Despite a 5,000 plus year history of the chair, it has been the past 200 years that the use of the chair has become so common in our Western Culture. Between dining, our commutes and many of our jobs - a large number of us are spending the majority of the day seated in some type of chair.
However, our Western way of sitting is still far from the norm.
A study of human posture in the 1950s identified that “at least a fourth of mankind habitually takes the load off its feet by crouching in a deep squat, both at rest and at work,” anthropologist Gordon W. Hewes observed.
A deep squat is favoured by many people in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. Squatting extends the muscles in the lumbar spine, stretching the low back and evenly distributing the body weight to the legs, hips & core. This is one of the main reasons back pain is nearly non existent in many places outside of North America.
Kneeling (sitting on the heels with the knees on the floor,) is a Japanese posture called Seiza. Kneeling is also practiced by Koreans, Eurasians, and by Muslims at prayer. This is also a wonderful position to combat how we sit and move through our daily lives. There are many benches that support you in a kneeling position, but you can also use our Sitting Pretty Pillows for a softer perch.
We can look no further than pictures or statues of the Buddha as a common image of a person sitting in lotus position. Many of our Westerners can't or shouldn't sit in lotus like the Buddha, but we can sit in a cross-legged position with some assistance.
This is where Meditation Pillows, Zafus and Floor Cushions come in handy. They lift the hips and drop the knees to tilt the pelvis forward and allow the spine to return to a more neutral position.
The design of residential sitting that has become pervasive was not designed for the needs of the human body. The prevalence of sitting in regular chairs can promote uncomfortable alignment including a rounded lower back, tight groin and hip flexor muscles and a sunken chest.
In the West, we are now seeing a shift and growing interest in floor sitting. There is a greater mindfulness of ergonomics and postural awareness in the business world seen with the rise of standing desks, treadmill desks, office yoga, and so-on making individuals rethink their constant sitting position.
With the growing popularity of meditation people are waking up to the physical benefits of sitting in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) on the floor. Not only for meditation, but for other daily activities like playing, eating or working.
Interior decorating trends are leaning toward bohemian or “boho” style with floor cushions, low chairs, plush carpets and tons of throw pillows. Lifestyle trends in some circles are shifting toward a more natural state, with various forms of sitting on the ground falling in this camp.
Constant reliance on chairs has left us with weak, tight and sore lower backs, weak abdominal muscles, and stiff, inflexible hips. Returning to floor sitting naturally makes you sit more upright, with an elongated spine and shoulders drawn back from a rounded position. It improves core and lower back strength, releases tight hip flexors and improves flexibility of the legs, knees and hips. The good posture created can reduce headaches, relieve tension in the shoulders and neck, increase energy, increase lung capacity, and give space for organs.
Additionally, sitting on the floor can calm the mind and bring a humble and grateful perspective to others, the world and yourself. Some find it easier to feel grounded and connect to the spiritual side of life.
Our Sitting Pretty Pillows give a seat to help release your hips and lower back to help you kneel or sit cross legged comfortably. For those with tighter hips, knee issues, or low back problems, the new Modern Zafu provides a little extra lift for meditation or floor sitting. A Zabuton works in perfect harmony with our meditation cushions, protecting feet and ankles while the sit cushion protects your knees, hips and back. The extra length and width allows you to spread out as much as you wish!
When in doubt, use what you have at home! A pillow or couch cushion can serve as a meditation seat to give your hips a lift to sit comfortably, and a folded blanket or two couch cushions lined up can provide the base to protect your feet and ankles.
Get comfortable and allow yourself to sit tall and steady with ease as you quiet your mind, sit to eat, read, watch tv, or go about your daily life while improving your posture & well being.