Have you ever tried to hack a solution to your sitting challenges? We love hearing about them. Kathy Pickerel explored enough alternatives to see that the Soul Seat was just what she was looking for. In this interview you’ll hear her echoing what others before her have reported; less pain, improved focus and that she’s not alone in her preference for sitting with knees up. As a pediatric nurse working on her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (D.H.T.) Kathy’s able to articulate why this “fetal position” pose may be so popular. Along with with helping you lean into your work, it could be reducing your anxiety as well.
Kathy recently spoke with me, over the phone from her home in North Carolina where she’s been using her Soul Seat since November of 2016.
Pack: How does the Soul Seat fit into your day?
Kathy: I spend long hours at my desk at home doing homework, writing papers, writing emails.I expected to be more comfortable while working, but one of the things I didn’t expect to happen with the Soul Seat was that I also stopped getting all the neck pain I used to have. I would have these neck spasms all the time. I’d always have a heating pad on my neck. I stopped getting those when I switched to the Soul Seat and I have not had that in months!
Part of it is I think, because it swivels and I have a lot of maneuverability so I’m always facing forward versus turning my head to the side, not straining one side or the other side. And then the other part is being able to adjust the height of it, getting incredibly comfortable while I’m sitting in it.
P: That’s wonderful to hear.
K: Yeah, I love it, love love love it. I love the chair. My daughter is always fighting me to sit in the butterfly chair. She calls it the butterfly chair because of the shape of the lower cushion.
P: Yes, it does look like a butterfly doesn’t it? I’m curious about the research you said you did looking for a chair that would allow you to sit cross-legged?
K: I can’t remember the names of all of them. There was one that had a back on it. It looked like it took a lot to adjust it. The platform was such that you could sit cross-legged. I think it was the Sukhasana chair. It had wings on the side that adjust up and down, and you adjust the back. There were several adjustments just to be able to sit cross-legged style. It was very expensive and seemed like a whole lot of moving parts to only be able to sit in one position. I also felt the chair was ugly.
And there’s another seat out there made for you to sit on the floor, so you can sit in a cross-legged position on the floor, then you would almost be working off of a coffee table. Again that wouldn’t provide me with the variety of postures that the Soul Seat provides me with. I can’t remember the cost of that chair, but I remember it being a lot! Though there are definitely areas of my house where I’m willing to work on the floor.
I wasn’t only interested in sitting cross-legged though. I actually do my best when I’m sitting in more of a fetal position, where I have my knees up against me and I’m leaning forward. It’s a really comfortable position for me.
P: Yes, that’s a really popular posture among Soul Seaters. Your feet are on the lower platform?
K: Yeah. Yeah, and so I’m in a position where I can just lean right over my knees and I don’t have any back pain, and I’m not being forced to contort to the shape of a chair. That’s naturally how I sit with my knees up and leaning over my knees, which puts me right at head level of my computer monitor.
With the Soul Seat, I’ve got several options. So, If I want to sit with my knees up, I put the top cushion all the way up, and then If I want to sit cross-legged, It’s just a pin that I pull, the Perch goes down and I’m adjusted right into my perfect position. And the lower cushion is plenty wide for my body and my body shape. I’m six foot two inches. Sometimes I have one leg up and one leg down, Sometime I have one tucked underneath me, and one leg up, you know there are so many ways that you can sit on it. Sometimes I’m even sitting on the lower platform and kind of splayed over the top cushion. Depending on how long a paper is, I'm likely to spend anywhere from eight to twenty four hours, being relatively sedentary. But with the Soul Seat I have the ability to continually move my position to where I’m constantly comfortable, where before I was sitting in a traditional desk chair and I always felt like something was punching me right through the buns and up the back, you know?
P: Oh, I know the feeling exactly.
K: I’d have to take breaks because I could not sit longer. Now I take breaks because sometimes my brain is starting to wander off. Now I can sit here all day.
P: The Soul Seat has moved your “bottleneck” up to the brain. That’s good.
P: Once you finish your degree, do you imagine you’ll be changing the way you work? Will you be teaching? How will the Soul Seat fit into that?
K: I’ll have my own office once I finish my degree. I’ll take my Soul Seat with me!
