Up With GravitySM Lesson 3 – Using your Center of Gravity when Sitting
In the first two lessons, we learned how to locate your center of gravity when standing, and how to use it as you move about in ways that make your movements lighter and easier. This lesson is about using the center of gravity while sitting – something many of us do for hours at a time.
Learning how to use your center of gravity while sitting is particularly important, because most of us put more harmful pressure on our bodies while seated than we do while standing and walking.
When sitting, the relevant center of gravity is no longer two inches below your navel, because now the weight of your legs doesn’t enter into the picture. What we want to find is your seated center of gravity. The center of gravity for the whole body when standing has been well studied and is known with a high degree of precision. Locating your seated center of gravity will be a little less precise. Nonetheless, it’s possible to locate it closely enough for effective use.
You can find the seated center of gravity by running a finger down your sternum (the flat bony plate in the center of your chest) until you encounter soft tissue. This is where your sternum ends and is fairly close to the seated center of gravity. Its actual location is, of course, deep inside your chest.
If you place one index finger on this spot and run your other index finger around your chest until it reaches your spine at the same height, a line connecting those two fingers passes directly through your seated center of gravity.
Imagine that line extending both forward and backward from your torso with an imaginary tip at each end. This is similar to the tool we used in Lesson 2, but is now being used to direct your seated center of gravity forward and backwards.
Try an experiment with this seated center of gravity arrow. While seated, move back and forth a bit in your usual way, taking note of how easily you’re moving and how much work is needed to move. Now, mentally connect with the arrow and move it forward and backward. As in Lesson 2, did you notice that your body moved more easily?
You may have noticed that, after using the seated center of gravity arrow a few times, you found that you were sitting more comfortably.
These forward and backward movements can be very tiny, but help you release tension and feel more comfortable. You could use them discretely if you’re sitting at a concert, movie, or business business meeting. They can also be extremely useful when you’re forced to sit for long periods of time, such as on a plane.
In the next section of lessons, which will be posted later in September, you’ll take the use of the center of gravity to a new, and far more powerful, level.
This concludes the first group of lessons. As with the earlier lessons, please let me know about your experiences – good, bad – or puzzling!
© 2012 Robert Rickover
Hi Robert, thank you for your wisdom – what about when driving a car? It looks like from your pictures here you don’t use any back rest when you sit. When you drive a car, however, you usually must at least have your lower back making contact with the seat for support, which I would assume raises your CG. Do you recommend any best way to find your CG when driving?
(Would it even benefit with driving? Perhaps to help determine the optimum posture / seat height/length adjustments for longer drives)
Do you recommend making this a habit – to always be conscious of your CG as one goes about his day?
Thank you very much,
Great question Wes. You can certainly use the back rest and that doesn’t really change the seated CG significantly. I use it all the time when driving. (You might want to listen to some of the podcasts that deal with what will be in the third collection of written lessons – combing CG lifting with negative AT directions)
As far as making it a habit, I’d go easy on yourself – a few times a day or so at first. Soon, you’ll probably find yourself using it more frequently.
Thank you for these lessons. I have been researching the AT to see if I can align my posture and avoid pay in lower back. I have one shoulder a bit higher than the other and one hip is more developed than the other I sit squint and have slightly rounded shoulders, all things I want to correct.
I followed your lessons and did find them helpful and easy to understand so I am grateful as I cannot afford to go to a practitioner even if I could find one here in Greece and who spoke English. I have send your link to my Mother as she is having problems with her balance at 87 years.
I’m glad they have helped you Elaine. Stay tuned for more, even more powerful, exercises coming soon.
Hi Robert, These are real nice straight-forward image exercises. I had no difficulty understanding or executing any of them. I have been playing with shifting the two locations of “center of gravity” to find where that point might tend to be for each of my type-specific imagery types.
I don’t think that calling these points the “center of gravity” provides a complete or totally accurate description of what the points are. They might also be the “center of tensegrity,” meaning there is more involved than just hypothetical or even proven weight centers. To focus on any part of the body generally brings a bit of tension (not necessarily bad tension) to that spot. Where you think of something tends to tone it up temporarily. I think a bit of toning of the ventral surface takes place when we imagine our “center of gravity.”
