This blog is about a natural squatting position and not about some Qigong exercise, strictly defined.
Squatting position is something very natural for children and also for people who have preserved this habit through their lives and it is useful for health in general.
If you have lost the capability to get into this posture you would maybe decide to regain it, at least to some degree, but you should be patient. You can read about the gradual way to get there in this blog.
Squatting is natural
All small children squat instinctively as a continuous movement from standing position whenever they want to lower themselves to ground level. Also the majority of people all over the world (excluding Western civilizations) use a sitting squat position or they sit on the ground in different positions.
The approach how to gradually accomplish this basic squat posture by using a rocking motion that I describe in this blog and video was formed by Dr. Randolf Stone. He was an Osteopath and Naturopath and also a father of Polarity therapy, a healing science, based on living energy currents. (Me and Petar are practitioners of Polarity therapy, among other things.) Dr. Stone travelled a lot and he was familiar with some Eastern philosophies and healing methods. He used squatting position by himself and in his therapeutic work as well. He taught his patients a basic squat position and its variations as an efficient self-help method. The principle of this exercise is that “the energy currents are released by posture-stretch-relaxation”. He often emphasized that when you practice, you have to apply the principle of “effortless effort”.
Is sitting on a chair natural?
In the West the use of chair is considered as a sign of civilization. But if you compare our civilization with the “less” civilized people you find out that they are in their older age still able to make a squat, sit on the floor or pick up objects from the ground. Their ankles, knees, hips, pelvis are regardless of their age pretty flexible. Many western people, even younger, are not enough mobile and elastic to get into a squat.
We have become a civilization where everything is happening while you are sitting on different chairs… at home, in office, in restaurants, in cinema, in cars….
I’m not saying that chair should be avoided in any cost. But it is not a secret that too much sitting on chair in long term causes different structural, physiological and energetic issues in your body.
Maybe people should only ask themselves why they neglect their body so much that they are not able to naturally sit on the ground anymore?! Being in squat is something so wonderful when you are outside on the grass, ground, sand…
Benefits of this exercise
A short but regular squatting practice can bring you many benefits. It helps you to maintain flexible all of your major joints. It helps you activate muscles, fascia and tendons of the rear part of the legs and back. By practicing squatting you may improve your Horse stance in Qigong and Taiji practice, or it can serve you as a preparation for different other Qigong practices (as for example wall-squatting, working on opening the spine, using kua…). As you squat down you bring closer together the most Yang and most Yin poles of your body and the whole energy system starts to balance. You are already doing Polarity therapy, all by yourself.
A regular squatting also improves your digestion, helps you with constipation etc… the list of benefits is much longer.
Before you start
- If you already have issues of any kind with your knees, ankles, hips, flat feet, lower back… or if you are overweight please consult an expert before you decide to try this exercise.
- Before you start make sure that you wear a very loose trousers or shorts. If not they will hinder your motion or in the worst scenario your trousers may tear apart. 😉 If possible be barefooted.
- Make sure also that the place behind you is empty in the case you lose your balance and you roll back.
- Always use only 70 % of your current capability. Respect your own limits, don’t use force, be gentle with your body. Remember “effortless effort”!
When you are able to get into a full squat…
…it goes like this… While you are going down, your buttocks are sinking down. Let your tailbone lead you downward. Use your arms to help you maintain balance. When you get into a squat your armpits rest on the knees. In this squat your feet have to be flat on the ground all the time.
While you are going down pay attention that your knees are not moving forward and cross the line of your toes. You shouldn’t feel tension and pressure in your knees. They serve you only as a kind of hinges.
But getting into a full squat is a gradual process. It seems simple but it may be very tricky and it may take a long time. Your first goal shouldn’t be to getting into a full squat but improving your mobility and flexibility.
Your first goal is only to find out what are your current limits. Stay with feet in a shoulder width apart or narrower. If you feel more comfortable and stable stay with your heels a little bit closer together and with toes wider apart. By gently rocking move downward little by little. (In video I don’t show this up and down rocking motion). Get down only as much as you can comfortably go, without the use of force. It doesn’t matter if this is only a half squat or less.
If it is necessary you can start up with supporting a balance by holding a firm fence, small tree trunk, door-jamb or anything else . Slowly you will improve and this won’t be necessary anymore. Practice this movement for a minute every day until your body structure allows you to get deeper into a squat. And then try to practice without support.
Don’t lift your heels
People are often able to get into a full squat somehow if they lift up their heels. Usually this is because they have shortened the rear part of the body. Don’t stay in the squat with heels lifted up. Put something under your heels. A book, a piece of wood… So your weight will be distributed equally over the soles of the feet and you will stretch also your rear muscles. In time you will need lower and lower pad.
Gentle rocking in a squat
When you can get into a full squat but you feel considerable strain, stay there only few seconds and then stand up. When you feel more comfortable try to stay a little longer. Maybe 10-15 seconds, by using a gentle rocking motion. Very gently rock forward and backward and then from one side to another and around the imaginary vertical line. This rocking motion will enable different muscles groups to alternately switch from the active state to rest and reduce the strain that you might feel.
Gradually extend the time of squatting to at least one minute or two. And then extend your timing, if you feel so.
I often use a squat to rest, while working in the garden (yes, it is a resting position and it’s not a labor 😉 ), when I have to lift something from the ground …
I’m sure that when you have mastered squatting you will use it very often.
May the Qi be with you!
Photo: Pixabay, PetarSmiljana Qigong
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