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Unanswered Squatting Questions

Last seen:
2 weeks 6 days ago
01/28/2017 - 3:06pm
Unanswered Squatting Questions

I found the following on the forum from 2014; it has no reply, and very closely mirrors questions I have as well. Hoping for some in sight.
Hello, Mrs. Gokhale :-)

I am so grateful for your work and have finally gotten your book! In searching the index I don't see anything about squatting, so I hope you'll clarify this for me here. I am just 21 and have shifted from an athletic lifestyle (in my childhood) to a sedentary (as a teenager) to athletic one again for the last year, during which I did CrossFit, which involves the low squat as a regular stretch. Since then I have incorporated this into my movements, although I do not hold it for much more than a minute (just a stretch and to pick up something low). Since I quit CF I've lost some flexibility and haven't hip-hinged as well as I could when I did deadlifts, but I'm planning on gaining my flexibility back. I'd really like to switch to squatting toilets in the near future and get my fiancé to do it with me. He is not flexible much at all, however, so this worries me (he is 20). I want our children to be able to squat; God forbid that their bones ossify as those of us westerners do! 

So what do you think? Am I young enough to keep doing the low squat? Bodyweight regular squatting (just below parallel) is a good workout for me; I know I can do that. I can produce a low (Asian) squat, but sometimes my ankles are a little pained (can you elaborate on ankle pronation?). My fiancé cannot yet even do a normal squat. But is this really something that cannot be worked on? My younger brother, just 11, cannot form a squat in his present state, yet he is extremely athletic and would surely just need training. (And they look equally awkward!) 

Lastly, about the Asian squat form, I know for these cultures it is a resting position. So it seems one should rest the back of the upper legs on the back of the lower (hamstrings on calves, basically), but when I get low enough to feel this relaxation, it seems inevitable that my pelvis is slightly tucked and back curved, even though I start with correct squat form. And it looks as though Asians do this, not keeping a J-spine. Also, there is actually a video of Mark Sisson (link is external) demonstrating the squat in which he has his back from the outset very curved. It frightens me! What do you make of all this? 

Thank you very much.

Dafsaer's picture
Last seen:
6 years 3 months ago
04/16/2016 - 3:16pm

Perhaps my observations on squatting will be of interest.

I'm 54 and like most Westerners, I was socialised out of squatting and into chairs at a young age. Since May 2016, I have been training myself to squat, starting for two minutes or so at a time, for a total of 30 minutes a day (Google Ido Portal's 30/30 squat challenge for more on this): I accomplished this mostly at the end of the day whilst watching Netflix!

I can now squat comfortably for as long as I need to. I also started squatting on the toilet, first on the seat, until I bought a squatting platform three months ago. A few days ago, I made bread on the ground in a squat. This was totally comfortable. I now find it more comfortable to rest in squat than on a chair.

I think it's probably more important to just do it regularly, rather than worry about how to do it. Over time, your tendons, ligaments and muscles will stretch gently and comfortably with daily squatting. Remember, you couldn't walk or talk the first time you tried, but you didn't give up. Likewise, you can squat again. I find it very healing at my age to retrieve what was lost as a child in the name of 'normality'.

Squatting makes full use of the body's range of movement, stretching, exercising and healing - it is precisely the fact that Western society is socialised into sitting rather than squatting at a young age that leads to joints and the spine atrophying over a lifetime, leading to the stiffness and fusing of bones, arthritis, and a multitude of things from middle age onwards; a general loss of youthfulness - older people who have squatted all their lives appear more youthful, and they suffer fewer of the toilet-related ailments of Western society, but I suspect fewer joint and mobility related ailments too, relating to the spine in particular.

Sitting in squat is like a healthy gathering together of all the parts of the body into a strong core (great for keeping warm) with everything working with gravity. Chair-sitting splits the system up so that the top and bottom are not engaged - weight goes down through the sitting bones, through the feet and through the back; nothing knows where it's supposed to go in relation to the other parts of the body, in compared to the squat, where everything is constantly working together as one unit.

There is an important relationship, I believe, in the relationship between our health and gravity: when squatting, with all our weight in equilibrium over our feet, every part of our system is working in harmony to keep us in balance. Sitting, however, means that the parts of the system are not engaged together in the same way - some weight goes through the feet, some goes through the sitting bones, and some can go through the back into a chair. I would intuit that that disrupts our energy flow - it certainly means that joints are not working in harmony with one another. Many people will be spending a large part of their waking life on chairs, whether driving, working or at leisure - and lying on a soft sprung mattress to sleep will also leave the skeleton disengaged, as the skeleton needs to rest completely firmly, otherwise the various parts of the system will constantly be trying to readjust, and so cannot rest completely - all leading to a premature ageing which we in the West accept as 'normal' - like sitting in chairs, sitting on toilets, and sleeping on soft beds.

Since I starting squatting last May, I'm seeing changes in my mobility, and I have a sense of some kind of other energetic change which I can't quantify. It somehow relates to a different 'awareness' that I believe is lost when we are socialised out of squatting.

Last seen:
2 days 14 hours ago
06/14/2015 - 8:34am


Some of us are not able to create a low or deep squat because we did not grow up using this position; therefore,  the hip bones have ossified in such a way that a deep squat is no longer possible.  For various reasons, ankles might not be up to the challenge of a deep squat without some sort of support. However, some students have found that once they have studied the Gokhale Method, they are able to squat more deeply and with greater ease without threatening the discs of the lower back.  All of the material that we teach and study in the Gokhale Method Foundations Course helps to enable a deep squat (even if it is never created): the feet, ankles, legs and pelvis are in a position better suited for squatting, the spine is more elongated, and the muscles that support the spinal shape are strengthened.  

If you have not taken the Gokhale Method Foundations Course, you may want to consider as it will provide a lifetime of benefits.  Our "hands-on" teaching format allows you to properly learn and practice each technique so that you are able to continue to use the Gokhale Method in you everyday life.   

Cheers to Healthy Pain-Free Life!

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