There are many sitting poses in Yoga, and I'm going to introduce to you some simple sitting positions that we often start a Yoga class with. These poses are supposed to make you grounded and start focusing on your body for the Yoga class. On these poses, we often practice concentration, meditation or pranayama.
SUKHASANA - EASY SEAT POSE
It's a cross-legged seat with your spine ¨straight¨ - actually, our spine is not straight. It curves in and out in different parts in its neutral position. However, in everyday language we express it as ¨straighten your back¨. But our spine is not and should not be straight.
Sukhasana is quite simple for me and certain people coming from cultures in which sitting on the floor is a habit, for example in Asia. If someone happens to sit mostly on a chair or a couch, and rarely on the floor, this pose may not be easy as it sounds. Problems can be:
- Rounded back,
- Knees are too high from the floor which creates tension for the hips,
- Unusual deep flexion in the knee joints doesn't feel good,
It will be very hard to sit still for several minutes in Sukhasana in these cases (often happen at the same time) when one tries to focus, meditate or practice Pranayama. The longer they sit, the harder it becomes. The body, in this case, prevents one from practicing with the mind. In this case, we need to change the pose or to use Yoga props to support ourselves.
In some cases, changing the way you cross your legs is already a good modification. Try un-cross your legs and also sit on Yoga blocks.
Sitting on blocks is an awesome modification that I always recommend. Even I myself choose this option all the time. In this position, the hips are higher than the knees and therefore your legs can rest on the floor with no tension held at the hips. Blocks also give more space for our back to be straightened and be closer to a neutral spine position. With no tension on hips and low back, we can last longer in Sukhasana and in meditation or pranayama practice in this pose.
The blocks act a role as a lower version of a chair - let's say a stool, for you to sit on. I suggest putting 2 blocks together so that your buttock can be fully supported. Sometimes it's even a harder job trying to balance on one block, isn't it? But maybe if the studio you practice Yoga only provides 1 block then we just take it as 1.
Get more supported with more blocks and a bolster. For some people, it's also painful in the knees trying to sit on the floor cross-legged. Ideally, I would use 4 blocks stacked into 2 columns to sit on, and a thick bolster to support my knees. You can even use 6 blocks or start with a low chair or stool to get used to it. The idea is to get your hips higher so that we can take away the tension on the front of our hips.
The big bolster under the knees will avoid much stress on our knees by filling up the gap between the knees and the floor. This helps not only when your knees are too high off from the floor, but also when there's injuries or pain in the hip or knee joints. The way we build up the props is like a comfortable ¨sofa¨ without a back, so that we are quite comfortable to stay in the pose but we still need to train our back strength to sit up straight.
Moreover, this support is awesome for people who have much in the belly that prevents them from sitting straight. For example pregnant women. If you want it to be even more comfortable, support your ankles on the floor with a blanket.
In my 300h Vinyasa TTC, I did some meditation sessions that last an hour. This way of using 4 blocks and a bolster supported me through the whole practice even though my legs still fell asleep. However, without them, I would have felt pain in my low back and couldn't last so long.