Have you noticed how babies and small children sit with a straight back? And have you noticed how hardly any adults do?
Relearning how to straighten your back can have such a brilliant and immediate effect on your posture. And that in turn will help get rid of any lower back aches you might have.
Life can be busy, especially with little ones to care for. And when life is hectic, just sitting for a moment can be a pleasure in itself. So the last thing on your mind might be paying attention to how you are sitting. Maybe the last time you did it was in pregnancy, when just finding a comfortable position was the best you could hope for?
But stopping yourself from slouching, and learning to sit with a straight back is so worth the effort.
Your spine and neck should be stacked up like a set of building blocks
How? Let’s start at the bottom: sitting on your bottom is the first step to getting a straight back. In my yoga class I often ask students to sit down and scoop away the fleshy bits of their bottom cheeks. That sounds odd, I know. But try it, until you can feel you’re sitting on your ‘sit bones’.
Then straighten your spine as if you were stacking each vertebrae on top of the one below. Reach round and feel your back – does it feel straight?
The final touch is to check your neck is following the line of your spine. Again, the idea is the bones in your neck are also stacked on top of each other, so the whole of your spine and neck should align like a tower of building blocks.
Now everything is in alignment, see how long you can hold it for. It’ll be hard to start with, and you might find you have to work your tummy and back muscles. But with practice you’ll be able to sustain a straight back for longer and longer.
Another tip, to make sitting like this more comfortable, is to sit on the edge of something.
In a yoga studio there are usually blocks or bricks you can use. At home, a blanket, book or towel will work just as well. You need to sit near the edge of the object and move yourself forward slightly so just the edge of the object is under your bottom.
My son is at the age when I’m supervising his sitting and playing on a baby mat. It’s a good opportunity to sit behind him, and straighten my back when I do. It’s something you can try whenever you get a moment – either when looking after your children, or after they’ve gone to bed. Even sitting up straight for five minutes a day will help.
In the long term, it should improve your posture and minimise back ache.