We all sit. A lot. Especially in today’s modern world.
We get up in the morning. Sit to eat breakfast. Sit to drink coffee and read. Get in our car and sit some more. Get to our office and sit, sit, sit.
If you are reading this, you are most likely a lot more active than the average person. You may hike, bike, run, go to the gym, do yoga, etc, several times per week. If this is you, amazing!
But, what happens in between your gym & workout times?
More likely than not, you probably sit a fairly large amount of your day.
Sitting affects everything! For the purpose of this particular blog, I am going to focus on how sitting affects our breath, why that matters, & how you can sit with natural alignment.
When you sit, you most likely often sit with a collapsed posture. Your shoulders are rounded forward, your chest cavity caved in, and your stomach & diaphragm area are mushed together.
Sitting with this poor posture impedes your lungs from inflating fully.
When your lungs do not inflate fully over prolonged periods of time, muscle imbalances begin to occur. One major muscle imbalance is that you begin to lose mobility and flexibility in your psoas muscles.
Your psoas muscles connect into the front of the lumbar (lower) spine. They then extend down through your pelvis and attach to the top of the inside of the femur.
When you sit, the psoas muscle shortens, becomes tight, and begins to lose some of its function. Even if you don’t necessarily sit that much anymore, think about all those years when you were in school, sitting for long periods of time from the young age of 5 or 6. From a very young age, the functionality of your psoas muscle was compromised, creating a habitual way of walking & moving based around either tight &/or non-engaged psoas muscles.
If the psoas is not functioning well, you are not going to be breathing well, especially deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Each psoas muscle has fascial connections to the diaphragm. If they are short and tight, they will pull on the diaphragm and limit the diaphragm’s ability to fully inflate and deflate. This results in a lack of ability to achieve a full, deep breath.
This is important because deep diaphragmatic breathing is the form of breathing that is more parasympathetic, the rest & digest, relaxed state. The state in which all healing & recovery takes place.
In summary, not breathing well and being in more of a sympathetic, stressed state can happen because you are sitting too much and your psoas muscles are not working well and not allowing you to breath well.
In an attempt to counteract the collapse that occurs when bones are not aligned, you may have adopted the society-wide misperception of what ‘good posture’ is and how it is supposed to look. Typical instructions include: tucking in the butt, sucking in the belly, lifting the chest, and pulling the shoulders back. This lifting of the chest causes your lower back to arch, putting pressure on your intervertebral discs, while holding muscles in constant contraction. This ‘ideal’ posture that dominates the current ‘fitness’ paradigm, compresses the spine and requires a large amount of muscular tension to hold the body ‘up’. You may have never actually been taught about what natural posture actually is & how to achieve it. Without the support of aligned bones, you will inevitable sink back down into the same familiar heap.
Learning to find the support of aligned bones is the key to easy, relaxed posture that does not require the effort of straining, struggling muscles to pull you up or hold you together.
So, how can cultivate a deeper level of awareness & begin to practice sitting in a natural, aligned posture? How can you sit happily?