Welcome to the Year Of The Monkey and funnily enough, if you look around, you'll notice more and more people acting like monkeys. Well, more specifically, you'll notice that more and more awareness is being placed on moving back to more functional, primal movements and patterning when it comes to exercise. Take ZUU and the teachings of Ido Portal for example. They incorporate patterns such as walking like a bear, moving like a snake, jumping like a monkey and sitting like a frog.
One of my favourite primal positions is a monkey-like seated position (actually called 'Frog' in ZUU classes). This involves you sitting on your haunches, heels flat, feet and knees out wide, elbows on the inside of your knees, pushing them outwards, palms together and all of this whilst maintaining a nice, upright back position. Oh, and don't forget to breathe.
I love this position for a number of reasons:
It is a FANTASTIC hip opening stretch. As mentioned by Simon in a previous blog post, hip mobility is hugely important and often hugely ignored.
It lengthens out your calf and achilles which helps prevent lower limb injuries
It helps strengthen your foot intrinsics, as you should think about not collapsing through the inside of your ankle whilst doing it, rather holding your arch up.
It brings a great amount of heat to the hips and lower limb and gets blood circulating around the area pronto.
It helps get your back into a better position so when you are squatting you can maintain more of an upright back position.
It lengthens out those adductors (inner thighs) which also, very commonly, get left to the wayside during your normal stretch routine.
When you first start practicing sitting in this position, some of you may find it incredibly uncomfortable. To ease into it, try sitting on the edge of a step, (or second step up if you're really struggling) with your heels flat and backed all the way into the bottom step. As you get better, lower yourself down one step or onto the floor. The more you hold this position, the easier it will become- I promise!!!
Many cultures (Indonesia, Malaysia, China etc) have sat like this for generations, and still do. Somewhere along the line, western culture lost that habit and along with it, accumulated a long list of issues due to the restrictions in mobility that followed.
What better way to embrace the Year Of The Monkey than by learning to sit like one.