Squatting was a natural movement you probably did as a child. Jumping up from it was easy. As you grow up you become a little less supple with your joints somewhat unwilling to cooperate when they're pushed into positions you don't often use. That's where Hindu squats come in. If you practice them regularly, they can bring back some of that agility.
Functionality is Key
While the traditional squats are accomplished by lowering yourself no deeper than a sitting position with thighs parallel to the ground, Hindu squats are a body movement in which you lower yourself into a deep squat position, bending the knees into an approximately 45-degree angle with the hips nearly touching your heels.
Assessing the Soreness
As with any new exercise, it's better to be conservative. If any muscle -- including a hamstring -- is already sore, consider what is causing the soreness. It may be a serious injury, such as a pulled muscle or a torn tendon or ligament. If so, see a physician for evaluation. However, if the soreness is from muscle training, a limited number of Hindu squats may actually help it heal by improving circulation.
The Knees Know
Of course, always be sure to warm up with 10 minutes on the treadmill or dancing or marching in place. If you already have any trouble with your knees, be cautious. The ideal Hindu squat is accomplished in a rather fast, rhythmic motion, but when you start out take it slow until you feel how your joints are responding. Stop if you detect unusual popping, cracking or pulling.
For those with minimal lower body issues, the Hindu squat might just be the ticket to kicking your fitness up a notch. Proponents of the move claim that with regular practice, Hindu squats have improved their overall fitness by doing multiple reps -- as many as 400 to 500 a day. However, 100 is a good goal for the average person, starting with 25 or so and increasing from there. The improvement in a sore hamstring might come from the eccentric move of pushing yourself back to a standing position.
Making Friends with Gravity
The Hindu squat is considered a bodyweight exercise -- it does not require dumbbells or any other kind of additional weight or exercise equipment. Done properly, with control and incorporating a rowing motion of the arms, some experts believe it can be as aerobic as running, without the impact. The beauty of the move is that it can be done anywhere, within just a few square feet, whether you're traveling or limited on space at home.
LaVonne Taylor's 30-year career in health, fitness and beauty journalism, and a past personal trainer certification from American Council on Exercise, has given her a world of experience. She has worked as associate managing editor with "Shape" magazine and at McGraw-Hill in their educational division as a health and art project manager.