Sitting and Posture

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  • Genshin
    Member
    • Jan 2013
    • 467

    Sitting and Posture

    Hi Everyone,

    Although I've been sitting on and off for a while, I've never really had any guidance regarding posture or sitting positions from any of the groups I've sat with. I've used the Web and one or two books for advice. I often find myself questioning my posture and find this little nagging thought floating around - am I sitting properly? It's a thought that I find hard to let go.

    I tend to sit either Burmese or Seiza. When sitting Burmese I just can't get my legs to sit parallel to each other as you see in some photos. My legs are just too long. I end up with one leg tucked in with my heel close to my groin. I guess similar to the gentleman in this photo (http://www.insightmeditationcenter.o...or-meditation/).

    Generally I find this comfortable and I get sit for 25 - 30 minutes without discomfort or numbness in the legs. However I can't swap legs. When I do it feels like I'm leaning to one side. Stuffing a Zafu under the knee does not feel correct.

    I find Seiza the most comfortable, either with a bench or two smaller Zafus stacked. But I don't always feel as grounded as when sitting on a cushion.

    I've watched some of the excellent videos from Taigu and Jundo regarding posture and they are of great help.

    Do other people have similar issues? Are there any exercises I can do to loosen up what I assume are inflexible joints? Perhaps I'm missing something?



    Matt
  • Seimyo
    Member
    • Jan 2012
    • 861

    #2
    Hi Matt,
    Sounds like you are doing things right by trying different sitting postures to find what works for you. Sometimes it takes a while before your hips relax enough to get your knees down. There are a couple of books you might find useful for limbering up some of your joints. I'm in the process of reading 'Yoga For Meditators' right now. Another book that I've seen recommended is 'The Hip Series: Kinesthetic Stretches for the Hips and Pelvis'.

    As for your legs going to sleep, I also have this problem. I've tried a few different zafus to remedy this, but no luck so far. I just have to stretch every 30 minutes. Having said that there are some fancier zafu's available that promise better relief from this, but I've never tried them. You can take a look at them below.





    Hope some of this helps. Gassho.

    Seimyo

    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

    Comment

    • Juki
      Member
      • Dec 2012
      • 771

      #3
      I took up Pilates five years ago to strengthen my core and my back because I got back pain while sitting. That worked well, and I liked Pilates so much that I got certified as an instructor. Pilates led me into yoga, which stresses hip flexibility. If you can get your hips to open, you will find that your leg pain disappears. You don't need to take formal classes if you don't want to. Just look online for some abdominal and back strengthening exercise (Pilates) and some yogic hip stretches. I would suggest Pigeon pose and variations thereof every day. Be aware that strengthening the core and obtaining hip flexibility will not happen overnight. Change will be incremental and happen over a long period, usually about a year.

      Gassho
      "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

      Comment

      • Daitetsu
        Member
        • Oct 2012
        • 1145

        #4
        Hi Matt,

        The most important thing is that you find a stable positon that is not too uncomfortable for you. If that is Burmese or Seiza does not matter IMHO.
        You could try Seiza on one of those meditation benches with double legs in the middle so they are no hindrance.
        The position of your knees and feet and their angle in Seiza can also play an important part concerning stability.

        Gassho,

        Timo
        no thing needs to be added

        Comment

        • Nindo

          #5
          Originally posted by MattW
          When sitting Burmese I just can't get my legs to sit parallel to each other as you see in some photos. My legs are just too long. I end up with one leg tucked in with my heel close to my groin.

          Generally I find this comfortable and I get sit for 25 - 30 minutes without discomfort or numbness in the legs. However I can't swap legs.
          Same here, and I cannot swap legs either. Don't worry about it. As Timo said, the main thing is to be stable.
          It's only when you do a week long retreat that you run out of postures - because anything will hurt ...

          Comment

          • Neika
            Member
            • Dec 2008
            • 229

            #6
            I sit Burmese, but with long legs, and not as much hip flexibility as I should have, I have also had similar problems. I found that using a 4 inch pad between the zafu and zabutan put me into a perfect position where I can sit stable, both knees on the mat. Also, I notice that my legs tend to go to sleep easier if I am not careful about sitting far enough forward on the zafu.
            Neika / Ian Adams

            寧 Nei - Peaceful/Courteous
            火 Ka - Fire

            Look for Buddha outside your own mind, and Buddha becomes the devil. --Dogen

            Comment

            • Jishin
              Member
              • Oct 2012
              • 4820

              #7
              I have sciatic and back problems. Also suffer from 'gotta get this right' thing. Seiza is the most comfortable but I try to throw in a little Burmese when I can. If I would just get this thing right I would get it right!

              Comment

              • Jakudo
                Member
                • May 2009
                • 251

                #8
                Hey Matt, I used to be able to sit in the lotus position but was in an accident a few years back and the old legs sometimes wont listen to me any more . Now I sit Burmese and find the same thing as you and Nindo, my left heel is pulled in close to my groin and my right leg somewhat parallel to my zabuton. I have to think if you are sitting 20-30 min without discomfort you are doing something right.
                Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
                Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
                It all begins when we say, “I”. Everything that follows is illusion.
                "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
                寂道

                Comment

                • Taigu
                  Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
                  • Aug 2008
                  • 2710

                  #9
                  I always repeat the same: if you have a few bucks and a good teacher around, go for Alexander Technique lessons, this is the closest thing I know to Dogen s teachings in the Western world, put into body- mind practice.

                  Gassho


                  Taigu

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                  • Genshin
                    Member
                    • Jan 2013
                    • 467

                    #10
                    Thank you all for the advice. Much appreciated.

                    Gasho

                    Matt

                    Comment

                    • Emmet
                      Member
                      • Nov 2011
                      • 296

                      #11
                      am I sitting properly?
                      I tend to sit Burmese...generally I find this comfortable and I get sit for 25 - 30 minutes without discomfort or numbness in the legs.
                      Yes.
                      Are there any exercises I can do to loosen up what I assume are inflexible joints?
                      Yes; zazen.
                      Also, I've found these asanas to be helpful for zazen, having found them recommended in books by Zen teachers I respect. Perhaps you'll find them of value as well.
                      Emmet

                      Comment

                      • Myozan Kodo
                        Friend of Treeleaf
                        • May 2010
                        • 1901

                        #12
                        Hi Matt,
                        Cousin Brad also has some suggestions to help with Zazen. Here ye go:



                        Gassho,
                        Myozan

                        Comment

                        • Mp

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Piobair
                          Yes.

                          Yes; zazen.
                          Also, I've found these asanas to be helpful for zazen, having found them recommended in books by Zen teachers I respect. Perhaps you'll find them of value as well.
                          I agree ... I do yoga and find it has helped a lot in opening the hips and knees ... Also helps get the blood flowing too.

                          Gassho
                          Shingen

                          Comment

                          • jeff_u
                            Member
                            • Jan 2013
                            • 130

                            #14
                            My attempts at full lotus have always been temperamental. Although, I have had a lot of success in the last few months by adding Makko-ho stretches to my morning routine.

                            Comment

                            • Dosho
                              Member
                              • Jun 2008
                              • 5784

                              #15
                              Hey Matt,

                              All the above suggestions are great, but I will add that for overthinkers like me it is often best to let the mind swirl for awhile and not settle on any particular "answer". It will come, trust me.

                              Gassho,
                              Dosho

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