We sit for many hours and our bodies pay a price for it. Aches, stiffness, discomfort, reduced circulation, decrease in energy and agitation are some of the “payoffs” for sitting for hours. Many of us know that we need to get up every hour and move our bodies but how many of us actually do this?
This blog is meant to make it easier to be mindful of our bodies whilst sitting.
First, let’s look at the chair. I prefer a firm and straight chair with arms at a straight angle. A small cushion absorbs the impact of the hardness of the chair on my bottom. I prefer to sit at the very edge of the chair with only my sit bones touching it. Initially, it may feel unnatural, however, with practice, it becomesvery comfortable. My knees and ankles are at a 90 degreeangle and I feel very stable as my body emulates the chair lines. Now, I pay attention to my spine and I lift it from my sit bones to be parallel to the back of the chair and as straight, but not rigid. I relax my shoulders and neck so my head is in neutral position (not leaning and not “turtled” into my neck). If I extend my arms (for example to type on my computer), I make sure I am not hunching my back or my neck and I adjust my chair so that my elbows can be supported by the desk.
Once in awhile, as I notice tiredness or discomfort, I pause and ask myself what is going on in my body? There are a few things I may notice.
1. My eyes get tired or watery. There are a few things I can do if this happens – I can rub my hands together with zest and then cup them gently over my open eyes and breathe into my cupped hands. I massage gently the muscles above and below the eyes. I can move my eyes up and down, left and right and close them after each time. I press hard on the meeting place between the base of my nose and the corner of my eyes. I do the above 3 to 5 times each.
2. My head is achy. Here I can move my chair away from the desk, go back to my table position (90 degree angles) and bring my head down and in between my knees. I stay here for a few minutes with my eyes closed, head fully relaxed, arms dangling and back rounded. I find this position very relaxing and energizing. This alsoworks very well when there are too many thoughts or I have no inspiration and I need to create. The other thing I can do is to bring my chair closer to my desk so I can prop my head in between my cupped palms (I may have to lay a soft fabric in between the desk and the elbows), close my eyes and let my head lean heavily into my hands. While I am at it, I can massage around my eyes, at the meeting place between my eyes and nose, around my jaw bone and close to my ear lobes. I experience this as deeply calming and rejuvenating.
3. My neck and shoulders are painful. I bring up my shoulders towards my head, hold them there for a second or two and bring them down as far away from my neck as possible. I bring my head up and down (when down, chin comes into the chest; when up, head goes back as far as I can without encountering any pain), from side to side and circle it around gently in each direction three to five timeseach). I circle my shoulders in each direction ( three to fivetimes each). I lift off the chair and away from the desk and wave my arms in the biggest circle I can create around my body, front to back and the other way around. As I sit down again, I intertwine my fingers behind my neck and hug my head tight; to balance this pose, I open my arms with my intertwined hands behind my back as wide as I can. If my neck is still sore, I bring my chin to my chest.
4. My back is sore. I will do twists with one arm hugging the opposite arm of the chair and the other one on my thigh (I do three to fiveof these on both sides). I can lift my arms all the way up hugging my ears, close my eyes and visualize my spine being stretched from my tailbone all the way to the crown. I move my chair away from the desk and stretch forward (still sitting) with arms in front of me so my back is parallel to my knees and to the chair, again visualizing the spine’s stretch away from the tailbone towards the finger tips.
5. My bottom is achy. I can lift each buttock cheek off the chair a number of times to activate circulation and the muscles around the hips, thighs and gluts. I prop my elbows on the arms of the chair and lift off both cheeks and plop back down with a thump. I can bring each knee to my forehead or even both and have my heels on the chair’s sitting area, propping my head in between my knees.
6. My feet are sore or numb. If I am able to bring my foot up on the chair (one at a time), I can massage every part of my foot, top and bottom. I rotate the ankles in every direction and I clench my toes and unclench them. I also interweave my fingers in between my toes and give them a squeeze. This will feel achy initially, though later on, comforting and opening. It will improve circulation and flexibility in our extremities. It will also provide a wider base for sitting and walking which helps the spine. I also get up and shake my legs and feet.
7. My fingers are achy or I cannot feel them. Here I do “light bulbs” – I bring my elbows close to my body, squeeze the fingers tightly and stretch them as widely as I can. I can rotate my wrists in both directions and stretch each finger as well as the webs in between them. I rub my hands together and I shake them off. This will also help releaseany tension that has been stored in the neck and shoulders, including emotional and mental tension.
8. My forearms are sore. In order to prevent tendonitis from happening, supporting my forearms on the desk is helpful. Despite this, with a lot of reaching away from the body, the forearms will protest. Here, I lift off the chair, spread my fingers on the desk as widely as I can and lean into my wrists. I go forward and backward three to fivetimes. I will feel the achiness, the wrists may turn slightly red and then I feel the ease and the relief. I bring my hands on the desk, still standing, with the wrists touching and the fingers away from the wrists. I am in the “seal” pose where I use my bottom to move from the left to the right and back, putting pressure on the wrists and fingers. Then I lift the hands off the desk and shake them again. If I am flexible enough, I can turn my fingers towards my body and my wrists away from it and lean into them. This is more challenging and yet, provides a deeper stretch into the ligaments, tendons and muscles of the arms.
I hope you have a chance to play with some of these movements. I would love to hear from you if you found the instructions clear and the moves helpful.
With blessings for your health,