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Schlumpasana or...

…are cats just liquid? I think likely liquid however,

I took this photo of one of our nine month old kittens. Her name is Kali, yes, like the goddess. She is normally much more regal in her posture than this. One morning I turned around to find her "sitting" like this. Looking less like a goddess and more like a little old man named Norman sitting on a couch. Except her couch is invisible because there is visible sign of spinal support. She is doing the feline version of Schlumpasana.

Schlumpasana is a commonly practiced posture. It's versatile and can be practiced sitting or standing. I find it is most often practiced off the mat. Working at a desk or computer, eating, waiting in line, watching television or reading a book. Schlumpasana is the one pose I universally recommend students never practice. And if they find themselves in this pose, please come out immediately. Why is that? Because it is the worst. pose. ever. when either sitting or standing. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • First: The shoulders come forward, caving the chest in and rounding the upper back. This compresses your lungs so you can't breathe efficiently or entirely.

  • Second: Your spine can move into chronic flexion. The same muscles are continually contracted in the front body and stretched in the back body. As a result back muscles are lengthened and weakened and the abdominals are shortened, tightened and weakened. It also increases pressure on the front of the spinal disks.

  • Third: Your internal organs are being squished.

  • Fourth: Your head and neck slide tend to slide forward. With the movement your head is no longer sitting directly on top of the spine. As a result, the neck muscles have to hold seven pounds of cantilevered bone and brain up against the force of gravity, instead of balancing the weight of your head on the neck bones as designed. Is it any wonder why your neck hurts?

  • Fifth: When sitting in a chair in Schlumpasana, all your weight channels down to your tail bone. The coccyx is a very fragile bone that can be easily bruised or worse, broken.

  • Sixth: Vanity appeal.  You just look terrible when you do it.

Here are a couple of things that you can try right away. Most importantly, it will create awareness around current postural habits which can leade to healthier posture.

  • When sitting or standing, keep the feet parallel and hip width or just wider than hip width. Parallel means the heels are a little further apart than the toes. This tiny adjustment ensures that the internal/external rotators of the thighs and hips are working equally.

  • Check in on your pelvis occasionally. Are you tilting forward or back at all? Bring it to level. Think of your pelvis like a bowl with hot soup in it. You don't want to spill too much soup out the back or front. This will help keep your lower back (lumbar spine specifically) in it's natural curve.

  • Do you have a tendency to throw a hip left or right when standing still? Quit it. Now. This will help your keep your lower back balanced by not elevating or depressing one side of the pelvis all the time. Better for the hip joint and lower back.UNcross your legs while sitting. This keeps the pelvis level and...

  • ...don't always lean into one armrest (if you have armrests on your chair). I tended to be a left-leaner. This created a slight rotation to the right so my sternum and bellybutton were slightly misaligned. I had to un-learn this posture and work on my spinal rotation. I now use a height adjusting stool. No leaning.

  • Is your desk/computer position correct? If not, correct it. I started to use two yoga blocks under my desk so my feet can reach the "floor" instead of being in continual "Barbie foot" resting on the chair legs.

  • Practice Tadasana in the grocery store, or any store, while waiting to check out. 

I'm a big believer in basics.  If you start in a properly aligned and supported place, you can move on to a myriad of other activities without difficulty. The above are, of course, only suggestions. Your body is unique in it's needs so be sure to honor those needs.

However, if you know someone who practices schlumpasana often, have a postural intervention. Friends don't let friends shlump.

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