Pose Breakdown: Toe Squat

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Nancy Nelson

Hello yin friends!

I hope you are having a beautiful week so far. I wanted to share one of my favorite (and FIERY!) yin postures with you today. Toe Squat is a pretty simple pose as far as mechanics go, but boy is it intense. The reason for the intensity? These little joints in the body are easy ones to neglect. We tend to focus more on the larger parts of our lower halves because they tend to be the cranky ones. Your knees ache and your hips are tight – crying out for attention! But it’s important that we pay attention to the ten little toes that so greatly help us balance and walk. Practice this stretch consistently and over time you will find greater mobility and more ease when your trying to balance in that pesky Warrior 3 pose.


Start in table top. Begin to tuck all 10 toes under and then gently walk your hands back toward the knees. If you can comfortably sit all the way up, you can simply rest the hands in the lap. After you’ve landed in a good place within the pose, be sure to tuck those pesky pinkies back under as they tend to attempt an escape.

Yin Yoga - Toe Squat


  • DON’T RUN AWAY! – The point of the posture is to find resistance and breathe through it. When the intensity starts to build, breathe through the chaos. Find something calming and encouraging to focus on and practice incorporating this intention into the breath.
    • Do your best to relax the areas that do not need to be tense here. When this pose starts to really hit, I notice my face starts to tighten (specifically my jaw) as well as my shoulders tense up. Remind yourself to relax areas such as this in your own body. Focus on where the sensation resides and mentally send the breath into that space.
    • Try to keep the heels pointed straight up rather than letting the ankles turn from one side to the other. That could tweak this sensitive joint and cause pain nearby joints (knees/toes).

Yin Yoga - Toe squat




  1. Cushion yourself | If you have sensitive knees, you can always bring a blanket under them for support. You can also use a blanket under the hips if it helps to alleviate any discomfort with sitting all the way back to the heels.
  2. Add-on stretches | Once settled into this pose, feel free to take some kind of variation with the neck/shoulders. I like to do the stretches shown below.
  3. Walk the knees forward for more | If you want to add some additional intensity to this posture, feel free to create more of an angle in the top of the feet so that the bend in the toes becomes deeper. You’ll need to do a double check of the pinky toes if you add this adjustment in.
Angle in feet
Angle in feet


  • Deeply releases tension around the toes


  • Stimulates lower body  meridians which all originate in the toes.
  • Applies pressure to reflexology points on the toes and to the base of the ball of the foot (see chart below)
Image: Footy Rooty









USE CAUTION: Contraindications for this posture include…

  • Knee/Ankle Issues. There should be no sharp, shooting pains here in this posture. Be mindful if you have a current or past injury in either of these areas and find a way to support yourself with props as needed.
  • Lack of toe mobility . If you have had any kind of surgery in the toes please consult your doctor if this posture is safe for you. If you have any kind of metal object implanted in the toes, it is probably best leave this posture out on that foot or altogether.

HOLD: 1-3 minutes. Come off of the heels very slowly.


Pat the toes on the floor behind you. Come back to table top and pat the toes gently on the mat behind you to release the front of the foot. You can also spread the toes out and wiggle them around if that helps.


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Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson
Nancy is the fearless leader here at Nancy Nelson Yoga! She has been instructing yoga since 2012 and is certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) with Yoga Alliance. She loves guiding yoga classes in all forms – from sweaty vinyasa flows, to slow mindful movement - but her favorite style to practice and teach is yin yoga. She attended a formal 50-hour Yin Yoga training with Bernie Clark and Diana Batts in the fall of 2018 and it truly propelled her into developing her yin focused website, webinars and trainings.

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