Hip to be Square

BY DEBBY SIEGEL, RYT

The intention of YoGoGirls’ #CueTheCues videos is to offer you understanding of what yoga teachers mean when delivering a cue. You are your best teacher and you have your own individual physiology. Yoga poses can be honest conversations with your body rather than performances of superior skills. So honor that bod. And use these #CueTheCues videos as little helpers when you hear a cue and wonder, “What the heck does that mean?”

Today’s cue is “Hips Square to the Mat.”

Let me begin by recognizing that no one has body parts that are square nor symmetrical. So the “square your hips” cue is one that should merely have the intention of seeking an approximation, rather than some photo-perfect rendition. I know for me, in my splits (especially standing splits) my hips open. I’m sure it’s something to do with how my hip joint fits together with the labrum or something. So I do my best, to back out in order to support my body and lengthen my spine, which means my hip is not so open and splits not so deep.

When students are guided into 3 legged dog, is generally the first time I witness this cue given in a vinyasa class. At this point, here’s how you might think of it… those hipbones you can feel with your hands, to have them square means not having one hip higher, lower, in front of, or behind the other. A great way to visualize this is to look at the front of your mat, which is a straight line. Are your hips parallel to the top of your mat? Are they even with each other in height? Then your hips are square!

Here are some other ways it can be said that might offer you some clarification:

  • draw the hip of your front leg back and your other hip forward
  • level out your hips
  • drop your front hip
  • flex the extended leg’s foot and dial its toes down toward the earth (in three legged dog)
  • the sitting bone of the front leg moves forward toward the back knee while the pubic bone of the back leg moves toward the front knee

Asymmetrical poses where hips are squared to the mat below and the front edge of it:

  • three legged dog – Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • low lunge and high or crescent lunge – Anjaneyasana
  • warrior 1 – Virabhadrasana I
  • pyramid pose – Parshvottanasana
  • revolved triangle pose – Parivritta Trikonasana
  • splits or half splits – Hanumasana or Ardha Hanumasana
  • standing splits – Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
  • low twisted lunge or revolved crescent lunge – Parivrtta Anjaneyasana

Asymmetrical poses where hips are open and face the long side of your mat in general:

  • half moon pose – Ardha Chandrasana
  • triangle pose Trikonasana
  • warrior 2 – Virabhadrasa II
  • reverse warrior – Viparita Virabhadrasana
  • extended side angle – Utthita Parsvakonasana

If you have a cue you’d like explained, please email debby@yogogirls.com. If you’d like to be the student in these videos, I’d love to have you join me filming more episodes of this series.


Thank you Blue Sky Yoga for allowing me to film in your beautiful space. Thank you Jamie Austin for modeling revolved crescent lunge. Thank you Michelle Thomas for the photography. And Thank YOU for taking time to learn more about yoga.

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