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.
Awareness is 99% of correcting posture.
So, how can you cultivate a deeper level of awareness & begin to practice sitting in a natural, aligned posture? How can you sit happily?
Cultivating awareness is a challenge for anyone, at any age. Changing your habits is ultimately an ‘inside job’ that can never be accomplished for you by anyone else. The below steps will educate you step-by-step on how to sit with natural alignment so that you can begin to implement healthier ways of sitting today.
- The Arrangement of the Pelvis is the Foundation for Easy Upright Sitting.
- The position of the pelvis determines the angle of the platform on which the spine sits.
- Your knees should be lower than your hips.
- This allows your pelvis to be tipped forward. One way to remember this is to imagine the pelvis as a bowl of water. In this position, all the water would be poured out the front of the bowl.
- Most chairs cause a ‘sinking’ back where your knees become higher than your pelvis. This causes your tailbone (coccyx) to be tucked under, which disrupts the angle of the sacral platform on which the spine sits, causing the spine to collapse and round.
- Find your Sits Bones aka Ischial Tuberosities.
- Move your pelvis forward and back to feel the front and back edges of your sits bones.
- Now, come to what feels like somewhere between the front and the middle of the sits bones. You will want to be slightly more towards the front.
- Let your weight drop down onto the front of your pelvis or pubic bone. From there, imagine a string gently pulling you up from the inside.
- This is the position will allow you to discover the vertical axis of gravity within yourself.
- When the weight of the spine and the head that rests on top of it are forced down onto the back edge of the sits bones, the spine is no longer able to align along the central axis and cannot distribute the forces of gravity through a vertical line.
- We often think of collapsing as ‘letting go’ and relaxing, but without the support of aligned bones, many muscles are put under tremendous stress and are anything but relaxed.
- Let Your Belly be Relaxed.
- By habit, you may often suck your belly in. This causes the muscles along the spine to tighten and shorten, which results in a lot of unnecessary tension and pain.
- When you hold your tummy in, you are again creating extra tension in the psoas muscles & diaphragm, and limiting your ability to take a full deep breath in (contributing to you being more in a sympathetic low level stressed state).
- See if you can Feel your Breath in your Low Back
- This allows for a deeper, more relaxing breath. Which contributes to your body being in a state that promotes healing.
- Bringing your breath to the low back also allows any unnecessary tension that you may hold while sitting to release.
- If you aren’t able to feel your breath in your low back, bring your hand to your low back. The external touch from your hand will help you access your breath in this area. If this is completely new to you & you find yourself having difficulty accessing the breath here, give yourself some patience. Start to track where on your back your breath is able to access, and then little be little move the breath lower. This is a process, enter it with gentle curiosity.
- Build an Awareness of the Front of your Spine
- When you think of your spine, you most likely think about your back or the back of your spine. Your spine, particularly your lumbar vertebrae (lower back) go deep inside of you.
- Beginning to have a reference & awareness point of the front of your spine is one of the most important steps in being able to sit in your easy, natural alignment.
- See if you can allow your belly to be relaxed from here.
- Ground & Get Support from your Feet
- Your feet provide you with important information on your environment. They help you to orient in gravity, as well as help to gain stability from the ground up while sitting.
- As you are sitting, feel the floor coming to meet your feet. Feel it supporting you. Bring your focus there.
- Gently press your feet into the ground with a subtle reaching forward push. When you do this, can you feel the inner line of your legs activate up into your core? If so, take this awareness piece a step further & imagine you can connect with the front of your spine from your feet.
- For every 45 minutes of sitting, take a movement break.
- Doing this simple step will allow you to be more productive with greater ease and have more energy.
- Set an alarm for 45-minutes. Work on one focused task during that time. Then, when the alarm goes off, set a second alarm for 5-15 minutes. This is your movement break.
- Use this time to give your eyes and the back of your neck a break from looking at the computer.
- During this break, get up and move. Do some jumping jacks, squats, walk, stretch (especially stretching out your psoas muscles), & take some deep full breaths.
If you have young kids in your life, particularly babies & toddlers, look at how they sit. Notice what position their pelvis is in. A healthy baby enjoys the solid, yet relaxed support of naturally aligned bones. Young children are role models for true fitness.
Print out the above How to Sit bullets. Place the instructions on your desk, near where you will see them everyday when you are sitting. Take 1 bullet per week & keep at the forefront of your mind. Begin to build your awareness muscles & master each step.
To learn about how sitting impacts how you breath & your stress levels, read my blog Are you overly stressed & sitting too much? Here’s why.