Frederik

Sitting and living on the floor

56 posts in this topic

Sitting and living on the floor

Maybe this is a bit out there, but anywhere here goes.

I was hoping that this might be a place to have a general discussion about sitting on the floor, or perhaps more specifically, from the perspective of someone who has spent most of his/her life sitting on chairs - and is having a poor posture, flexibility and mobility that goes along with that.

Modern research has recently highlighted the dangers of sitting.

Humans have not been using chairs until very recently, and at least not to the extent currently seen. Evolutionarily speaking humans will have been sitting on whatever was available rocks and what not - but, nothing that compares to modern (western) chair sitting for hours on end.

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I mostly do GST but also a fair amount of stretching, mobility and limbering - and this is powerful medicine to rehabilitate ROM and mobility and build superior strength - all of which address the problems with inactivity and sitting, but it still leaves the elephant in the room.

We still live in culture(s) where most of the time spent outside such activities will be in an environment that "pushes" chair sitting and general inactivity.

Personally: I have been playing with the idea for some time - There is also aesthetic element in that I find that by having less stuff eg. furniture my small rooms become more livable.

My question or points for discussion would be:


  • To what extent does it matter for general health? ie. chairs are being demonized while the problems are more inherently the problems with inactivity in and of itself.

  • To what extent does it affect flexibility and mobility? I see it as part of the continuum: Stretching: staring into the abyss - moving into new ROM - by limbering and doing mobility work we explore our new normal ROM. In this regard I would argue that floor living would make this a low-grade mobility exercise. Instead chair sitting does not enchance our health or athleticism.

  • Any ideas on implementing floor living? Have you done it?

Also, I remember reading a blogpost a while back on Marksdailyapple about some of this: LINK

Ideas?

regards,

Frederik

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Great topic! I've pretty much implemented this at my house. We have two chairs in our house: one about 4 inches high that my daughter plays with (mainly like a step-ladder) and another that spends most of its time folded next to the fridge - and this time functions mainly as a step-ladder for my vertically challenged wife.

Just like the getting rid of the TV and the addiction to News media, I thought it would be a big deal - but was not.. now, I must mentioned that I am reasonably flexible and mobile for an adult male human, so sitting and utilizing different ground-based postures is not a problem for me (in fact it is very comfortable). Removing chairs (mostly) and tables has been fantastic! There is so much more space in our place - which I use to do hand-balancing, rolling and other movement in ambiently whenever I am home.

IMHO, it is the degree of holding of one static posture for so long (and the fact that the hip flexors are in a shortened position) that is the problem.. that said, I find that sitting for long periods whilst driving or flying does not feel in the least bit healthy. Driving for over 2.5hrs I can feel my psoas start to contract; then start to influence the QL, and start to give pain. I normally have back pain post a 3hr drive, which is easily eliminated via a hip flexor stretch both sides. It also has to do with people lack of awareness whilst sitting. I can sit on a stool or zafu for long periods without too much problem via staying in a spinal balance that has a minimal of postural stress - also, I sit and move and strength train; etc. Having a supple, strong (enough) and aware body is buffering on sitting..to some degree.

We have a couch, for when people who are not mobile-flexible enough to sit on the floor come over...but I must say, most of my friends are into movement quite heavily and don't have a problem! I wouldn't mind getting a low Japanese style table to eat at.

I must say that one of the best things about getting rid of the chairs and tables is the more available play-space in the house.

Let's see what others think.

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my thoughts exactly, Dave. the nature of my job is spent driving to customers and even in a relatively small island(100mi. x 35mi.) you can still manage to spend anywhere from 10 min to 3hrs.

i recently started sitting on my desk chair(the desk in my room, the one i have upstairs is actually made out of a hollowed out Oakley display that we were going to toss out and i made it into a stand up desk. WIN) and especially working poses like

it's fun to do a few C-R's and then just chill while watching a movie or inputting orders.

as for changing the houses furniture, like switching tables out to more japanese style, that's a for sure win on my book(Molly[my puppy] would also have a seat at that table, what would be funny is how to manage her not eating everyone elses food :P)

I also like having the freedom of playing with molly inside the house when it's too hot outside and let me be honest, my mother absolutely rages when she sees molly laying on the couches/sofas. i think that just like animals, we need some open space to just lay on the ground, do hand balancing or even just walk in circles, if you're on the phone. :P i know those are the reasons i always end up out front in the driveway or out in the backyard. (actually, speaking of Molly, she commandeered one of my yoga mats as her bed and before that, i used to use it for all sorts of stretches + also sitting on the floor rolled up when i didnt feel like having the corners of my feet go numb from sitting cross legged on the polished cement floor.)

now that we're on the subject, where do you guys shop for the cushions used for sitting in this new situation? (be it for daily use like work at a computer, when you eat at the table or when you're meditating) it'd be cool to have a few additions to my wishlist to add to my place when I move out.

