It’s called Sukhasana in Sanskrit, which translates into English as easy sitting pose. But for most of us it ain’t easy at all. In fact, before long you might find that your back starts to ache with the effort of sitting up straight, knees starting to protest, and nerve tingling numbness in the feet!
Sitting in ‘easy’ cross legs requires good flexibility in the inner thighs, feet and hips which enables the knees to drop down. The whole posture also involves stretching some of the strongest and biggest muscles in the body.
That’s why I seldom ask students sit cross legged at the start of the class, but instead invite you to gently warm up the body, bringing movement into the joints rather than locking them into static positions when cold.
The beginning of a class is also a time to let go of busy lives and transition into the quiet of the class. By tuning into the breath we can explore how we are feeling, bringing our awareness inwards.
As with any other form of exercise, the safest way to begin is with slow and gentle movement, finding out where your body is tight and stiff and encouraging the muscles to move from flexion to extension. Once you feel warmed up then it’s time to start working harder – whether it be it a strong dynamic flow sequence, or a sitting yoga practice of deep and long stretches.
I believe this approach chimes with two important concepts in classical yoga. Firstly, combing ‘effort’ with ‘ease’ that can also be translated from the Sanskrit as ‘steady’ and ‘joyful’. This means that effort should be followed by easing into release/rest.
Sitting cross legged is an effort-full posture, and better done later on in your practice when you are warm and more flexible. This brings to mind another important concept in yoga known as Ahimsa (non-violence) which includes being kind to yourself.
You can read more about how to sit more comfortably in Sukhasana on the Yoga Journal website
Here is a reminder of some of what we practised this week:
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