msinkblot

Body proportions in yoga

12 posts in this topic

Hello all,

I'm wondering what your experiences are with body proportions and specific poses. Personally, I have super long legs and arms and a relatively long torso and I find it impossible to kick up into handstand without bending my back a bit too much (same with forearm stand sometimes too). Kicking up from downdog and getting my legs over my hips is easy but getting them to remain there without falling out is practically impossible. Navasana is also much harder because I have to lift my legs and shoot more energy into them. I can arm balance pretty easily though, and I find in general I can touch the floor completely and lie on my legs in forward bends, etc. What I'm curious about is how your specific proportions helped you in some poses and not in others. :)

 

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How tall are you? Cause if you have long limbs and long torso, isn't that just being tall?

Hehe, I say this because I'm petite and have been told I have a long torso, so my legs and arms are stubby in comparison!

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I'm not that tall (5"3), although I am Asian, so I look taller than I am because of my proportion. So I'm both elongated and petite compared to your average white person... But I'm also small-boned. (My wrist are the same circumference as a 6 year-old... literally) if that makes sense? 

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I have relatively short arms and I believe that impacts my practice. I'm not sure if that's the reason why crow pose, for example, is a perpetual challenge. Flying pigeon doesn't seem to be an option and I wonder if that's one of the reasons why kapotasa isn't happening just yet.

Of course, my upper body strength is not what I'd like it to be, but you could argue that possibly my short arms make a lot of the upper body strength poses more difficult or awkward. I'm mostly okay with twists and backbends as my flexibility helps me move my body deeper into the poses without relying on my arms to make the poses easier. 

I also find I have to adapt many standing poses as I my hips and thighs are somewhat wide. There's no way that standing with my feet together is a viable option.

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I'm pretty short - barely 5'1'' and have tinnnnny wrists too, and what I feel are kind of short arms (I can't put my palms down in staff pose). But I used to think the arms were too short for poses like crow and then I realized I just had some major room for strength building in my core. Once I built that up, I was able to do crow pose. 

 

What you're describing - the arch in the back, to me just sounds like what could possibly be room for growth in upper body strength. When I look back at my handstands and forearms stands when I first started practicing them, I always had this angle in my back I just couldn't seem to get rid of. Over the past few months, as I've worked on my upper body strength, I have noticed that angle disappear. 

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I'm just not sure if body proportions are a good explanation for those challenges. What Candace says makes a lot of sense, and I always attributed any struggle with lacking muscle strength.

I also previously thought a narrow frame would make it harder to build upper body strength (shoulders are not broad), but luckily @msinkblot has proved me wrong, doing arm balances and inversions! I was thinking - if you are kicking up with a lot of force instead of floating up with one foot first or piking, you might need more core strength, which will help your navasana.

Regardless, I am curious about how one determines if their arms, legs, and torso are within proportion. If anything, this helps me understand why certain clothes fit better on me than others. :D

12 hours ago, msinkblot said:

I'm not that tall (5"3), although I am Asian, so I look taller than I am because of my proportion. So I'm both elongated and petite compared to your average white person... But I'm also small-boned. (My wrist are the same circumference as a 6 year-old... literally) if that makes sense? 

I know that the wingspan between your fingertips when making a "T" is the same length as your height.  I thought a more narrow shoulder frame (small boned) would mean the arms would be longer, but not necessarily the legs being longer.

Do you mind sharing your measurements? I'm also Asian, 5'3", small boned, but I never considered my limbs to be disproportionately long.  Are they supposed to be the same length? Mine below in inches (note, I am guessing on how to properly measure - I will re-measure if someone lets me know what proper guidelines):

  • Arm: from armpit to fingertip 26" (corrected)
  • Torso: from crotch to collarbone 23"
  • Leg: from bottom of foot to crotch 29" (if I buy short size or petite pants, 28" inseam, I do not need to hem. Regular is usually 30" inseam)

 

Edited by yogafire
Arm measurement correction
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I think Candace pinpointed it too. I don't have a lot of upper body strength although I've been working on my core strength and I do feel the effects in arm balances and inversions. Is there any specific poses to build upper body strength through yoga? My instinct is to work on my core but my arms still feel quite weak (I can't really do pull-ups. Rock climbing is hard even though I love it). @YogaByCandace Your story is truly inspiring! Maybe one day I will be somewhere close as strong as you... hopefully, hahaha.

