Don’t Let Pain Keep You From Meditating!
We agonize over many of life’s experiences and physical discomforts, so we decide to dedicate ourselves to the practice of mediation to then discover that to0 has obstacles. Sitting improperly supported shouldn’t be a contributing factor! This blog is intended to address why so many practitioners struggle to find comfort in “Easy Pose”. For some there is nothing easy about it, the knees are so far up away from the earth, it’s nearly an impossible mission to settle into a tranquil/mindful practice due to the nagging bodily sensations dominating the mind. For those who experience this, read on. Knowing how to properly support your body will invite in the harmony you seek.
When the legs rest comfortably against the earth, the leg bones settle comfortably into the hip joint while allowing the spine to maintain a relaxed/neutral position, to do this the pelvic floor needs to be lifted to the right height for your structural design. Those who’s hips and back are very open and flexible a lift may not be needed however, a little padding under the sits bones is helpful. Those who’s hips or back are tight, curved or injured, a lift is required. Not properly supporting the body, even during the five minutes your yoga instructor spends creating the mood/intention for class leads to further tightening the hips and back. Think of it this way; Easy Pose is just that a pose, if you sit for five minutes listening intently to the lesson provided while ignoring what your body is telling you, your joints are further compromised. The joints will naturally protect themselves by tightening the muscles to hold the weight presented to that joint. You want your joints to relax and open, so proper support should be your number one priority. You are in yoga class to open up your body right, so why start out a class compromising your mission! Whether you are setting yourself up for a yoga class or a meditation retreat, your first priority should be properly supporting yourself.
Okay, so how does one discover what height prop or cushion works best? Easy, you collect some books and magazines from around the home, get yourself a ruler and a spot on the floor to determine how high up do I need to stack books to raise my pelvic floor (your butt) away from the earth to achieve serenity, at the very least physical serenity, I can’t guarantee mental serenity that’s up to you! Stack your books and magazines taller than you feel you need to start out with, no one likes adding books, so let’s start tall and work our way down. Sit directly on top of the books stacked, not on the edge, then place the heel one foot against the book (Easy Pose), then place the other foot in front of that one, do not stack them this will throw off the measurement. Note not stacking the feet is just to gauge what height is best, you can stack the feel in Easy Pose during your practices if that pleases you, again this is just to ensure a proper fitting. With the feet properly placed take notice if the spine is forward, back or neutral, neutral being straight up and down, with it’s natural cure of course. If the legs are resting comfortably against the earth, but the spine is moving forward you are too high up, come off the books and remove some of the height and start over, placing the feet and taking another assessment. If your legs are still not rest against the earth, we have one of two issues, your hips are tight so you need to sit higher or your spine is contributing to this experience. If no matter how high up you go, you can not get your legs to settle on the earth, not to worry there are other options besides simply settling into a chair. I will go into great detail on this in another blog for those with very tight hips/back, for now contact me directly for assistance. This process takes time so be patient. As you lower yourself closer to the earth when the body comes into the most relax height, it feels like and exhale, your body simply settles in and you can relax, your the muscles of your body are now properly supported.
Please note sitting too high up is as much a contributor to painful sensations as not sitting high enough. The body will tell you what it needs you to know, pay attention! Some tell me I have pain under my shoulder blade after about 20 minutes of meditation, I respond “you are sitting to high up”. If your hips are very open and you sit too high up that creates a struggle between your open hips and spine. Muscles are constantly working to help you maintain balance, over time muscles fatigue and pain settles in.
Legs falling asleep, this is a pretty common complaint, so what’s going on? For some the nerve ending in the sits bones area (butt) are more sensitive than others, which may require a little extra padding. Another reason for this experience is the foundation from which you sit may not be adequately padded. Not only is the right height cushion/prop important, what you place under your legs is too. Depending on the surface from which you sit, the right zabuton (under pad for legs) is necessary. Expecting our lower extremities to handle the weight of our bodies pressing against really hard surfaces such as hardwood flooring or concrete is typically not going to produce a pleasant sensation, the legs tend to fall asleep in a painful way. Over padding can lend to instability, so finding the midline on enough but not too much padding is an important contributing factor to find comfort and ease in the the seated meditation pose.
I hope this blog has been helpful to you. I have worked with practitioners all over the world. I’ve heard just about every excuse in the book to leave the practice of meditation. Don’t let improper support keep you from this wonderful practice. Understand what your body requires and invest in that, you are after all investing your happiness, why not take the time and ensure your practices are fruitful. It is my honor to serve you. Do not hesitate to contact me directly should have questions or concerns. Namaste! Maria