Tips from instructor Elaine Oyang
When we sit for long periods of time our core can become disengaged, and our hip flexors are shortened and weakened.
From personal experience, I know when I sit in a “bad” position, I experience shoulder and upper back soreness. I’d catch myself over and over again while typing away on my computer, because it is just so darn easy to slouch into my chair.
Furthermore, by sitting in a slouched position, we are compressing our lungs and digestive organs. obstructing blood flow and nutrient/waste exchanges in all these areas. Panic attacks, shortness of breath, digestive issues, constipation–sound familiar?
And what about your head and neck? When the mid/upper back curves in extreme convexity, the neck and head is pulled forward. As the head cranes forward, the neck has to work harder and harder to support the weight of our head, and as you can see below, that ain’t easy! Constant craning forward of the neck and head can result in stiffness in the shoulders, neck pain, and even headaches.
And that is why we go to yoga class and practice Tadasana, over and over again, so that we can override the poor standing habits we have accumulated for decades. Similarly, in my pain rehab center classes, I teach “seated” Tadasana. If you are not used to a tall seated position, this might come across as very difficult for you because you have to rely a lot more on your core strength. On the other hand, when standing, you can distribute the weight bearing to your legs.
Follow the directions below to achieve your best sitting posture at your desk! (or anywhere else, like on a date, on the bus, in your car, at a meeting–you’re sure to impress!)
How to sit properly:
I cue the patients visualize their sitting bones as their feet. Plant your sitting bones “feet” on the chair, preferably away from the back of your chair so that you don’t have the urge to slouch back. From those two points, close your eyes and visualize yourself “growing” out of your sitting bones. Try to lift the lower back out of the hips and sacrum, and find the natural concave curve of the lumbar spine. If you have trouble lifting out of your pelvis due to tightness in the hamstrings or stiffer lower back, place a thick blanket under your hips to help boost you a little higher. With the knees now slightly below the hips, your hip flexors can relax and you have more access to your lower back mobility. With your eyes still closed, play around with shifting your upper body slightly to the left, right, front, and back, then find a “balancing” point where you feel as if the vertebrae are stacked in the neatest Jenga formation. Perform the same with your head until you find the head balancing effortlessly at the top of your neck.
Sit quietly for 10 to 15 deep breaths, with the eyes and jaws soft. You might notice your body slightly swaying–that is natural, since our body is a dynamic machine with the heart continuously beating, the lungs continuously taking in air, and the blood continuously flowing. Observe how your breath changes (or not), how you actually feel more relaxed (or not), and how slowly the tensions in your shoulders, neck, and lower back melt away (or not). Take note and internalize these sensations. Your body is smarter than you think, and it will remember this position overtime if you repeat this exercise.