@yogafire Very very interesting! I have to admit I think I feel like I work harder than others to be able to build that strength. Although no matter how much stronger I feel, I more or less still look the same with skinny thin arms, haha! I feel the difference though. That's what's important for me because I can feel my inversions getting lighter as I build strength. Even if it's 'invisible'. Anyway, here are my measurements! This was a very interesting exercise, haha. 

  • Arm: 27" (my hands alone are 7 inches. I have huge hands! For fun, I measured my wrists and they're 5.3inches width)
  • Torso: 24"
  • Leg: 31" 

As you can see, my legs/arms are rather long >_>. It is hard to find clothing that fit here too. I wear mostly tights nowadays, but in my memory, the only jeans that fit well are those from Uniqlo when I was in Japan. Usually the thigh space are too baggy. 

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For my height my arms are relatively short. At my level of practice the only thing I've noticed this causing any issues is doing something like from downward dog stepping one foot to the front with my hands on the floor. My knee tends to not fit between my chest and the floor that well. 

@yogafire I think most men have an arm span longer than their height. Mine is the same as my height and my reach upward isn't that great. This is an unscientific survey though, lol. 

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@msinkblot thanks for sharing! Glad it's also interesting to you... :) I think some people just bulk up more than others, but that's great you feel the difference, and it definitely shows in your practice. 

OK, I guess the only way we can be the same height then is made up in the difference in our neck and head. I've been told I have a long neck, so, I guess the measurement differences make sense now. And your torso and legs are not the only thing that makes up your height! I also think my arm measurement should be 26" (edited my previous post). It was hard for me to keep the tape measure straight by myself, but my hands alone are 6", and I know it was 20" up to my wrist.  And I am 5" wrist. I guess now I know why they make long lengths in small waist sizes, for people like you! Does Uniqlo ship to Canada? They have more US stores open now, so hopefully a local one will open in Montreal.

@scottcraft Good to know, that was a real rough rule of thumb. So do you think a "proportional man" has his arm span longer than his height? You'll have to give us your measurements so you can find a same height counterpart on the forum to compare! ;) Anecdotal surveys are fun and still have value on their own!

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@yogafire Interesting! I never compared my measurements or measured myself in that way. It's very interesting to get an idea of how different we all are. I wish that Uniqlo shipped to Canada. I bought my partner some basics, jeans and winter jackets from Uniqlo in Japan as well and they've lasted him quite awhile. I also wish we had Muji here! That would really make me jump for joy... if only! The last time I went to Uniqlo was in New York.

@YogaByCandace That's why I hate holding warrior 2 for more than one minute! Hahaha... Push-ups are fine because I use my core to press up- I've been doing more of them and my shoulders are feeling it. I will try to add more handstand holds because I feel least stable there. Thanks for the recommendations :D I may also try to do more rock climbing. I sort of fell out of it and I still have a few entries to the climbing gym 3 minutes from my house :P Rock climbing is one sport that reminds me of my inability to "pull up" since I'm used to the action of pushing away in yoga.

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13 hours ago, yogafire said:

@msinkblot thanks for sharing! Glad it's also interesting to you... :) I think some people just bulk up more than others, but that's great you feel the difference, and it definitely shows in your practice. 

OK, I guess the only way we can be the same height then is made up in the difference in our neck and head. I've been told I have a long neck, so, I guess the measurement differences make sense now. And your torso and legs are not the only thing that makes up your height! I also think my arm measurement should be 26" (edited my previous post). It was hard for me to keep the tape measure straight by myself, but my hands alone are 6", and I know it was 20" up to my wrist.  And I am 5" wrist. I guess now I know why they make long lengths in small waist sizes, for people like you! Does Uniqlo ship to Canada? They have more US stores open now, so hopefully a local one will open in Montreal.

@scottcraft Good to know, that was a real rough rule of thumb. So do you think a "proportional man" has his arm span longer than his height? You'll have to give us your measurements so you can find a same height counterpart on the forum to compare! ;) Anecdotal surveys are fun and still have value on their own!

I'm 6' tall and I measured my span fingertip to fingertip once and I believe it was pretty much 6'. I don't think that's necessarily 100% accurate since I did it myself. Like I said I'm thinking my arms are short mainly due to reaching upwards. I know things like neck length can affect that, like if two people are the same height and arm length but once has a longer neck the other person will be able to reach further upwards.

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