The Asian squat
The asian squat is a perfect remedy for weak muscles and rough bowel motions. Read on to find out about it’s advantages.
The perfect asian squat that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong demonstrated at the White House is in fact a healthy posture that everyone should adopt. Within 2 days, the photo received 17000 likes and over 3600 shares. What is so unique about this pose and what are the health benefits? In fact, how can we master it?
The Asian Squat is human evolutionary pose many claimed to be unique to asians. It involves planting both feet firmly on the ground and squatting all the way down with your legs turned out, leaving your bum inches away from the floor. You probably might have the urge to try it out later. For me at least, I have been squatting since young. Whether it is to wait for my friends, take a low angle photo, or to take a dump, the act of squatting seemed so natural to me. It was only when Mr Lee’s photo went viral and the term “the asian squat” surfaced that I realised that it is a stereotype placed on asians.
So is it true that the full uninterrupted squat can only be conquered by asians? Our team set out on a hunt for non-asians to try out this physical challenge!
There you have it. Only 1 out of 5 of our participants are able to complete the challenge. How is this possible? We can attribute this inability to the fact that westerners are more likely to sit on chairs than on the floor or squat throughout their lives. It is just not in their habit. Hence, sitting on chairs for a long time results in a tight and closed pelvic region. People who sit on the floor tend to spread open their legs, leading to a relaxed and open pelvic space. A beautiful and simple scientific explanation to curious world wonder.
Problems with Sitting
In fact, studies have revealed a peculiar diease called the “sitting disease”. What?! That’s right. Sitting too long can cause health issues. When we sit on a elevated surface, our gluteal muscles shut down because no effort is needed. Sitting too long means that they become out of use and deconditioned, which reduces our ability to run, jump and leap. Our abs are not as engaged too which results in lost of strength. Even worse, because sitting puts a lot of pressure on the ischial tuberosity (sitting bones) instead of distributing the weight along the spine, it can cause back pains and puts you at risk of suffering hernia at your lumbar spinal disc.
Advantages of Squatting
Squatting does the opposite. As you squat, your weight is distributed all across your body. Every muscle is engaged and hence they are in better quality when you need to them for more strenous activities.
To control defecation, we have a bend in our rectum called the anorectal angle. When we are standing, it is at a 90 degrees and hence it is difficult for us to poo. Even when we sit in the toilet, the kink does not straighten out. Only when we squat can the bend fully straighten, allowing us to completely flush out toxic waste from our body.
Steps to Squat
If squatting is your worse enemy, these three yoga poses will turn it into your rest best friend.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) will help you open up your groin
- Sit with the soles of your feet touching and shift them close to your groin. If you feel discomfort, move your feet further out. For beginners, it is possible to start by sitting on a folded blanket to give you a slightly elevated platform.
- Put your hands behind your thighs and press your fingers to the ground.
- Lift your hips about an inch off the floor and allow your knees and thigh to fall open like a butterfly.
- Lengthen your spine by pulling your body upwards through the crown of your head.
Pull your shoulders down and lengthen your collarbones.
Agnistambhasana (Double Pigeon pose) will aid you in external hip rotation
- Sit on a level ground and let your legs straighten out.
- Slowly bend your right knee inwards and make sure that your knee and shin are parallel to your pelvis. Next, bend your left knee and place it your right knee and shin on top of the left. Your legs will stack up and form a triangle.
- If your top knee is too high, do not worry. Your hips are just tight and practicing this yoga pose will help!
- Stay in the Agnistambhasana for 5 – 15 deep breaths before and uncurling and repeating the steps with the opposite leg stacked on top.
- You can intensify this yoga pose by stretching your hands forward and walking them away from your body, pulling your chest closer to your legs.
Malasana lengthens your achilles and calves
- Start by standing upright with your feet shoulder width apart and feet planted firmly into the ground. Next, squat down but keep in mind that your heel should not lift off the ground. For beginners, you can begin by placing a folded towel at the back of your heel to give a slightly elevated edge.
- Slowly, turn your thighs outwards such that it is slightly wider than your shoulder width.
- As you exhale, lean forward so that your upper body fits in between your thighs.
- Place your palms together and widen your inner thighs by pushing your elbows against them from inwards out.
- Hold for a few deep breaths.
- Inhale and slowly lift yourself back up to a standing posture.
Instead of calling it the asian squat, let us embrace this healthy posture. Chairs away because squats are here to stay!
The Science and History of the Asian Squat