Best way to sit on the floor?
December 24, 2011 6:50 AM   Subscribe

I sit on the floor a lot. It's uncomfortable and difficult to sustain. Please share with me your techniques and poses to help me achieve this. Bonus points for Alexander-related techniques.
posted by tel3path to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Sit seiza, the traditional sitting pose for Japanese folks. Tuck your legs under you, knees on the floor and soles of your feet pointed up, as if kneeling. Rest your weight on your butt, sitting on uour heels, but keep your spine straight and head up but relaxed, chin slightly tucked. Left toe crosses over right.

It will take some time for your muscles to get used to this, but eventually you will be able to sit for long periods of time without discomfort.
posted by ellF at 7:22 AM on December 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've started meditating daily doing vispassana style. You put a cushion on the floor to raise your posterior up a few inches, sit tailor fashion/cross-legged, one hand cupping the other in your lap to help keep you erect, spine straight and relax. I need a carpet under my feet so my ankles don't get cramps.
Doing this daily has become an internal conversation about posture as well. How do I know when I'm actually sitting optimally and straight so I can focus my awareness. I've often found myself starting off thinking I'm straight when I'm actually slumped. In the course of sitting, I then need to find a new posture that's more optimal.
I took some Alexander Technique lessons years ago. My sitting meditation led me to start thinking about this again. One of the lessons from the Technique is that when we 'improve' posture, what tends to happen is that we reinforce the bad habits and learned behaviors, squaring the shoulders, forcing the head higher and so forth. By learning body mechanics and increasing our sensitivity to our inner felt sense of balance, this can be greatly improved.
Here's a link about Alexander Technique self-study and another with some lessons on the same subject.
One trick I've learned is that when I'm sitting, if I raise my hands to a prayer position at my forehead, the chest raises up and the spine, neck and upper body come into a natural sense of alignment. Another is that the Technique is all about neck tension and how this precedes many poor postural habits. Releasing the neck first and letting the head and neck find a natural unforced balance leads the the upper body to become more balanced and relaxed as a result.
posted by diode at 7:52 AM on December 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

I do get numb spots and need breaks after every couple of hours but I can sit for hours in this basic position - I hesitate to give it a name (I know it as alti palti) - I also do it on a cushion on my plain armless wooden desk chair as its less strain than sitting with my legs down (particularly for long periods of typing) and gives me more leverage for the arms as well keeps my back straighter.
posted by infini at 8:17 AM on December 24, 2011

Well, the best way is to squat.
posted by zephyr_words at 8:36 AM on December 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Alexander says *never* cross the legs when sitting. I practise strict Alexander technique and a few hours of floor sitting with a pillow under my bum with legs extended, alternating extension, etc., will screw my hips for a day or so. Use a seat if you can. Sure, I'm middle aged, and I play the bass, which is precisely why I adhere to this regime. The activity puts weight on my left shoulder and requires asymmetrical use of force with arms. I need a counterweight to this!

Side effect — it also makes you feel fantastic.
posted by Wolof at 3:37 AM on December 25, 2011

ellF, I sat seiza for one minute yesterday, and two today. Any particular reason why the left toe has to be crossed over the right? All the toes, or just one?

infini, the alti palti position is actually the one in which I'm most likely to slump. Maybe it's because I have a long torso, not sure.
posted by tel3path at 4:46 PM on December 25, 2011

tel3path - Now that I think about it, that position makes me slump too if its not on the chair against the desk. Its too comfortable not to slump tbh (unless the desk is there etc) sorry!
posted by infini at 10:57 PM on December 25, 2011

Seiza is good (called Vajrasana in yoga). Better - for me the absolute best - is to sit between the heels, soles of feet facing upwards, toes pointing backwards. Put a cushion down to sit on with heels beside the hips. If one cushion isn't comfortable for sitting for a long time, then use two, or three. Get the height right and you have the perfect position. It's shown on the second picture down on I hope.
posted by nickji at 5:18 AM on December 26, 2011

Well the link didn't come through so I try again
posted by nickji at 5:18 AM on December 26, 2011

I don't know if you're looking for this devices, but the Nada Chair, can really help when you're sitting on the floor.
posted by jefftang at 8:46 AM on December 29, 2011

It seems like this is not a problem I'll ever be able to solve, as my experiments in kneeling just make me cry with the pain after a while. It's worse than the back and neck pain that comes with "normal" sitting.

I think I have to accept that with sitting, comes pain.
posted by tel3path at 4:10 AM on August 1, 2012

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