Let’s Squat

How often do you hear that? Many of my retreat students have expressed gratitude for awakening them to the benefits of a simple squat. It’s not fancy. It’s not even pretty. But its benefits go on and on. So, let’s celebrate the squat. And I guess I should feel honored that a squat reminds my students of me.

Years ago at my yoga studio, I used to tell my beginners to do this pose while they watched tv, 5 minutes a day for a week straight. But you don’t have to be a beginner to get results from this. The more you squat, the more you release tension in the low back and hips. Sitting in chairs makes this pose challenging, especially for those who do nothing besides sit with a little walking around in between. Think about it: most of the non-Western world hangs out in a squat. And I’m pretty sure they have less trouble with their backs and hips as a result. The squat is a great antidote to our sedentary society. Find ways you can incorporate a squat into your day. Trust me, the tv thing really works.

The How-to:

Stand with your feet wide apart, toes turned out slightly. Keeping your spine straight, lower your hips down as far as they will go. You may have to take your hands to the floor to help you balance, but take the weight towards the heels as much as possible.

Adjust your feet width and toe turnout as necessary, but don’t allow either to turn out farther than 45 degrees. Your knees should line up over your toes. If your heels don’t touch the ground, roll up a yoga mat, towel or blanket to put under them; release them completely so you aren’t taking weight towards the balls of your feet. Make sure any heel support isn’t too high, and work towards lowering it as your calf muscles open more.

With your hands at heart center, use your elbows to gently press your knees open. Lift your chest into your thumbs to lengthen your spine. Stay here and breathe. Work up to 3-5 minutes. Every day.

Happy squatting! Namaste.