I did yoga regularly for a few years before starting burpees. Yoga means a lot of downward dogs. In all those years, my heels never touched the ground while doing them. At best I reached something like this:
This morning my heels reached the ground. I think limberness decreases with age, so doing it at fifteen years older feels extra satisfying. So far, my heels barely brushed the floor. I’ll keep going until I can do this:
I only started stretching recently and my goal was originally to do a third–world squat (becoming known as the deep bodyweight squat, though in many places is probably just called sitting), which looks like this:
I don’t remember ever being able to do it. At least as far back as college, I lacked the flexibility to keep my heels on the ground. Over the past six months, maybe a year, I’ve stretched my quads and Achilles in various ways to approach it. I hurt my knee so paused reaching the third-world squat, but am continuing what I can keep doing. I’m close to being able to sit on my feet like this, called seiza in Japanese:
When I first tried this sitting pose, my legs screamed in pain. I thought it would be impossible or would injure me. Instead, it’s yet another case of persistent, diligent work. For months I took baby steps from what I could to to a little more the next day, sometimes moving backward, sometimes advancing a lot.
What do I get out of it? If it makes sense to you, I don’t have to describe it and if I have to describe it, it probably won’t make sense, but it sharpens the mind and develops habits to acquire skills. It’s useful to know from experience that what others can do, I can too if I put in the effort. It improves life.
I’m pretty close to the third-world squat. Reaching the floor with my heels in the downward dog for the first time was a rewarding milestone. I expect the next will be sitting on my feet comfortably.
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