How To Sit Comfortably

Alexander teacher Ariel Weiss tells interviewer Robert Rickover: “I want to debunk the myth of sitting still. We’re not designed to sit still. People get in trouble when they stiffen themselves and make themselves still when they sit.”

“I ask people to take a break. Set an alarm on your computer. The computer is a place where people [often] sit for long periods of time without any attention to themselves and they become still and stiff.”

Robert: “Just the idea that one should find a right position is counterproductive.”

Ariel: “If I talk about finding movement in sitting, I hope to detour that myth that I am going to show them the right position. There’s free movement and good balance but there’s always movement.”

“I ask people to open up their sensory mechanism. When people sit, they’re often engaged in a task and narrowing the information they’re letting in. When people are at the computer, they are often so focused on the screen in front of them, they’re not letting in other information (perhaps through their auditory or tactile sense).

“I’ll ask my students to notice their feet on the floor. What surfaces of them are contacting the chair that is holding them up. The back of their legs? The bottom of their pelvis? Perhaps their arms are on the arm rest?”

“I would ask them to notice where their weight is being supported and let the chair be a good partner. A lot of time when we sit, people pull down and collapse and put their weight on to their lower backs or bellies, or even more strangely up in their shoulders.”

Robert: “Lifting themselves up.”

Ariel: “Or pulling themselves forward.”

“We want the weight of our skull balancing over the weight of our pelvis. If we’ve pulled our head forward in space, we’re then balancing our head out over the ether. We’ve put our neck muscles to great effort to hold on for dear life. If we pay attention to where our head is, then our neck has more of a break and it is not going to pull on our shoulders and arms as much.”

Robert: “That pattern of putting the head forward in space is exacerbated for many people by video displays and computer screens. There’s a tendency to want to get your eyes closer to what you’re looking at. When you do that, the head is no longer in balance. You have to hold it up. That requires a lot of work.”

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