— Or “Give You Fits”?
Much “to-do” is made in mattress ads about finding the “right” mattress for health reasons. When was the last time you gave much thought to your chairs/sofa? Do they really “fit” you — or do you attempt to make yourself “fit into” the furniture, choice being primarily motivated by “style”/color/price? In other words, does your shoe fit your foot — or do you try to make your foot fit the shoe? Even notice that if a child is comfortable he “squirms” less? That’s “body honesty”. I think we as adults have brainwashed ourselves into not listening when our bodies try to say “This chair is bad for me” and we suffer along even if it is damaging to our bodies. When it comes to the point of “real pain” we might do something about it, but until then …
Ever notice that in photos of the old masters sitting, they are almost like “peas in a pod”? This “Emperor’s Position” is more than “the way one traditionally sits for photos”. It is very “biomechanically friendly” to the human body. The head and spine are held erect. Hands rest on knees, thighs are parallel to the floor. Shin bones are perpendicular to the floor, with knee pretty much over heel. If you look at this spine/thigh configuration from the side, what do you see? The geometrically stable configuration of a right-angle triangle (even though the hypotenuse formed by the arm is not totally straight there is still the “energy flow” from shoulder to knee). And when you look at the thigh/knee/shin configuration — two sides of another right-angle triangle. Everything is “balanced” & “in line”, with very little need for any muscular holding of the skeleton. Muscles aren’t being “mashed” and having circulation impeded because they are flopped & leaning against over-cushioned furniture, bones aren’t being pushed around out of place. Once you become accustomed to this position, you can actually “crave” it. I prefer to bring one of my wooden kitchen chairs into the den to watch TV. I think the reason we dislike sitting on firm furniture is we simply haven’t learned how to sit on it correctly, plus “soft” and “cuddly” has definite positive emotional connotations to us, like being “hugged”.
When you buy new furniture, you might want to keep the above in mind. If you are determined that you want to be able to rest your back against the furniture, make sure the back gets support. Don’t get a “cloud” that you collapse into in a “fashionable slump”. Then look at length of seat cushion — can you achieve the restful thigh/knee/shin right-angle together with the spine/thigh angle, or are your feet “pushed out” with your upper calves being squashed against the front of the seat cushion? Propping the feet up on an ottoman to solve this results in gravity pulling backwards at the knee joint, not a good thing. If you are determined to use the arms on your furniture, make sure they are not so high that they shove your shoulders toward your ears. Also, make sure the chair isn’t so wide that when you rest your arms you look like a chicken flapping its wings.
The chair you sit in today won’t be exactly the same chair 2 days, 2 months, 2 years from now. The more soft padding you have and the cheaper quality, the more accentuated the change. My Grandpa used to have “his” chair, Grandma had “hers”. They were very different in size, and both relatively “hard”. Even when they changed some of the other furniture, those chairs stayed. I never understood that as a child — today I do.
Kris Kovach is a student of T’ai Chi and lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. She never fails to bring a unique view point when confirming the special lessons for life mined from martial studies.