Holy moly, there’s a whole lot of sitting going on. Like 110 of you in The Challenge! Congratulations on stepping up! (And if you aren’t signed up, get in by April 15th to get weekly support and guided meditations…and the profound benefits of this practice.)
One of the most common obstacles I hear about starting a meditation practice is, “But I can’t sit like that!”
Your knees or hips or back might not agree with you trying lotus pose on the wood floor.
But please hear this: The quality and benefit of meditation have no relation to what you are sitting on or the posture you choose. In fact, if you are positioned in a way that doesn’t allow for relative ease in the joints and the natural alignment of the spine — which inhibits your breathing — your physical and mental systems will be compromised and the benefits may not be as great. Meditation is not about struggling with your body. There’s no “winning” here.
So let’s look at a few sitting ideas and other tips that might help make the body happy and increase our odds of actually sitting!
Sitting On A Chair
Something firm is best — a dining chair, a folding chair.
Notice that you will sit on the front edge of the seat –not all the way back and not leaning onto the back of the chair.
Position your feet flat on the floor under the knees, both hip width. Make the thighs parallel to the ground or the hips a little higher, which might mean lifting your seat with a firm blanket or lifting the feet by standing on books.
Do a couple of seated cat/cow rocks, tipping your pelvis forward and back and feeling the front and back of your sitting bones. Then from the forward rock position, draw the sides of the low belly into the body and pull the tail straight down, leaning back until your spine is upright and you are on top of those sitting bones.
Keep the chest and the back broad. No need to squeeze or pull or do anything weird to the shoulders. Let the hands rest on the thighs (or a pillow! See below!). Neck long.
As you might guess, even if you were further back in the chair, this is ideally how we would sit to eat, work or read. Over time your back muscles will get stronger and it will be easier to sit in alignment.
Sitting On The Couch
Because this is a squishier surface, it needs more propping.
This picture is of crossed legs, but you can sit with your feet on the floor like above. Just make sure there’s enough lift under your seat and the lower back is not rounding. I like to shimmy my tail as far back in the crevasse as possible and then find the sides of the low belly.
The couch option is nice because it can give a little back support. However, this is not an invitation to lean back and go slack. Use the support (pillow or folded towel) at the lower back and keep lifting through the crown of the head. All other instructions for Sitting On A Chair apply. Also, see the support notes below.
Sitting On The Floor With Support
What I really want to show here is the amount of propping.
Pillows (multiple) under seat, pillows under knees, back supported by couch, chair or wall (again, don’t lean back — snug your sitting bones back back back so your hips are underneath you).
And my favorite, pillow in the lap to support the weight of the arms, taking pressure off upper back and neck. This one trick has made my sitting posture a millions times more comfortable.
Sometimes Hero Pose on the shins is easier than crossed legs. Often, the higher the better for either posture.
Side note: I went away this weekend and forgot all my yogastuff
. Even though it’s great to have the official accouterments, obviously, you don’t need them. Bed and couch pillows, couch cushions, an ottoman, a stack of books, a robe tie…many things can be used as props.
At the end of the day, even if your seat isn’t perfect (what’s that, anyway?), if you’re sitting, that’s GREAT. We start small, make achievable, realistic goals, acknowledge our efforts, and do it again the next day. It’s not sexy, friends…it’s Yoga.
Let me know how it goes
P.S. Yes, these are totally home-grown pictures of a mostly-willing non-meditator. So if he can, let’s all sit down!