This is the second post in our multi-part series on floor sitting. For Part 1 on floor sitting, click here.
Why squat? Squatting isn’t something we do much in industrialized societies beyond childhood, but if you can do it healthfully, it is an eminently practical posture for resting the body while keeping the backside elevated off the ground and the clothing clean, as this woman from Orissa demonstrates.
This woman from Orissa demonstrates a healthy, full squat with foot arches intact and a long, straight spine.
It is also the posture used for toilet activities in places with floor toilets, a trend which has recently made its way to the industrialized realm in the form of popular footstools such as the Squatty Potty. If you have ever gone camping in a place without Port-A-Potties, you have had good occasion to squat!
Using a simple footstool to sit on a toilet, supported with a straight back.
And women worldwide, especially in less-industrialized societies, have long used squatting during childbirth. Talk about ancestral posture.
Like mother, like child.
Women squatting in a tribal market in Orissa to sell vegetables. This is a very comfortable, sustainable posture they have grown up with.
Most people’s hip, knee, and ankle joints do not bend enough to allow the back to remain straight and the arches in the feet to remain intact.
People in modern societies usually don’t have the hip/knee/ankle structure to do a full squat without rounding the back and compromising the feet.
Raise the heels or resort to a partial squat or B squat (one heel raised, the other down). Do not settle down all the way down on your haunches.
For most people, squatting with raised heels makes it possible to have a straight back.
A partial squat or B squat, with one foot on the ground (not visible) and the other foot with the heel raised. This facilitates a healthy, straight back posture.
In conclusion, for modern urban people to derive the benefits but avoid the pitfalls of squatting, consider raising your heels, or doing a “B squat” or partial squat. For going to the toilet, a Squatty Potty or low foot bench is useful. We recommend on working on your calf and quad flexibility to get low to the ground towards a squat, but do not insist on a full squat because it will likely involve some unhealthy compensations. And enjoy people watching in cultures where squatting is part of daily living. Every culture has its facilities and limitations and it’s fun that we’re all different!
This woman squats for hours to add slip onto her pots. Orissa, India.