Squat. What a weird word. Seems like adding "Yogic" in front of it makes it more appealing. It may not sound (or look) that appealing, but the benefits certainly are. In fact, I just saw it featured in the October Health magazine (for the record, this was after it was already on my 1 pose wonder list, lest you think I copy). It's one of the first things I do every morning. Well, actually, the first thing I have to do every morning is feed our 3 dogs, but while they are eating I squat. Now there's an appealing image for you.
For years I've been telling my beginner yoga students to do this pose while they watch tv; the longer you can be here, the more you will release tension in the low back and hips. Sitting in chairs makes this pose challenging, especially for those who do nothing besides sit in chairs 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 for the effects of our sedentary society. Find ways you can incorporate hanging out in a squat into your day. Trust me, the tv thing really works.
- Stand with your feet wide apart, toes turned out slightly, hands in prayer position at your heart center.
- 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 you need to take the weight in to the heels as much as possible.
- Adjust your feet width and toe turnout as necessary, but don't allow them 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; you need to be able to 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 you need to 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.