In my previous post I wrote about how some yoga poses can offset the limitations imposed on our bodies through too much sitting. If we spend too much time at a desk, in a car, watching TV, or in my case watching TV while writing blog posts, sitting on the floor for any length of time can really be quite tricky. Sukhasana, the classic cross-legged seated yoga pose, translates from Sanskrit as “easy pose”.
But sitting in this classic yoga pose (it may remind you of being at primary school!) for any length of time is actually quite difficult. If you pull your spine to sit up straight you knees will automatically rise and make your base feel less stable. You can sit on a block, which may help keep your spine upright, but it can still be quite a strain to hold for more than a few minutes at a time. It’s uncomfortable, which is no good for meditation (or for watching TV for that matter).
So actually, “easy” pose is a misnomer if ever there was one.
But sitting on the floor is so good for you. It’s how we were designed. Sitting in a cross-legged position on the floor with your spine straight strengthens the lower back and core muscles that allow us to also stand without slouching. Good posture is important for our general health – it helps prevent injuries and reduces the chance of placing needless strain on certain muscles and joints that can lead to wear and tear. All to be avoided, I’m sure you’ll agree.
So, if sitting in the old-school cross-legged style is tricky, what to do?
I like to try an easy version of Siddhasana. This is translated as “perfect pose” or “adept’s pose” (In Yoga, an adept isn’t just a skillful practitioner but an accomplished master who has worked to attain inner freedom – but don’t let that put you off.)
Here’s how you do it:
- Sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Bend your left knee, and bring your left heel as tightly as you can into your groin. Stabilize your left ankle with your left hand.
- Bend your right knee and slide your right heel towards the front of your left ankle.
- That’s good enough for the moment, you can stop right there!
- If you want to try lifting your right foot up onto your left ankle and tucking your little toe side of your right foot between your left thigh and calf, that is absolutely fine but is not necessary.
You can use a half block or a cushion if you want so your hips are levels with you knees and alternate the feet every now and then (one side might be easier than the other). It’s surprising comfortable (or at least less uncomfortable than Sukhasana). Not only that, you’ll feel like a proper yogi.