How to Balance Differing Leg Lengths

One of my students has one leg shorter than the other. When I suggest use of a prop, he ignores me. I give reminders about keeping pelvic bones on an even plane as well. How can I help him? —Jo

Read Marla Apt’s response:

Dear Jo,

The first thing to determine is whether or not your student’s leg bones actually differ in length. The apparent difference in leg lengths may actually be due to an imbalance in the pelvis or spine.

If the latter is the case, working on aligning the pelvis and hips and lower back in all asanas will be beneficial. Look at his back, hips, and pelvis from the front and the back while he is standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to see if you can determine where he requires more elongation, firmness, rotation, and so on. He may need to work in a slightly different manner when doing asanas on the right side than on the left. For example, when performing Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), he may need to work on creating more length and space in his pelvis and lower back on one side while working to create stability and compactness on the other. Standing asanas are a good place to begin addressing structural asymmetries.

If he actually has one leg that is structurally longer than the other, it would be beneficial to use a small support under his other foot in symmetrical standing poses, such as Tadasana and Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). You can demonstrate and explain how the imbalance in the pelvis in those poses affects the spine from the base up to the top of the neck. While you’re observing, ask him to try the prop support to see if it brings more symmetry, and then ask if he can feel the difference. He will have to experience the change for himself in order to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy structural balance and taking care of himself with a prop.