compression is determined in an individual by the shape of the bones. Two adjacent bones can only move so much until they are blocked and begin to feel compressed against each other. Another way body proportion affects your practice is by bone length. 

For example:

Arm bone length and seated posture to chaturanga pose.

Here, your arm bone length will determine if you are able to do this movement. If you sit on your knees and flex your hands but your hands are far away from the floor, you will use all your flexion and strength curling the spine so that the hands can press on the floor that you will not be able to press back. 

Modification: Use yoga blocks on the long thin side to give you that extra length to press through the hands and lift the hips off the floor.

Neck length/ upper arm bone length and headstand pose

If your head can only look back slightly or when you raise your arm and bend at the elbow and your elbow does reach past the head, you will have a harder time avoiding a neck pinch or injury. However, there are other factors that will affect you as if you have a strong neck and shoulder area, then you might be able to withstand the pressure of weight on the head.

Femur (thigh) bone placement in socket and forward bend pose 

Depending on where your thigh bone fits into the hip sockets, you will be able to tilt the pelvis back more and achieve a deeper hip forward bend.

Femur bone and Splits pose 

The femur bone will also determine how much you can internally rotate the back leg in splits pose. The compression around that hip area will also allow some people to move the back leg further back and up. Some people will easily be able to bend the back leg and others will feel more compression in the joint when trying to bend the leg.

Lumber pine versus shoulder and heel pose

If when you raise your arms up and back you feel compression in your shoulder then your wheel pose should look more horizontal than someone can bend arms way back behind with no compression.

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