To Sit Or Not To Sit?
How do you feel about sitting? It seems like a simple question, though there are lots of kinds of sitting and lots of mixed messages about sitting these days.
On one hand, you’ll hear that we sit too much, that our chairs are killing us and other fear-induced headlines. We do sit more than we used to because of all the things technology can bring to us as we sit at our desks. The truth is not that we sit that much more but we sit for much longer periods of time.
Sitting can also refer to sitting in meditation. So while the headlines scream for us to get in more steps and be more active, the next headline will be about finding time to sit in meditation. It feels a little like wellness whiplash. What are we supposed to do?
The Ancient Yogis
Let’s go back to the ancient yogis who meditated for many hours a day. If you sit for too long your bones will literally begin to fuse together. You may be familiar with that feeling of stiffness when you sit for a long time.
The physical practice of yoga came about as a way for the yogis to stretch and stay in shape so they could sit for so many hours. It seems odd that they had to get flexible and strong so they could sit. Remember, however they were not sitting in comfy ergonomic chairs. They were sitting on the ground.
What if the question about sitting was reframed?
How do you feel about sitting on the ground?
Human Movements Going Extinct?
One of our amazing yoga instructors in New Jersey, Maria DeNoda recently posted on facebook page about adding functional movement into her yoga classes and linked an article, 10 Human Movements That Are Going Extinct.
Guess what the very first movement they mentioned was? Sitting on the ground. In yoga class, this is a very typical position to begin a class. One of the most common seated positions, what we know as criss-cross applesauce is called sukhasana, or sweet pose. Yet for many people, it’s a not-so-sweet and a hard place to start. Tight hips, cranky knees, and low back issues can be part of the discomfort and blocks and other props can help make it more accessible for students to work with these conditions.
Many of us, grin and bear it hoping the class will just move along. There is however some treasure in learning more about the mechanics of sitting so it can become a pose of ease and sweetness. This is where functional movement comes in as a valuable addition to a yoga practice. In functional movement we get down into the nitty-gritty details of our body mechanics. There are some skeletal limitations but much the inability to sit on the ground is just from not doing it very much.
Almost a year ago I began doing more functional movement as part of joining CrossFit. Even with a regular yoga practice there were limitations in my hips and shoulders that limited my mobility. Its been fascinating to see how widening my range of motion, spending more time crawling around like a bear, hanging from a bar and other kinds of weird workouts have expanded my mobility and added a whole lot of fun to my morning fitness routine.
It’s also the reason I have invited my CrossFit Coach, Marco Dapkey, to join us next year on our Costa Rica Journey. Functional movement is a critical piece of a wholebeing framework and a great compliment to a yoga practice.
So this week, I invite you to get on the floor. Check out the video below to explore some of the ways you can build your ability to sit.
Happy trails on your path to the sweetness of sitting.