This is one of those lucky occasions (for me) when a blog wrote itself. I thought I'd share with you an (unedited) email exchange I had with a fellow who had seen my YouTube video. That video was all about sitting comfortably in an office environment, however, he was
interested in any advice I could offer on relaxing at home in front of the television, and why not, it's something we all enjoy doing from time to time. The nice thing was that he decided to
follow up by finding an Alexander teacher in his city, Buenos Aires, maybe a little too far to come and visit me.
I saw you on YouTube and was wondering if you recommend a chair for use in the living room for watching tv,relaxing etc.
Thanks for your question.
As you've realised, sitting whilst working at your computer is a very different activity to watching TV.
As I mentioned in my video, for working at a computer any flat and firm seat is sufficient, anything that allows you to effectively "stand up" on your bottom in a lively and dynamic way.
Sofas provide a very unstable base for the "sit bones" of the pelvis which is one reason why we simply collapse backwards and slump in them. The other reason is that our very concept of the activity is different, the idea of "relaxing" is often just "collapsing" and that can be done in any chair regardless of its design. It is possible to sit well in a sofa, but not if you're going to switch off to yourself.
As you can probably tell I'm slightly reluctant to recommend specific furniture, but in practical terms I'd suggest a chair that reclines and supports the legs, something like a La-Z-Boy, or equivalent, so that that collapsing/relaxing is well supported. It wont prevent habitual tension patterns that may be causing back pain and I'd encourage you to change the way you use your furniture as much as changing the furniture itself. Maybe think of elegant repose rather than slouching!
Apologies if that's not the simple recommendation you were after, but it's the nature of the beast as I see it.
There's an interesting book call The Chair by Galen Cranz that may give you further food for thought.
You may also be able to find an Alexander Technique Teacher who lives near you at http://www.stat.org.uk/searchgeo
Adrian Farrell MSTAT
0780 861 2510
I heard a podcast regarding the lady and the chair,as you say the emphasis is more how to sit and not what one sits on.
I found a couple of teachers in my area and have received a reply to my email from one of them with an opportunity to speak with her regarding my requirements.
Are there any videos etc that you know of that show the basics,I have seen some on you tube.
Many thanks for your help.
The problem with videos is they give you the idea that there's a prescriptive way you should do something, and in my experience no one ever changes their behaviour based on what they should do, and I include myself in that. You need to gain personal experience of what choices you have available to you. Also, it's the quality of the activity that's important with regards to the Alexander Technique, to quote Alexander himself "the act performed is of less consequence than the manner of it's performance".
It's almost impossible to write about, which is why, when forced to write for marketing purposes Alexander Teachers frequently fall back on prescriptive guidelines, although it's true that certain ways of using yourself are easier to gain freedom and flow of movement with.
I recently saw this posted on Facebook, and it's an excellent example showing quality of movement, the actual moves themselves are irrelevant from an Alexander perspective, but I'm sure you can get a sense of the grace within the movement. The same grace can also be applied to simple everyday activities.
I know I haven't answered your question directly, but I hope I've piqued your curiosity to try the Alexander Technique first hand with a teacher.
I spied a book in the library written by an AT teacher,giving advice based on the technique to help with back pain.
I thought I would follow up on this and perhaps try some lessons in order to help the "old bones"....
I will speak with a teacher and then see if we think lessons would be suitable for me.
I appreciate you replying to my mails,basically it's a hands on experience like learning to swim I suppose.
now offering a FREE introductory trial, come and find out if the Alexander Technique is the solution you were looking for. You've got nothing to lose but your pain!
Please feel free to contact me for a no obligation chat to see how the Alexander Technique can help you too.
Write a comment
Annie Turner (Thursday, 20 November 2014 20:22)
That's great, Adrian! My tuppence-worth to students is, if possible, put a board/garden kneeler under the main seat cushion, and a HUGE cushion behind you; most sofa seats are way too deep - out femurs are nowhere near that long! I have massive feather cushions 'making a new back' to my sofa and 'soft chairs'. Now I/we can settle back into soft feathers in a up-right kinda way. I so dislike the 'modern trend' of sofas with deep seats and 9" high backs - what's that all about?!?
adrianfarrell (Friday, 21 November 2014 12:16)
That's a great idea Annie. I mentioned that to someone this morning and they recalled that their grandparents used to put a board under the sofa cushions to help firm up the support for sitting on.
John Mulvihill (Saturday, 25 August 2018 00:42)
Adrian, as a long-time road cyclist I can confirm the importance of concentrating your weight on your sit bones. Old bicycle saddles didn't do that, instead spreading the weight over a wide surface and resulting in soreness and fatigue. My modern race bike has an ergonomic saddle that is compact and light, and is available in three widths so the rider can find the best match for their sit bones. I needed the widest one, and after I installed it, my riding comfort was transformed. My weight was supported by those two major bones, and not by my gluteal muscles, which were not designed for such use.
As I watched you video about office chairs, I became aware that indeed I was slouching into my $1,000 Aeron chair and using it to facilitate poor posture. I was thinking of ordering a saddle chair, but when you advised that any chair you can stand on will use your sit bones. Immediately I thought of an old piano bench that I use as a bedside tables. In my youth I took piano lessons, and if ever there was an activity that validates your recommendations, playing the piano is it. I used to practice for hours, and never did my back bother me.
So I rolled my Aeron to the other side of my office and brought in my piano bench. I am sitting on it now. And yes, my weight is on my site bones and I am sitting up straight. I'm going to give my piano bench a good long trial and see how my overall posture and energy level are affected. Thanks very much for your helpful video.
Pavan kalyan (Monday, 15 June 2020 17:44)
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