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Frederik has clearly thought this out well. I'm somewhat intrigued and don't know if there is an accurate answer. Just based on what I know I think less chairs is better, but you're right it is probably the inactivity and not the chair that is evil, though chairs no doubt are bad for our hip flexor mobility and glute activation. I think they are valid questions and it would be interesting to try it out. Likely to get much more bang for your buck just by walking places and not driving, and avoiding the chairs. I would wonder how the sleeping postures would change back mechanics, etc. Let's see what others have to say.

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Of course "the answer" will always be that it depends: On a persons age, build, flexibility, posture, will-power, circumstances etc. And while it is interesting to have an academic understanding of this question: physiology, sociology etc.

I think the first step is to hear what other people have done in this regard and their opinions and experiences.

I think some of the skepticism I implied in my question is valid, and the questions needs to be raised - But,if we just to start from the simple observation that humans are build to sit and move freely on the ground as fundamental movement options, and if this option is not available dysfunction could be an expected outcome.

My thinking is that for most people, as with most other things in life, an incremental or stepping stone approach is probably better. Having a bridge with intermediate stages between "chair" life and "floor" life ie. a fair amount strength work, stretching, mobility work is probably crucial to making it stick. Rather than trying to much at once and then failing alltogether.

I like very much what Dave was saying and I very much share this understanding - and it is the direction I am trying to move in myself.

My thinking as far as practical step in this direction would be to sit either directly on the floor or on some rugs and cushions. I think the obvious and easy way to implement this would be in looking towards cultures that have and still to some extent utilize floor sitting ie. most "third world" peoples.

Examples of what I have come across in my research:

  • Japanese style meditation: Zafu and Zabutons, also for inspiration see: zafu
  • Thai-style mattresses, see: amazon
  • Moroccan Floor Cushions: amazon
  • As for flooring - Heavy carpet or rugs, persian style comes to mind. Or japanese tatamis.

I find that this type of "furniture" is much less of offensive than the ugly and bulky western furniture. Also it is much less expensive and takes up almost no room. If one has some skill with sewing, it would be fairly easy to make some pillows and cushions in whatever fabric and style would be appropriate for a very reasonable price.

Great inputs so far!

regards,

Frederik

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Frederik - I love the list of cushions and supports. We have bolsters and cushions lying around. A couple of futons. We have carpet on cement..would love hardwood with some nice Persian rugs; or tatami!

I want, eventually, the only furniture to be bookcases; maybe a low Japanese style table and a lot of cushions, bolsters and futons. Having these for transitionary people makes sense to me.

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Apart from the postural aspects, think what sitting still is doing for the contents of the abdominal cavity. When moving around, the contents are continually being massaged (Ever had a barium meal live x-ray? The amount of movement that continually goes on in there without us being aware of it is amazing!). When you sit still, whether on a chair or the floor, the massaging stops. Assuming that we have evolved to have the contents of our abdomen massaged continually for 12 or more hours a day, reducing that number to one or two hours is quite a big change. It would not surprise me it this massive drop in internal abdominal movements was responsible for many of the ill effects of long sitting (cancers?? etc).

Jim.

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Yeah Jim; I like the visceral organ health perspective to this lifestyle change, too.

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Creatively dealing with chairs in the office and home (see my recent toilet post) has been occupying me both pre & post-workshop.

With my current level of flexibility there are already some really nice and different ways of sitting that I can rotate through the day. Scaling to where I am has been eye opening. I am allowing myself to move into different positions at work and play.

Maybe it's not about the chair. I am loving welcoming movement back in to my life.

We have moved towards minimalism in our house over the last couple of years & it is amazing. So many benefits.

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Nothing to add to all this great material except that I live completely without furniture during the four years I lived in Japan, and that I have had a furniture-less room in every house I have live in since then. Presently, this is our house Monkey Gym (also the studio where we shoot). I use a squat toilet I have blogged about (to much amusement!), too, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

And am currently I am working on all squat variations.

@ Jim: I had not thought of the abdominal massage aspects (but had thought about abdominal pressure re. the full squat position; it's gold, IMHO).

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Just thought I would add this picture. I was puzzling over buying a new table, but the answer was right there. I just lopped off the legs of the existing one. The mat there is a nice and squishy "Industrial Knee Pad". My mum said she wouldn't be coming over any more, but we will arrange some folding chairs and a table for guests.

We had trained up the little ones quite nicely for a normal height table/high chair set up, however it occurred to me that I was training a hardcore sitting habit. So the new found freedom that they are experiencing is an interesting experience! breath-relax. I wonder how floor based cultures deal with toddlerhood...

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This is an amazing topic, it opened my mind to new and important possibilities. Thank you all for the information.

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Edna wrote:

My mum said she wouldn't be coming over any more

A plus or a minus?

Just kidding; could not help myself! One of my favourite authors (Kinky Friedman, of

fame) writes of "house pests" where others would say 'house guests'. Can't help feeling he got that more right than wrong!

