Rugby fan or not, we’ve all seen it… that spectacle of competition, sporty intimidation, and virility known as the haka. The haka is a traditional dance form of the Maori of New Zealand. It’s a posture dance generally performed by a group of men although hakas are also danced by women, children, and mixed groups. Hakas are conducted for many reasons including rallying warriors before a battle, welcoming distinguished guests, honouring notable achievements, and just for fun.
Yoga practitioners who’ve seen the haka might think: “Hey, that’s a High Yogic Squat they’re doing!” and they’d be right. One of the haka’s key stances, featured in the photo above, is very much like the yoga pose known as Malasana or Garland Pose. This posture is also called Horse Pose because it looks like someone sitting in a saddle.
What’s more, the haka’s association with virility is not just a quaint cultural artefact because postures like High Yogic Squat may actually improve a man’s virility by toning the perineum or pelvic floor. In addition to potentially improving sexual function, this posture also opens tight hips (a common complaint amongst male practitioners). High Yogic Squat is also great for strengthening the core and lower body and stimulating the digestive and elimination systems.
To achieve High Yogic Squat, turn sideways on your mat and walk your feet about a metre apart. Turn your toes slightly outward and heels inward. Bend your knees, lowering the hips until they are level with the knees. Widen your stance more if needed and then roll the weight backward to the outer edges of the feet. Tuck the tailbone and keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your toes.
Bring your palms together in prayer position at the heart centre or, if you prefer, raise them above your head or into the cactus position to increase the pose’s cardio benefits. Keep lengthening the crown of the head upward, draw your belly and floating ribs inward, and roll your shoulders back and down. Apply mula bandha (root lock) and hold for 10-20 breaths. To release, bring your hands to the floor and straighten your legs while pressing the hips upward into a forward fold. Hold for 5 breaths and release into Tadasana.
High Yogic Squat is contraindicated for students with recent or chronic injury to the knees, hips, or groin.
A upane! Ka upane!