Our ancestors rested in the squat
Throughout much of human history the squat was Humans natural resting position. Tribesmen comfortably rested in the squat position when cooking, eating, socializing, and of course “laying down wolf bait”.
So what happened? If you ask one hundred people from modern society to rest in the squat position it is likely most of them will find it extremely uncomfortable, that is if they don’t immediately fall on their ass. Only a very small portion, best guess 1-10 will be able to comfortably manage this feat.
Across the rest of the world this is not the case. Many people from certain parts of Asia still utilise the squat as a resting position. Children also use this position, particularly when picking things up. I have even observed a number of severely disabled adults resting in the squat position. This confused me at first as they had never been taught.
It just goes to show the position must be somewhat instinctual and modern society has simply trained our inability to rest in the squat. As part of Rewilding Humans is about Rewilding our bodies Survival and Serenity has found some of the benefits to resting in the squat position.
Benefits of the Squat as a resting position
There are many benefits to resting in the squat position. For starters it greatly increases your mobility and flexibility. It also strengthens a number of muscles as well as the joints.
Although it is a low energy output position, the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, ankle flexors, abdominals, and lower back are all activated. Not only does it strengthen and lengthen all those muscles, but it also opens the hips, and stretches the groin muscles.
In Yoga practice, the “yoga squat” or “Malasana” is believed to calm the mind and relax the body. It is also believed to improve digestion, which actually makes sense as traditionally this was the position humans adopted while defecating.
It is also a fundamental position that will compliment many other exercises which optimise functionality and Rewild the Human Body.
Why can’t modern humans comfortably rest in the squat position?
The human body was not intended to remain inactive for prolonged periods of time. Modern society has embraced comfort to such a degree that many of our sedentary activities (or lifestyles) render the major muscles groups inactive or force the muscles and skeletal system into unnatural alignments.
Sitting is the biggest culprits for this. We sit when eat, work (some of us), and when we use the bathroom. This causes the human body to lose flexibility, and instead promotes tension and poor alignment.
In short modern society has trained our inability to utilise this position. When was the last time you saw someone resting in the squat position while waiting for the bus? Never???
How to get into the squat position?
Start with your feet flat on the ground around shoulder width apart, and slightly angle your feet outwards. Sit down into this position, your butt should rest on your calves. This position will slightly vary depending upon the individual.
At first it is likely this position will be a little uncomfortable. The stabilising muscles in your ankles and your shins that are needed to balance comfortably in the squat position are likely underdeveloped.
If you are not able to adopt the position described above try moving the feet more than shoulder width apart until you find a position that you feel comfortable to sit down in. Pointing the toes further outwards will also help.
If you have really tight ankles try putting a book under your heels so you can rest in the position. As you progress, remove the book and gradually try to narrow your stance until it is shoulder width apart.
Gradually progress to resting comfortably in the squat position
When I first attempted resting in the squat position the muscles in my shins would ache and I would constantly feel like I was losing balance. With a little practice this position started to feel really natural and now I can comfortable rest in the squat position for around thirty minutes or more.
Gradual progression is the way to go. I began taking ten slow breathes in the squat position when I first woke up and ten before I went to bed. Pretty soon I upped this to twenty breaths.
I then started to rest in the squat position when I was doing other casual activities such as reading. If you live with other people you may get some strange looks, but it is important to keep practicing this position daily to really reap the benefits.
This practice has definitely helped me. My hips, ankles, and legs have become more flexible and my core is stronger in static positions.
Whether you are an office worker or an Athlete the squat position will help with flexibility, strength, and stability. Rewild Your Body and incorporate the squat as a resting position into your daily life…….