I will say that getting rid of tables and chairs will cut down the self-invitations to dinner quite a bit, very likely!

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haha I had an excellent time with my mum this week.

She said "you are moving like an 80 year old". Massive win, even if she meant it differently to how I heard it.

She is an aged care nurse. She told us of how she regularly rings relatives of her patients up when they are just about to die. Quite often they don't want to come, are very reluctant or simply don't ever come.

"There WON'T BE a tomorrow."

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"There WON'T BE a tomorrow."

This is related to the core idea of Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now". In fact, the closer you look, you see that there IS only now, but the mind lives behind (the 'past'), or ahead (the 'future) of the curve, very often.

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There is no problem, as far as I can see, with toddlerhood and floor based lifestyle - in fact I find it works very well. My daughter (2yrs in a week) can sit with a completely upright spine from full tailor pose as if nothing is happening (I am working on this ability, too...not there yet!). She does have a little 'table', which is actually a foot-stool of ours.

For some reason she likes sitting at that little table to eat sometimes.. I bought her a tiny little chair for this purpose. She sits in a chair for about ~10 minutes a day, and is otherwise moving about or on the floor. The main use of the little chair appears to be to assist her in getting things we've put up high (out of her normal reach). She pretty much moves non-stop, so there doesn't seem to be a problem with no chairs... I am actually wondering if her 'above average' movement is because we don't confine her in a chair..

We have a number of bolsters; futons; mattresses and a 'Dino-fun mat' (Industrial knee pad with dinosaurs on it) laying around; and Soph constantly rolls/jumps/tumbles onto them - it's hilarious and also great to see a little human being exploring movement freely.

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What happened to edna? Just kidding :)

Generally, I think it's a great idea to use one's real name; I don't want to get OT here, but I see a trend on this Forum, and I like it.

Living on the floor will change the way your hips move; I am sure this is why I can sit in the Burmese position for a long time completely comfortably.

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I've been thinking of this for about 6months.

My wife and I used to live this way in university...because we were poor and food seemed like a better investment then a sofa. For a while we didn't even have a bed, just quilts on the floor.

I mentioned it to my wife yesterday and nearly got a smack upside the head...not because she is opposed to living on the floor...but because I'm so "Tofu" taste like whatever I'm cooked with...and change directions constantly.

And we just bought new sofas <1year ago ;)

My reply was our "health is priceless" and we should not be concerned with past choices and sunk costs...to which I did get a loving counting coup upside the head.

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Lol. I am in the process of convincing me wife we need to sell the last large piece of furniture in our Living room (thus making it a "Living Room"!). It's a giant brown leather couch - so big it has had a number of guests use it as a bed. It is very difficult to more, and besides freeing up the living room, it would also make our lifestyle more agile (as I can move everything else in the house myself, with our car).

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..you see; CLM is not just a bodymind attainment, but a whole way of living. Agility, adaptability and creativity across all levels. ;)

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I am seriously working up to replacing the sofa with stall bars. I mean, the kids current favourite activity is to perch atop the sofas anyway, might as well let them get to the ceiling.

The sofa is good for back bends and perching on the handles though. Did this last night for the first time. Many other options for perching and backbends abound elsewhere...

I need some hammock hooks inside as well for chilling out. Hammock & stall bars - how good would that be??

We had my in-laws over last night for dinner. Was enjoyable watching the adjustment to dining on the floor.

Adam you don't strike me as tofu, much more meaty than that. Like a beefy casserole?

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I totally wrote an article on this just recently: http://awarerelaxedconnected.com.au/basic-unsupported-resting-positions/

Some things I do: squatting on chairs, eat dinner at a coffee table, stretch while watching movies.

I'll be making my own squatty potty soon. I've tries to go for a group d bed but the better half won't have any of that haha. We have a sofa and 2 bar stools in our house. I use the sofa for sleeping mainly haha

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Adam you don't strike me as tofu, much more meaty than that. Like a beefy casserole?

Just that I keep coming home from some workshop or finishing reading a book or article or something...and the direction of the ship (me and my life) changes...sometimes forever...sometimes for 15min.

And I get hyperfocused...so my poor wife has had to listen to go on about stretching, kit, the workshop contents etc for 3 weeks now...but she had to endure the same thing after Ido and many other events in our lives.

And for a small moment, I throw out everything else I know and embrace things deeply...then stuff will creep back...the best stuff.

So this month I was cooked with ST & Kit. Yum!

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I serve my research with a side of 'cultivating selective ignorance' to channel resources.

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I find that in order to see if something is real (especially if it is a radical divergence in you beliefs)...you have to suspend your current perspective and whole heartly embrace...with no reservations (as much as is possible).

You will then know if it is real/works etc.

If you don't suspend your current paradigm it will always hinge/tether your experience to your current understanding.

Andrew and his SLS is a perfect example. Believe and if it is real...it will work...don't believe...it will never work...believe and it doesn't work? Then it is bullshit!

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