If you want to enjoy a lifetime of comfort and mobility in your body, it’s time to revisit something you do every day – sit down and stand up.
As most people age, a common complaint is the loss of mobility. Pain, stiffness and popping can increase in the joints, especially in the hips, the important connection between the upper and lower parts of the body.
But this doesn’t have to be destiny. In fact, your body can actually improve with age. The key is maintaining proper balance of strength and flexibility in your muscles and bones, especially your hip joints.
Pain and stiffness form in the hips from lack of lubrication in the diet, walking on concrete, accumulation of toxins and years of poor alignment when sitting and walking. But no matter what your age, you can reverse this. Each time you sit down and stand up you have an opportunity to use your hips in the way they were designed and train them into balance.
Sitting is something that we just “do,” often without thought. But the next time you take a seat, take notice of your alignment. Are you leaning into a chair, favoring one side of your body over another? Are you plopping into your seat? Do you experience pain or discomfort or hold your breath when you sit down or stand back up? If so, it’s time to bring in this simple sit down/stand up exercise to realign and strengthen your hips.
The sit down/stand up practice is especially wonderful because it also supports proper foot alignment, that is, with your second toe pointing straight ahead. Many people are accustomed to walking with their feet turned out, and though it may feel more comfortable, this foot position actually causes significant instability in your body, making you more prone to falling (if you don’t think that’s true, ask a friend to gently push you as you stand with your feet turned out and then again with your feet facing forward).
Everything you do has an impact somewhere else in your body; proper foot alignment supports hip and knee alignment, which supports pelvic alignment, which stabilizes your spine, making you more agile and able throughout your entire life. Who knew so much good could come from re-learning how to sit?
Try this sit down/stand up exercise as part of your regular asana practice and you’ll quickly begin to see a difference in the strength and flexibility of your hips, changes that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Sit down/stand up from the ground up
One of the reasons we like this pose so much is that it is easily modified for any starting point. Start with a chair, then move to a stable stack of blankets and eventually move to lower cushions or the floor.
Common trouble spots