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How often does your skeleton come in for a landing?

floorview I find myself tracing the “flight paths” of people’s skeletons. I know, it’s odd.  I tend to notice the corridor where our pelvi move through space most of the time, and I reckon we inhabit a narrow vertical range of between 17 and 35 inches with small variations due to our height.  We who spend a lot of time in chairs and cars, and sleep on mattresses with box springs rarely come to a full landing on the ground.  We’re lucky if we have young ones who call us to the floor for an hour of Lego therapy, coloring book group, or a board game retreat. How many grandparents do you know who think they are no longer able to join their grandkids on the floor? If we’re not mindful of this default path, we can become locked into this narrow range. My mother certainly is. She traveled through her 60’s, 70’s and now her 80’s in a very different way than her ancestors, or her peers in other parts of the world. Her pelvis now can never drop below the 18 inch altitude safely. This status also comes with the ignoble label of “Fall Risk”.  Living on stilts during our last decades is not inevitable for human beings, but we’ve created a way of life that incrementally, through thousands of seemingly inconsequential choices, can deliver us permanently to a flight range of fewer choices, less independence. I was contemplating these things recently as my daughter Hannah and I drove to Kansas City to catch a flight. We were on our way to join family for my father-in-law’s memorial service in Florida, I thought about our daily glide paths, how the range of this up and down path of our skeletons can have outsized effects on end of life choices.  For most of our travel, Hannah and my pelvises were traveling at the same altitude as everyone else's, zipping along I-70  then walking to our gate.  Once through security though, our hips followed a slightly different trajectory than those around us.  We found a spot on the floor wtih a...
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A few Floor Culture gift ideas for One of A Kind Mothers

Imagine the iconic image of Mother’s Days gone by, the children deliver breakfast in bed to an adoring mother.  You can see past the proud children through the bedroom door to the totally trashed kitchen.  You somehow know that the vacation from motherhood would last only until she entered the kitchen. Here at Health By Design, we’ve got suggestions to make Mother’s day a truly unique year for giving.  Because your mother is one of a kind, here are gift ideas that say "We want you healthy and vibrant for many more years."   Let’s start with that bed tray you deliver her breakfast on.  Had you considered showing her how she can repurpose it as a floor desk so she can read her favorite book while you clean up the kitchen?  We like the one featured in the photo and is available here for several reasons. The height is adjustable, it's made of bamboo, and one side has no lip.  It's light enough to double as a stand-up desk if placed on a table or counter. A book idea that can give Mom a lifetime of freedom and relief from debilitating pain is by one of our favorite movement specialists, Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement.  You can purchase her book, Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief, here. If you build Mom a shoe cubby and promise to always leave shoes at the door, you make choosing the floor that much more inviting and make less cleaning effort for the entire family.  There are so many styles and sizes to choose from. Consider how it fits with your home decor and space if it will be near the front door. Does it provide an inviting place to sit and remove shoes and lace up boots?  Consider building or purchasing a low table for the TV.  Our family makes movie time, stretching time.  When we're enjoying our favorite shows from the floor, we tend to munch less, move more, and it's easier to resist binge watching.  When we get up we feel great! If TV isn't your thing, puzzles and board games are...
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Forced to Choose Between Weird Sleep Solutions.

iStock 501484306     My lungs felt like they were going to burst as I clawed my way toward the light above. The urge to breath was overwhelming, but until I broke the surface I knew it would be certain death.  Why wasn't the light getting any closer?  Just as I resigned myself to this watery death, mercifully, I woke up. I was gasping and drenched in sweat as I was released from this nightmare for the second time in a month.  Looking around with gratitude at being alive, my wife Rebecca sleeping soundly beside me, I noticed that the clerestory windows above our bed set the depth of my drowning.   I started connecting the dots to my dry throat in the morning, snorking awake in meditation as my soft palate collapsed, the daily grogginess.  I had heard from friends about the solutions they had found, from tape on the nose to dental devices to CPAC machines they lugged on trips to hum beside them on the hotel night stand.  Having thoroughly worked myself into a waking nightmare, I was determined to delay this future, but how?   How can a hard pallete be the answer to a soft one? I remember my first snork, lying in corpse pose at the end of a yoga class years ago.  This was a class I was teaching so I wasn’t even dropping into deep meditation, when suddenly a loud snork  jolted me out of the zone.  It was me.  My soft palate had collapsed, stopping my slow breath.  “Welcome to middle age” I thought.  Around the same time I had noticed I could fully relax while face down on a massage table, no snork.  What if I could train myself to sleep on my stomach?  Babies do it, toddlers do it.     My first few efforts were not successful. I merely started the night’s sleep on my stomach. Thank goodness I was exhausted enough to actually fall asleep before my arms followed suit.  If I wasn’t woken up by numb hands and arms,  I would wake up on my side or back.  My...
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Soul Seat vs. The Floor