It’ll be coming to work with me. I’m very impressed with its quality. And you had told me before that the upholsterer does a fantastic job, I was very impressed when I unpacked it in its pieces. The other thing that impressed me was putting it together. I’m semi handy with tools and it’s just my daughter and myself so I can figure out some basic stuff, but I was a little nervous cause I was like, “what if I’m not able to put this together?” I had it together in five minutes. It was so easy. The directions were easy to read.
P: Oh good!
K: The vinyl upholstery is so nice. It’s very beautiful, it wipes clean very easily if my daughter’s over here eating cheerios on it. I know the Soul Seat is even more beautiful with the wooden legs, but I really needed the rolling wheels. I would love to have another one with a wooden base, say in my living room for TV viewing. Being in my study where I’m moving back and forth and grabbing books and all that stuff, the rolling wheels are really nice.
P: Has anyone else seen the Soul Seat other than your daughter?
K:Oh Yeah! My fiance. He knows its my chair.
P: You made the decision for the soul Seat without a chance to see it. A lot of folks have to sit on one before they can understand this new way of thinking about comfort. You managed to make that decision without ever having sat on one. Most people think it’s going to be uncomfortable when they first set eyes on the Soul Seat.
K: Oh Yeah,
P: Could you describe how you came to choose the Soul Seat?
K: There were some videos on YouTube. I watched people actually sitting on the chair, and I thought, “That’s exactly what I’m looking for!”
P: Were you already trying to sit that way in regular chairs?
K: Yeah. I was already trying to sit cross-legged, and with one leg up and one leg down, and two feet up. And as big as I am I figured I needed a larger seated platform. So I went onto some blogs where folks recommended buying a larger seated chair and remove the arms so that you could put your legs up. But being a nurse, that didn’t make any ergonomic sense to me. That’s not how those chairs are made. They’re designed for your butt to tilt back and the seat is rounded up at the front, the whole ergonomics of standard seating. That just didn’t make any sense. I thought that was bad advice.
P: Do you miss having arms or a back on your chair at all?
K: No, No. I don’t use the back of chair when I sit in chairs anyway. People always comment on that. Like when I’m sitting in a couch or whatever, people always seem to comment on the fact that I’m not using the back of the chair. They say, “you can relax”. I am relaxed. This is how I like to sit. I naturally like to lean forward when I sit, because it supports your upper body and puts you in your chill zone. Everything’s relaxed, I’m not half asleep and I can use my brain to focus. I’m not distracted by things like, “Oh, I feel so sore, sitting in this chair”.
P: So your favorite position on the Soul Seat is feet down on the lower cushion with your knees up.
K: Yes. If I start to get tired, folding my feet behind in “Heroe’s” pose is usually my second favorite.
I have trouble with focusing. The other thing I like about the Soul Seat is how it helps me focus. And I have an anxiety disorder, which is why the fetal position with my knees up is the most comfortable for me. That position reduces your anxiety. I don’t know if you knew that. It’s actually a position encouraged by my therapist, so that’s why I started looking for a chair that would let me sit in multiple different ways. The other thing I do is, I put a weighted pillow on my lap. It reduces anxiety really well. It keeps my anxiety really low so I can focus on my papers.
Another thing I like is that when I’m not at my desk, I can turn it sideways and slip it under and out of the way, so it’s not out in the middle of my room.
P: What’s your daughter's favorite posture?
K: Well she’s six so she likes to spin.
P: Of course! Is there anything else you'd like to share as we wrap up?
K: I think it’s an excellent value, and the scheduled payment plan makes it an easy purchase now. The quality is there. It’s much better quality than any other desk chair in my house.
The other part I would like to stress is to encourage folks to invest in an independently owned company. You get someone who is passionate about that product. And I love supporting other people’s passions. It’s like why I buy something handmade off of Etsy, it’s rarely a piece of crap. I’m really disappointed with bad quality when people are part of producing something that’s just been whizzing down a production line at 100 miles an hour that’s not their passion.
When I get to deal with you directly, if there’s a tear in my seat you’re gonna be, “no, no, this is my passion, we’re gonna try to fix your product.” I had very few worries about what the quality would be.
P: I’m glad the passion comes through. I appreciate that. Thankyou.