There is one item of furniture that causes fear and consternation within the Alexander world. Students struggle with it. Teachers are troubled by it.
This is it:
Look at those soft cushions, the deep seat, the squashy backrest, the enticing armrest. It invites you to slump. It encourages you to curl up. It positively begs you to flop. How can a good Alexander student possibly sit straight and upright in something like that? How can you maintain the slightly forward angle of the pelvis, and the extended ‘S’ of the spine?
In fact, the dilemma is so great that some students begin to feel guilty when they sit in one. Or worse, to avoid using their sofa(*) altogether. Which makes life a bit awkward.
It could be time to call on an important part of FM Alexander’s plan(†) for dealing with any sort of movement, sitting on the sofa included:-
“Analyze the conditions of use present”
“Reason out the means whereby a more satisfactory use could be brought about”
Normally in any sort of lesson involving sitting, you use a hard, dining-room sort of chair. In which case, sitting with the “S” spine is a great strategy. However, in a sofa, the conditions of use are entirely different. It sags. It forces you to tilt your pelvis and lower spine backwards. You need a different strategy.
So here’s a question. Why not curl up when you sit in a sofa?
No reason at all.
It’s not the curling, sagging or slumping that’s the problem. It’s how you go about it.
If you push your legs down, lock your waist backwards, force your chest forwards and poke your chin down and out, then you will undoubtedly be putting a lot of extra stress and strain on your spine. But what if you allow your pelvis and spine to mould themselves to the curves of those squashy cushions, without adding in any unnecessary muscle tension? Then you can be comfortable, freely and easily, on as many sofas as you want.
(*)or settee or couch
(†) The Use of the Self, IRDEAT edition p.423.