[ Sifu Paulie Zink : Internationally acclaimed Monkey Kung Fu master, Taoist teacher, and founder of the popular Yin-Yoga Method ]
Ok, this is my long answer to the previous post about the Squat 30/30 Challenge.
In my opinion, I think the squat is an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT stretch for Westerners to adopt, since we spend so much time sitting in chairs, driving, standing, etc. People who work with their bodies, whether in the garden, or on the construction site, or playing with children on the floor, work their bodies the way Nature had intended. On the more unnatural side, those of us with desk jobs, driving jobs, cooking jobs, sales floor jobs, etc., have a restricted range of motion for an unnaturally extended period of time. Metaphorically, and physically, most people don’t spend much time orienting with and connecting to the ground, as our great ape cousins do, or as we all once did as children.
For using the squat as a stretch, it’s also important to work towards keeping the feet parallel as if you’re on skis, with your heels completely on the ground, and with your spine straight and head upright, while keeping perfectly in balance. Now if you can do this while reading a book or typing on your laptop that’s lying on the floor on front of you, you’ll be a pro.
Compressing the legs like this stretches the calves and strengthens the ankles, and will tell you if your hips are tight. Going in and out of this position will also help pump blood through your body, which is mostly produced in the femur bones (thigh bones). The squat stretch also helps to extend the spine, and through pressure, massage the internal organs. It goes without saying that your legs, and your entire lower body in fact, will become more primal and agile. Try leaping out of this position, and then back into this position if you want a more difficult workout (but take care of your knees!).
As a martial arts extension of this, you can practice suwari gata (or suwari waza as it’s also called) which begins with the elegant Japanese method for “walking on the knees” and extends into martial applications.
Above is the ‘normal’ suwari gata style of walking. But to focus on just exercising the squat (so this would be for exercise, and not for martial arts), you can try it this way: Walk, turn, etc from a squat position, but never let your knees touch the ground, and make sure to keep your heels down whenever you can, and not change heights. You should remain in somewhat of a squat with either one or both legs fully compressed at all times.
When you’re comfortable moving in this way, suwari gata positions like the following become a lot easier to dextrously move in and out of. Feet should move like hands — fast, like a silver bullet. [Bujinkan Shidoshi: Ed Lomax & Duncan Stewart]
And once you’ve put in the time to practice, you too can be as insanely light and agile as Zink — HOLY CRAP, LOOK AT HIM GO!!! (click the video link)