Habitat for a Happy Body

To improve your sitting postures, I’ve already discussed that the main ingredient you need is variety. Finding different positions to reside in will help keep your body parts from settling and stiffening into the orientation they frequent most. I also introduced the idea of using bolsters or other props to help make it easier to sit up tall rather than rounding the body into a slouch. Now I’d like to share one of the best things you can do to truly make a difference in your body’s physique: change your sitting habitat.

Look around you. How many chairs can you see right now? How many different seats do you sit in throughout the day? We live in a culture inundated with chairs, sofas, and other sitting furniture. By conforming to only the structures that we have designated for sitting, we miss out on a host of other possible resting positions. If we lived in nature, it would be a lot harder to sit so repetitively in the same way. All the rocks, logs, and patches of ground we might rest on would have different shapes, angles, and textures—thus preventing our bodies from getting used to just one way of sitting.

I always find that if I want to cultivate a new habit, I need to make it convenient to do. Most homes and workplaces make it hard to do anything other than plopping into one of the abundant chairs. If I want to sit on the floor, I will probably find all the furniture of the room towering over me, not to mention I might feel awkward to be the only one down there. In my own house, I’ve made it much more convenient to sit on the floor or on other non-chair surfaces. While there are a couple traditional chairs, and even a couch (alas!), there are also big, open spaces where one can sit on rugs or cushions. I can work at the lower coffee table while I sit on the floor or squat, or I can stand at a counter. By having a range of different options , it’s really easy for me to keep changing up my positions throughout the day.

If you want to adapt your environment to encourage better sitting, a good place to start is simply to replace one chair in your life with something else. It could just be an exercise ball or even a different chair. If your body is up for it though, you might be surprised at how fun it is to sit on the floor. Remember you can always bolster your seat to make it easier on tight hips. When you begin to look not only at how you are shaping your body but how your environment is shaping it as well, you will have started yourself on a really good path towards long term wellness.