Thanks, I’ll send some people this way if I can.
Thanks for your comments John. I’d be interested in reading more about your point: “I don’t think that calling these points the “center of gravity” provides a complete or totally accurate description of what the points are.”
Certainly the points may be more than just center of gravity, but from everything I know, they definitely are that.
I’ll be interested in your take on the next set of lessons, coming soon, in which a lot more tension will be brought to bear on the center of gravity area.
Robert, I am finding trouble with the term “center of gravity” because I do not suspect it is a well defined as regards people. Does it mean center of weight distribution? I know that I have more weight above the center you describe than below. It is therefore a “center” in some other sense.
The lower center of gravity that you describe seems to be the lower dan t’ien that is a focal point of mediations in t’ai chi and qigong. As focal points in these meditations, they promote “concentration” of mind (and the ventral surface) in that area. In that sense, it is a different sort of “center of gravity” of the body, one that is independent of our presence on an earth with its gravity.
So, I see your exercises as more another discovery of the appropriate relationship of the dorsal to the ventral surface (and a valuable one, because of its simplicity).
It might seem like I’m splitting hairs with your good work here… the exercises are great… but I don’t want to see the wrong explanation go with its effects.
Linked here is a note and exercise that I posted on my Posture Release Imagery Facebook page a year and a half ago on two kinds of dorsal-ventral relationships … one I called Tai Chi body and the other “standing tall” body (which seems more AT-style to me). I was not as precise as your pinpointing of the “center of gravity” is, but in general, the concentration of the ventral surfaces comes close to your “center of gravity,” with the one which I call “standing tall” (the AT-style) points of concentration coming quite close to your concept of center of gravity.
Thanks for the invitation to chat.
The center of gravity is indeed the same as the dan t’ien point.
The center of gravity of humans has been well documented and means the same as the center of gravity for any object. It reflects not just the amount of weight, say, above and below it, but it’s distribution – the weight further away has a bigger effect on its location than weight nearby. The effect of weight on the CG is proportional to the square of the distance away from the CG.
The CG is the point at which gravity operates on the object, or in this case, the person – it’s what gravity “sees” when it sees you at any moment of time.
BTW, the center of gravity can be outside your body at times – see the video at https://www.upwithgravity.net/gravity/
You make good points here. I guess I am only trying to suggest that another thing may be going on, as well, when a person imagines points within their body (or within their body then moving away from it). Within the body is mainly the domain of the ventral surface and focus on the points become focus on the ventral surface. But that is a bit complex to bring up here.
Thanks and good work.
this is a perfect route in FM technique , once identified the bad center of gravity.
the idea of locating the,
sitting centre of gravity and standing centre of gravity is very useful to use.
But, I think seperating the ‘sitting centre of gravity ‘ and ‘standing centre of gravity ‘ as seperate entities not makes sense.
And i believe thinking BOTH centre of gravities at a time ,one after the other all together in sit,stand activities gives a perfect reliable sense.
What you think?
Certainly in moving from sitting to standing, it’s useful to start with the seated center of gravity and then shift to the overall one.
And, yes, it can make sense to use both once you’ve become familiar with using them separately.
Robert, whenever I’ve remembered to be aware of this center of gravity point (several times since reading your three lessons yesterday), everything shifts a bit for me, and I come into better balance. Such a simple idea, and so effective. Thank you! I’ve already used it to good effect with a student, who also liked the idea.
Thank you very much indeed for these Up With Gravity 3 lessons, I found them so helpful and will definitely be introducing these to my clients during AT lessons. Another way of expanding awareness and applying constructive thought to our movements. Very much looking forward to further episodes!
Hi Robert – thanks so much for this fascinating and useful series. N°3 is specially interesting, using the different seated CG. In N°2, as many people tend to be dragged forward and down by their pelvis (cowboy, model or just lazy walking), I think it’s important to make sure you “carry” the line/arrow/circle, and not let it “drag” you. Walking backwards directing the CG helps with this, I find. Looking forward to future episodes!