“But science itself, though extremely useful in other ways and serviceable as a battering ram to smash religion, if not out of existence at least out of shape, was not in my view fit ro tule the domain where faith holds sway.”
Gopi Krishna

Kundalini – The Evolutionary Energy in Man

Sitting in Yoga

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Having a good seated posture is very useful in Yoga. As your practice develops you may find yourself sitting for breathing and meditation practices. In this article we will work our way through a series of sitting variations – starting from a classic seated pose and then progress through more accessible variations. You may use this to find a posture that is relevant for you. How will you know you’ve reached a relevant posture?

  • You should have a strong and stable base – no wobbling around – legs fixed on the floor.
  • You should be able to keep your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
  • You should be able to relax your stomach muscles (if you are using them to hold the posture – the posture is not relevant for you).
  • You should be able to sit comfortably for a duration of 10 to 20 minutes (as a starting point).

One of the key obstacles to choosing a seated posture is a stubborn ego. I’ve seen too many people insist on sitting in postures they cannot hold because they are too stubborn to relax their conceptions of what sitting should be. As a result:

  • They sit in postures that are beyond their capabilities
  • They place unhealthy strain on the spine
  • They are so busy maintaining the  seated posture that they can barely pay attention to the breathing or meditation practice. Choose wisely.
  • Their sitting doesn’t improve

Choose your posture wisely!

The classic sitting pose is called Padmasana – the Lotus pose.  For most beginning practitioners (and many advanced practitioners) this pose is not accessible. If you want to you (though not everybody) can train intensively to make it accessible. People tend to work the ankles and knees when actually the pose is strongly affected by the hip joints.
padmasana
The first variation is releasing one of the legs down to the floor – this is called a half-lotus.

ardvapadmasana

The next variation is releasing the second leg – so that you are sitting cross-legged on the floor. Check that you can both keep your spine erect and have a solid base. If you find your knees are raised high above the floor then keep trying the next variations.

sitting_crosslegged

The next variation includes using a support accessory – sitting blocks. There are sitting blocks made of all kinds of materials and sizes. First make sure that the block is wide enough for you to site comfortably. Then you may find it useful to get two relatively short blocks which you can stack one on top of the other – so you have an option for two positions – one block high and two blocks high.
sittingblock
Another low sitting variation you can try is with a meditation stool. The sitting position is as if you were sitting on your knees – the legs are tucked in below the sitting surface of the stool. The stool takes pressure off the legs & provides better support for the spine.

stool

Last but definitely not least – there is the option to sit on a raised chair. Though this doesn’t have the appeal of the classic Lotus pose it is just as effective if this is where you experience a quality sitting experience.

sitonchair

By choosing a sitting option that is relevant for you, your are creating a positive and spreading affect on your practice. Your breathing and meditation practices will improve and in turn affect your physical-asana practice. This in turn may affect your spine, hips, legs, knees and other muscles – which in time may improve your sitting further.

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