Steve Maxwell Articles

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Reversing the Damage of Chair Sitting

Q: Hey Steve, this is great info -- thanks. Just what I was looking for. You've mentioned the archetypal postures before -- what are they?


A: Start sitting and laying on the floor as much as possible; avoid chairs as much as possible. Use the following 10 Archetypal postures whenever sitting for any length of time; these are the natural, essential postures our bodies were designed for.

  1. 1. Laying on the stomach propped on the elbows (sphinx)
  2. 2. Squatting (flat-footed and upon toes)
  3. 3. Hunter Squat (kneeling on one leg while sitting on the heel)
  4. 4. Kneeling while sitting on the heels, toes curled under
  5. 5. Kneeling while sitting on the heels, tops of the feet flat
  6. 6. Sitting cross-legged (be sure to alternate leg positions)
  7. 7. Sitting with legs straight and out in front
  8. 8. Sitting with the legs in a straddle position (legs spread wide)
  9. 9. Z-sit, or sitting with one leg bent behind, butt on heel, the other leg out in front. This looks like the letter Z.
  10. 10. Laying on one side, head propped up on hand

These archetypal postures are of great import; most adults completely lose their ability to sit or lay comfortably upon the floor because their bodies have adapted to continual, chronic, chair-sitting. Look closely at old, stooped, bent-over, crippled-up people hobbling down the side walk.. If you look carefully, you'll see their bodies are literally shaped like a chair.

While it's important to be able to sit comfortably in these positions, it's equally important to be able to rise effortlessly from a seated position upon the floor--without using the hands. Practice the skill of rising up from all of the above positions--without using the hands at all. This is more challenging than it sounds.

A predominant difference between youthfulness and old age is your level of comfort and ability to relax down on the floor, as well as the ability to arise up from the floor to standing.

The floor is only uncomfortable because the body has fully adapted to the chair. As a child and young adult, the floor was as comfortable as any other surface. To reverse this body amnesia, even short intervals throughout the day, spent seated on the floor, will help facilitate movement and improve on the youthful movement patterns, in turn, rejuvenating aspects of the nervous system, including the brain.