Years ago while in holiday in Egypt, my husband and I took a trip down the Nile in a felucca. The boatman couldn’t have been a day under 70 and yet he was able to steer the boat from a squatting position for over an hour. Most people in developing countries can’t afford the luxury of furniture and as squatting is the most natural way for us to sit, that is how they cook, clean, eat and chat and go to the toilet. In this way their spines and hips stay mobile to a ripe old age. If you watch little children anywhere, they will squat down effortlessly onto the floor to play or pick up something. It is only when they begin to sit on chairs that they gradually lose this natural ability and connection with their bodies.

However, the body loves to squat as it allows the hips to open beautifully and the spine to lengthen upwards. For me it is one of the most important yoga positions. One of my main recommendations to students is to buy a little dustpan and brush and squat down once every day and sweep the kitchen floor clean. You will have great hips, great legs. a strong spine and improved digestion and elimination. And of course, a lovely clean kitchen floor!

Squatting is especially important during pregnancy as it helps open out the pelvic area in preparation for labour. You should have an easier birth if you practice the pose regularly.If you are not used to squatting, however, proceed very carefully, and use a wall for support. (See NEED HELP? below).

To practice Squatting Pose:

  • Stand in Mountain Pose with your arms stretched out in front of you, palms facing each other.
  • Inhale, exhale and pressing into the heels, bend your knees and slowly begin to go down into a squat. Keep your head, neck and spine in line.
  • The idea is to go all the way down with the heels pressed into the floor. But go up onto your toes if you need to. Don’t care about being a WUS! The body has to be eased gently into these things if it has been neglected for a long time. You could place a cushion under your heels if you like.
  • Only squat down as far as you are comfortable with. Listen to your knees, hips and back. If you can get down to the floor, great. Wrap your arms around your knees as if you were hugging yourself. Look at the floor. (In the advanced form of the pose, the arms are brought around the fronts of the calves and clasped behind the back. Hence the name Garland Pose or Malasana. Mala = garland.)
  • Hold the position for up to 6 breaths. Remember to keep breathing.
  • To come out of the pose, stretch your arms out in front again, inhale, and slowly come back up to Mountain Pose.

NEED HELP? 

~ If you find the position challenging, stand against a wall. Make sure the back of the head, the shoulder blades, the buttocks and the heels are all in contact with the wall. With the arms outstretched, inhale, exhale and slide down the wall into the position. Come up onto the toes when you need to. Again use your outstretched arms to support you as you come back up.

~ If your legs are not very strong, place a chair on either side of you for support. You could also hold on to the pole of a brush or broom. Alternatively, place your hands on top of a kitchen counter.

~ If your knees collapse in towards each other, place a yoga block or a hardback book in between them.

STOP! If you have serious knee problems or have had knee surgery ask your doctor’s advice before attempting squats.

Advertisements