Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Most of us sit a lot. We sit for work, to eat, to read, to drive, and watch Netflix. We think sitting is bad but *recent studies have made me skeptical about a lot of assumptions including assumptions around sitting. Is sitting really bad for us? Well, I’ll give the answer up front so you can pay attention to the rest of this post. Sitting may not be as bad for us as we think, but how we sit is bad for us. We have been sitting with weakness and tightness which can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
Sit in Dandasana. How long can you sit? 30 seconds? 1 minute? This is not a competition but one way to gage the strength and flexibility required for healthy sitting. The pain we associate with sitting is often a sore lower back; however, it’s not that we get a sore lower back from sitting or bad posture, slumping in our chairs, or looking like gumby on the sofa. Sore lower backs are the result of weakness and tightness in our backs and until we can build strength and support we will have soreness and will easily fatigue. We must make friends with movement - walk your dog, clean your house, jump the hopscotch board your neighbor drew on the sidewalk (it’s not that hard), hike, ride your bike, and do yoga. We must make friends with strengthening and lengthening our backs and yoga has many poses to help us from Dandasana to Trikonasana to Sarvangasana.
I have a desk job with deadlines and meetings. I know that focus is paramount to achieve some tasks, and that I have an incredible ability to live in my head as I work, not moving, so I must be body conscious. I must not just sit without moving only my fingers but stand, relax my neck and shoulders, get up and walk around. It’s not bad that I sit, it's bad that I don’t move. I must move to build strength and flexibility to support my back. To support my sit. To support my health.
Over the next few weeks I encourage you not to notice how you sit, you’re probably pretty familiar with that, but to do one (1) back strengthening pose a day. Try something safe and within your abilities. There are no prizes for extreme poses, no Eye of Tiger will play as you lift into Urdhva Dhanurasana, or Rocky theme song for x number of pushups. The prize is a stronger, longer spine, healthy, happy vertebrae, and sitting without pain.
* Daniel E. Liberman, EXERCISED: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding