Home without a couch
A place that makes you active …
The active interior and the change of body positions in everyday life fascinated me already in design lessons. At that time, this topic was mostly related to various positions at work and during learning, because we spend a lot of time with these activities. In the current pandemic situation, many people have stayed at home and they have moved their work or school to the dining table and couch. We should take advantage of this situation that we are at home and no one forces us to remain in a static position!
From my own experience at the almost 6-year “home office” (3 children and non-stop larger or smaller attempts at my own self-realization), I realize that I also perform most of my “work” activities while sitting.
In this article, I focus on the importance of movement in our daily lives, different body positions at work or during learning, existing approaches in the world with links and, in particular, I share our own experience of life without a couch in living room. In the end, you will find tips on how to start moving in your own apartment. This article is just a small portion of an extensive topic about active home and natural movement in daily activities. If you are interested and want to know more, write us a comment and we can gradually dive into more details together.
Changing body positions
First of all, it is important to remember that the basic manifestation of the life of every being is the movement. The intensity and type of movement we perform during the day has an impact on the posture but also on the overall health of a person. It is natural that in positions which limit our ability to move for a long time, we feel uncomfortable and our limbs suffer.
When looking at children’s play, we can see that a child is constantly moving, getting up, sitting, stepping on toys or crawling into small spaces. Even when really concentrating on something it does not stand still longer than 5 minutes without moving. An exception could be found in the “paralysis” of mobile devices, videos or games, and this is one of the aspects that a parent should consider when providing these activities to their children.
At school, children come into a conflict with common perception of society about a suitable position for learning. Nevertheless, the need for movement is so strong that rocking on chairs, putting feet up on tables, or other “disturbing activities” are part of every shool course. Fortunately, society is moving forward also in this area, and many educational institutions allow students to take different positions in learning.
The system of static positions is usually so successful that until we get to work, we are taught to sit and look at the computer, or to spend hours in another position without much movement. After coming home, we are usually so tired that we lie down or sit on the couch to rest. Of course, there is still many types of dynamic work – postmen, cleaners, foresters, cooks … and they should really relax at home with their legs outstretched.
It would be necessary to write a completely separate article about individual positions, as each position has its pros and cons, and our body behaves differently in them. The information for the following descriptions was partly selected from the book “Comfort in the Microenvironment” by Veronika Kotradyová, who described the topic of Somatic Comfort and Variation of Body Positions on 50 pages.
Image source: pinterest.com
Standing – has been very popular in recent years, mainly thanks to greater availability of lifting tables. An important aspect in this position is the correct height of the table and monitor, standing on both legs or alternating legs under load or placing one leg on some footrest. For better involvement and exercise of muscles when standing, our balance LOGS is a great helper.
Sit stand – perch – is a position that is not as demanding as standing and is therefore a great relaxing alternative
Sit astride – just such a saddle seat naturally encourages us to take the correct posture of muscle tone to the letter “S” and not to lean back
Kneeling – is an alternative to a rectangular seat, while the support of the knees can provide a relief position for the spine
Sitting on the ground and sitting on heels – these are natural working and relief positions for a person. In the Orient and Asia, such sitting is still a part of life. A simple and quick solution to incorporate these positions into our daily activities is to create a space with carpets or mats, which will create a comfortable place to sit.
Squat – is a natural position for children, but with increasing age (sitting on a chair for many years) we lose the ability to stay in this position. Squat can induce a feeling of thermal comfort in a person, just as we can produce and especially retain more heat in the embryonic position. During squatting, thanks to the natural curvature and gravity, our spine stretches and relaxes. A suitable aid for re-learning the squat and staying in this position are our barefu balance LOGS.
Rectangular sittingwith and without backrest – according to some theories, leaning causes atrophy of the back muscles, which then cannot work without the support. Therefore, it is too exhausting for most people to sit longer in a chair without a backrest. On a chair with a backrest, the back collapses after a while, while the spine forms the letter “C”. Rectangular sitting has various variants that affect the overall posture.
Static rectangular sitting – is clearly one of the worst types of sitting and unfortunately it is the most common type of sitting in schools and office environments. It is the discomfort of sitting that can reduce the effectiveness of education.
Active / Dynamic sitting – the possibility to freely change the body positions or the possibility to take other positions within the whole space makes most sense in schools but unfortunately it is allowed mostly only in alternative schools (Montessori, Waldorf, Dalton …). There are many possibilities within dynamic seating – sloping seating, movable seat part, the possibility of rocking, using footrest, various types of backrests, sitting astride … Any active sitting should be replaced with a resting position after some time.
Relaxing / passive seating – ideal are loungers which will provide relaxation in neutral position (it’s like a semi-sitting in a horizontal position)
Half lying position – it is a leaning on one hand and in this position you can work or read for a short time
Lying – even within lying, one can take various relief positions – with supported legs, on the side, on the abdomen, with a twisted spine on 4 limbs …
The most important aspect of all positions is the fact that we should stay in them only for a limited time! Loyalty in the case of body position is not the right approach. We should change the position and live with movement!
