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The More You Know (#WellnessWednesday) By Nikka P. on Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Have you ever watched as a child or toddler so beautifully, gracefully, and efficiently moves up and down from a squatting position as they play?


Lately, there have been a ton of articles floating around about the importance of a seated squat position.  I am over here thinking “its about time! I have been telling people for years in my yoga classes about the importance of squatting.”  But I am very glad to see so much fascination, science, and awareness around the topic recently.


Since the development of chairs, humans have become increasingly more dependent on, and glued to sitting in chairs.  At the LMU Yoga Therapy program, our teacher says “sitting is the new smoking.”  Sitting is horrible for us, but we can help alleviate the ill effects by getting up to stretch for ten seconds every thirty minutes.  Some articles I read on squatting even related peoples’ life expectancy to their ability to comfortably sit in a squat.


My first yoga teacher told us how people in other countries cook, eat, and clean in a squatting position and that is why in these countries people don’t need hip replacements.  So for the last eleven years, I have been sharing that same line and teaching malasana, or yogis squat, in almost every single class I teach.  The deep squat is vital to our health in that it helps maintain mobility and synovial fluid in our hips, ankles, and knees.  The squat position is also therapeutic for the lower back which is very important for people in America and modernized areas who are in chairs a lot because sitting in chairs is hard on the lower back.  Spending too much time in a chair also compresses the spine, allows the abdominal muscles to grow weak, and the glute muscles to atrophy.


It is really important to not lose muscle tone in the glutes as they are our biggest strongest muscles of the body and once they “turn off” from prolonged sitting they no longer fire correctly when our body needs them and we end up using other smaller weaker muscles and this often leads to injury.  I see a lot of people throw out their backs these days because they spend a lot of time in a chair at a desk and they become very tight in their joints and weak in their core which causes the back to strain more easily.  In addition, sitting in chairs makes it difficult to digest properly.  Before the modern toilet was designed, people would squat multiple times a day to use the restroom.


One of the articles I read about the importance of the squat and why we are losing the ability to squat, said that squatting is now looked upon as undignified whereas it used to be a perfect modality of active rest.  I laughed out loud reading this because I actually experienced this first hand not too long ago.  I was waiting in line at the coffee shop and was feeling very tired so I just squatted down.  As a yogi and dancer, squatting is very comfortable and natural and I use it as active resting pose daily.  The man and woman behind me looked at me with disgust as if it was improper or strange to be squatting.  I stood up when I was ready to move forward in the line and looked at the two to tell them “I am tired,” HAHAHAHA.


I am not asking you to start squatting in public, (unless you want to of course), but if you don’t already have a daily practice of squatting I suggest adding one in! Just a few minutes of your day will make a huge difference in your overall mobility and vitality.  If you can’t jump into a squat today, I recommend setting up blocks or books or pillows under your bottom to support you in your squat and make sure to add a few hip opening stretches beforehand to warm up.  Bring this primal and innate position back into your body’s vocabulary of movement, and trust me, your body will thank you.  May you squat until your last days like our ancestors did!





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Photo via @nikkanadia


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Nikka P.
Nikka is a yoga instructor, yoga therapist, and a dancer. After graduating from UW Milwaukee with a BFA in Dance and a minor in Somatics, the mind-body connection, she packed her car and headed west to Los Angeles where she currently lives and teaches. She has taught yoga for over 11 years and continues to study the art of healing through yoga at LMU. Nikka specializes in teaching yoga to people in recovery, senior citizens, children, as well as children with special needs and on the spectrum. In addition, she loves to teach vinyasa flow, fun creative workouts, family yoga, dance classes, and healing restorative yoga. When Nikka is not teaching she enjoys, modeling, choreographing and going to the beach.

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