And why the Western world need to embrace them.
You never know quite what to expect when you walk into a public restroom. Sometimes you are pleasantly surprised with clean-ish floors and smells of cleaning products, or at the very least those little fragrance cakes that smell like fake pine. Sometimes, though you walk in and wish you had stopped at the place you saw an hour ago – or that you could hold it to the next stop.
Most women have had to do the toilet tango at least a few times in their lives. We all know the feeling of hovering with our bums in the air, bent knees buckling and shaking at 45°, handbag around our necks (cos heaven forbid it should touch the floor!), trying to aim from a part of our anatomy that was clearly not meant for aiming.
For me, the saving grace is squat toilets. Those little holes in the floor where you can firmly plant your feet on either side and happily ‘go about your business’. ‘Firmly’ is loosely used here and relates to doing ‘your business’ on solid ground – trains and boats require some advanced squat toilet using skills. Granted it takes a couple of times to get your aim just right (can’t have it all, can we?) and you still need to figure out what to do with your bag. But you get to do your business in a relatively comfortable position without being worried about catching anything from the toilet seat!
According to the yogi’s this position is also more natural and a healthier way to ‘go about your business’. Perhaps this is why there is now special steps being invented in the Western world that can be placed around your western toilet to help you raise your legs to a squat position while still sitting comfortably on the seat – talk about re-inventing the toilet!
Some benefits to using a squat toilet include:
- It helps you to get rid of your bodily waste faster, easier and more complete as it allows your anorectal angle to straighten. This prevents fecal stagnation which could lead to colon cancer, appendicitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Squatting protects the nerves that control the prostate, bladder and uterus from stretching and damaging.
- Squatting creates a more secure seal in the valve that separates the colon and the small intestine avoiding contaminating the small intestine while you are doing your business.
- It relaxes your puborectalis muscle (the muscle that keeps your poop inside) which means you need to use less strain to get rid of what no longer serves you.
- Your thighs support your colon, also leading to less straining. This helps in preventing hernias among other things.
- It is also said that squatting can be a form of treatment for haemorrhoids.
- Pregnant ladies might find that squatting exerts less pressure on the uterus and prepares them for a more natural delivery.
Since I discovered the magic of squat toilets while traveling through Asia, the stall with the hole in the floor has become the preferred choice for me.
*A version of this article first appeared at www.zafigo.com