(programming note: I’m trying to do more, shorter blogging. My goal is three posts a week, one movement specific, one on living your yoga, and one longer post. Read, share, enjoy!)
A friend of mine is an ethnomusicologist, and annually leads groups of undergrads to Asia to study. In prepping them, one of the funnier things she has to talk about is using squat toilets, the standard for many parts of the planet. (I’ll spare you the videos, but they’re pretty funny) She discovered what I learned early on as a yoga teacher: us Americans generally have trouble squatting. And we’re much the worse for it.
Humans were built to squat- watch little kids, they squat constantly. For us bigger folk, squats build strength for the whole leg and range of motion for the whole hip, down into the deepest hip muscles. A deep squat lengthens the low back, which is a huge step towards mitigating back pain. And squats also encourage healthy function of the digestive and elimination systems. We were built to move this way, and our body likes it when we do on so many levels.
To take your squats deeper, try the first half of this video, which sets up bakasana (crow pose). Even if you never go to crow, you’ll be amazed how great it can feel to rediscover your squat.