Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column: How to Get Comfortable Sitting Cross Legged

Man sitting cross-legged, badly in need of a prop under his seat.
For goodness sake, sit on a blanket, mountain man. Hero Images/Getty Images

Dear Aunt Yoga,

I am a tall male who just recently started yoga at home, but I am having difficulty in sitting cross legged. My knees are well above my hips when I try to sit in this position and I've come to the conclusion that I am quite "flexibly impaired." Is there any stretching exercises that you can recommend which I can perform to eventually become more flexible so that I can sit up straight easily while maintaining a proper cross-legged position?

Regards,

J.

Dear J.,

You are definitely not alone in your struggle to get more comfortable sitting cross-legged in what is commonly called, I kid you not, easy pose. It's such a common problem, it even made our list of bad yoga poses! Just about everyone starts yoga in a state of flexibility impairment. You don't need to be flexible to do yoga; yoga will eventually make you more flexible. You are already doing exactly what you need to be doing by committing yourself to a consistent yoga home practice and coming into that troublesome cross-legged position on the regular.

My only suggestion is that you increase the time you spend in the pose, perhaps taking it up to five minutes or so if you can do so without any pain in the knees. If you just died a thousand deaths at the idea of subjecting yourself to even more time in this tortuous position, hold off paying for your funeral plot for just a minute.

Yes, I did suggest that you sit for longer, but I don't want you to suffer while you're doing it. Luckily, there are some ways to make yourself more comfortable as your body opens up (taking its own sweet time, of course).

The following practical advice is brought to you courtesy of two of yoga's most influential modern teachers, B.K.S. Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, respectively:

  • For goodness sake, sit up on a blanket, two blankets, a block, a bolster, whatever it takes to raise your hips above your knees when in a cross-legged position. Place your prop of choice under your seat but keep your knees on the ground. Remember, it's called easy pose, and it's supposed to feel as comfortable as possible. Raising the hips changes the position of your legs in relation to your pelvis, reducing the stress on your knees and allowing you to sit up straighter. When your spine is brought into better alignment  it becomes for you to stay in this position long enough to begin to feel its benefits and see real change.
  • Practice, and all is coming.

Namaste,

Aunt Yoga

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