Is it the floor, the desk or both? I've often said that the Soul Seat isn't to be compared with any other chair, that our only real competition is the floor.  This photo of Taranta's take on the modern office illustrates what can be accomplished now that our tools have become un-tethered.   I was reminded that this isn't an exaggeration during an email conversation with one of our most recent customers.   While waiting for her Soul Seat to arrive, she sent us several questions relating to the various yoga postures the Soul Seat could accommodate.   She was also curious about specific Soul Seat dimensions, how low does the "Perch" (the small cushion) go?  And can it be removed completely if need be? I was beginning to wonder if the Soul Seat would fit her needs, when she related that until recently, she was able to do all her office work on the floor.  With her new job in a county mental health department, she had to work at a desk and she wanted to know how many of her favorite floor postures she could take with her to this new setting. Here she was, asking the very same questions we asked in developing the first Soul Seat prototypes;  "How much of the yoga mat experience can we bring up to desktop height?"  The Soul Seat was being compared by this customer with nothing other than the floor itself.  Nothing can compete with the floor to provide all the leverage and angles you need to keep the deep structure of the pelvis and legs healthy and vital.  A Yogini customer such as she knew this from experience. Because of recent technological developments, most of our work here in the developed world can follow us anywhere  we can find access to our wireless networks.  That means most floor spaces.   The functional boundaries of "office"  and "desk" have literally exploded.  It's time for our work habits to follow suit and take advantage of this new reality.  For me, most of my time spent interacting with my computer (including writing this blog) is accomplished sitting on the floor with...
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Interview with Berkley Hudson

It was a sunny, unusually cool summer day when I arrived at the University of Missouri for my interview with Berkley Hudson.  Berkley became the first of his colleagues to acquire a Soul Seat about six months ago and I was eager to get his feedback.    His mild demeanor belies a life of extraordinary experiences and friendships with remarkable people most of us know only as celebrities.    As an associate professor at the world renowned Missouri School of Journalism, his research has focused on media representation of racial conflict and narrative journalism, documentary photography, literary journalism, American media history, visual studies, narrative and storytelling. His freelance writing can be found in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Mother Jones, Hemispheres and Historic Preservation.  For the last year and a half he’s also been the editor of Visual Communication Quarterly.  I was welcomed into his office where he stayed comfortably seated on his leather bound Soul Seat for the duration of our chat.  Books line the walls, close to 900 he estimates.  The space not taken up by books is filled with examples of his passion for photojournalism.  He gave me a verbal tour of this mini-gallery.  Berkley:  I have provocative photographs in here in terms of the content. There's a funeral in Eastern Europe, a girl from Nigeria, over there we've got chickens from Mississippi, and a Buddhist monk living in a trailer in Boone County, MO, and Martin Luther King Jr. after Medgar Evers’ funeral in Mississippi.  Over there is Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda in the Philippines, the woman who collected shoes - that certainly couldn’t have helped her posture.  Then we’ve got rabbit hunters in Mississippi with shotguns and dead rabbits, photographed by Birney Imes.  And there are juke joint dancers, and a photo of my father’s service station, and sitting there on the bookshelf is a thumb piano.  Over there is a photo of me walking, with snowshoes, across snow-covered lake in Maine.  There’s me in a mountain creek outside of Los Angeles.  I’m in the creek dancing through it.  I’ve got two pictures up there from the New Orleans Jazz Festival,...
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Is the meaning of "Ergonomic" evolving?

Ever notice how toddlers make the transition from standing to sitting on their tush?  It's one fluid kerplunk.  Their spine remains straight and upright, in the same orientation to gravity as when they stood.  They simply transfer the upper body's weight from their feet to their sits bones.  Thank goodness the distance they have for making a landing is so short.  As adults we can approximate this move by dropping into a squat before easing through the last few inches.  Hopefully it will be years before I'm wearing Depends for padding as well. Most of us can't imagine making such a quick transition from standing to sitting without bruises.   However, we see graceful adult variations all the time demonstrated by dancers, gymnasts, Judo masters and the like.  Here's a fun commercial that plays with the notion of toddler as master compared to our adult limitations and inflexibility.  Why are toddlers so far ahead of us on this score? You could say that toddlers simply haven't had the time or opportunity we've had to move out of right relation with the floor.   Regular readers of this blog know where my bias is.  I believe most of us in the West took a wrong turn when our schooling moved us from the kindergarten story rug to the desk to begin our training to be dutiful knowledge workers.  Until the last decade or so, there didn't seem to be any alternative to educating our bodies and minds in this way.  I used to think I was alone in claiming that wireless technologies obliterate any excuse for not putting our physical health first and make our work tools accommodate that.  Thanks to the new meme of "Sitting is the new smoking" we at Soul Seat are getting some company. I've seen this phrase on several sites beyond just the community of cutting edge ergonomists.  It is; "The best position is the next position."  This is an acknowledgement that the images you'll find all over the web associated with the term "ergonomic" (like this one) are misleading at best.  This old paradigm implies a static...
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Video Testimonials for Soul Seat.

Here is a few of the video testimonials for Soul Seat so all in one place.
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A school in Massachussetts that gets it!

Thanks goes out to Alena, a fan of Soul Seat's page on Facebook.  Today she shared the link below about a Waldorf School in MA.  They are a fine example of just what we're after here at Soul Seat. http://www.pinehill.org/Grades18/TheMovableClassroom/tabid/409/Default.aspx At Soul seat we keep asking the question, "How can we redesign our built environment to promote and preserve healthy behavior rather than degrade it?" At this school they've made the connection between how their students sit and their health.  
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