Project SPACES of the world-famous designer Verner Panton was a real paradise for taking various body positions (the picture shows his installation Visiona II from 1970)
Jader Tolja is an Italian medical doctor and psychotherapist with interest in “body conscious design”. In his research he focuses on the relationship between body, mind, space and movement.
Movement trainers who include movement in daily activities:Petra Fisher
Slovak experts who deal with this topic:
- Professor Veronika Kotradyová from the Institute of Interior and Exhibition Design at STU, who interconnects topics related to the humanization of the microenvironment within the BCD lab.
- Movement trainer Vlado Zlatoš designs movement interiors for schools and also works on active and dynamic offices.
Active at home thanks to the environment
It is clear that we need to move and exercise. Nevertheless, we (me and Janči) are not able to incorporate intentional exercise into our stereotype at home. Maybe now you can better understand why we created DOTS, which stimulate the feet without extra time and effort, during natural movement at home. Also, our bicycle enthusiasm is not a sport activity – for us it is a form of traveling and transport from point A to point B.
As part of my doctoral research, I was interested in whether people have the capacity to exercise and move regularly at home. The answer probably won’t surprise you – most do NOT! But this does not excuse us “lazybones”, because there are people who excercise every day. The principle of a stationary bicycle (at the beginning there is excitement about a new device, one uses it for one week and then it becomes a valet stand) was true in our case and therefore it was clear to us that if we want to start moving at home, training aids will not help and we have to change our environment and our behavior.
At the design classes we were taught to take into account ergonomics, determine ideal heights or eliminate steps due to space efficiency. Although I think it has meaning, such “sophisticated” interiors eliminate the need for movement in our lives. For those who stand, move or do any other manual and strenuous work all day, such a home where they can rest is really beneficial. However, many professions are static nowadays. Me as a designer and Janči as an IT guy, we would sit most of the time during a normal working day. That’s why we needed to start moving naturally at home!
Source of images: pinterest.com
Our experience of a household without a couch
Of course, sitting completely on the ground was not our intention. First, we wanted to invent and create balance stools that would bring movement and playfulness to our apartment but at the same time leave more free space. But time was passing, the stools were still only on paper so I got the idea that if we do not have a couch, we will have more motivation to make them. Since we have a Tuli bean bag in the living room, which serves as a good alternative to sitting to watch a movie and a bench on which we can put things, we do not have the need to produce anything else yet.
Our friends were with us on New Year’s Eve. Surprisingly, the place on the ground was the most used – acro yoga, somersaults, handstands, exercises and balancing on LOGS. Janko absolutely liked sitting on the ground and also lying while drawing. Although changing body positions was nice, thermal comfort was not enough. That’s why we put thermal mats under the carpet and it got the feeling of a mat.
Our apartment is not big, but now feel that the living room is more spacious. I started to squat a lot more (even though I have to help myself with LOGS), we started dancing and act the goat more often. At least once a week we do acro yoga, sometimes we bring low stools, or we simply bring a chair.
Unfortunately, this large area did not motivate us to excercise regularly. However, I can honestly say that not having a couch really forces you to look for alternative solutions. And since no alternative solution is as comfortable as a couch, I change positions much more often.
And where do we seat the grandparents? Most likely on a normal chair or bench. On the other hand, when pigs fly we will sit on the ground in a circle together with them alnd the children. Who knows? 🙂
Tips for a natural movement at home
- Get rid of the couch;) or create alternative seats
- Get rid of excess pieces of furniture, the airier the space, the greater the desire to move
- Customs and rituals – do your normal activities in alternative positions (e.g. checking social networks on phone in squat)
- Set an alarm every 15 minutes to change your position
- Walk at least a little every hour, look up from the monitor (no cell phone), start breathing deeper.
- At least once a day make some child activity for 5 minutes – crawl under the table, sit on the countertop, roll on the ground, but most importantly – enjoy life and movement!
- If you have children, go and move with them – invent activities and trails with excercise tasks
What is the goal of barefu?
The aim of barefu is to be a guide in exploring and creating an active and meaningful home. An active environment stimulates the body and mind and contributes to a healthier and happier life. We offer advice, products and services that will lead you to a conscious and responsible transition to an active life This is the key to achieving body movement and proper using of your feet.
About the author:
Hi, I’m Mgr.art. Eva Mazancová, ArtD. . It may seem from all those academic degrees that I paint whole days or even heal paintings but the truth is elsewhere. The translation of my degrees is an interior designer who has done her doctoral research in the field of design. In my research, I combined my passion for barefoot walking and design with respect to humans. Thanks to the support of people from my surrounding, I decided that my barefoot journey does not end with school – and so barefu was created, through which we try to raise awareness of the need for a gradual transition to barefoot, the importance of barefoot walking in everyday life and showing people the power of active and meaningful home. We believe that by our side, this change can be creative, playful, stylish, but especially not demanding any extrra time or energy!
(Apart from barefu, I’m also the mother of 3 little boys, the wife of a great guy, a cyclist and a community activist – so if you find that the articles are added slowly, you’re right – I can’t keep up :D)