How many times we just want to sit? It is my instinct when looking for solace and rest. I can go anywhere, just sitting comfortably…closing my eyes, going to my place of happiness.
It is time for me to reflect on body movement, specific to yoga. As you may have noticed, I say a lot of things during the class. My intention is dual. One is to walk together through the intricacies of the positions, describing as much as I may perceive for a “full” posture experience (asana). My hope is that (if anyone is listening to my descriptions) by closing their eyes they can internalize the posture; closing the eyes may reduce visual distractions; closing the eyes may enhance other subtle senses in looking inside our bodies, and examine a “real” feel of a position. This practice of mindfulness may avoid unintended injury, and inspire moving meditation.
The second of my intentions is to add an environment that may interrupt my thinking, my mind and intellect, who tend to get easily distracted. I intend (almost always) to place my heart where questions there are points of reflection, moments of attention, and awakening instants of genuine curiosity. Teachings of my guru, research, as well as my personal experience, explain being mindfully engaged makes that moment more effective, even necessary.
And then, there is sitting, including easy cross-leg (sukhasana). We all have the experience of sitting. We sit at work, at home, in the car. But we mostly sit, mindlessly on a chair. We seldom use the ground, and thus missing many valuable benefits.
When we sit I find our sitting bones, the muscles that sustain these, and the effects on the rest of the body, from the ground up. I can then rest the rest. By sitting on the ground, I am looking to open my hips (yes, the hips move, for most of us!) Sitting allows these muscles to widen, inviting the sacrum (fuse vertebrae at the base of column) to become more erect. This position affects my upright back posture, the legs, and some of my core muscles.
As I open my hips my muscles allow my pelvic floor, muscles and organs in the pelvic region, to drop towards the ground, making (more) room. I also allow the top edge of my hip bones, iliac crest (imagine the spaghetti bowl like bone) lifts your back and corrects the slump from the base up; it pushes us up. The muscles of the lower back are supported. The abdominal organs are invited to have more room, mostly the digestive system – that is why it is customary to eat on the ground or cross-legged, in yoga. This also allows my abdominal muscles to become more active and support the gut area (for some), strengthening these (i.e., working towards a 6 pack). Energetically, it brings the grounding energy of the body (ground chakra) to become closer to Mother Earth. This allows our body to feel connected, rested, supported, calm.
Not all of us can sit in sukhasana. We can also add supports or props, or vary the position with extended leg(s). The inner hips muscle/ligaments sometimes are short or tight. We can modify by using folded blankets (or other props) to bring the hips higher, easing the pressure on the back and legs. We can also support the knees by adding support (props) under the thighs or knees to bring legs higher from the sides. Ultimately, we might choose to stretch the legs if the knees are not comfortable. Remembering the intention to find our “seat”, and lengthen the back, regardless of the form.
Finding our seat means, finding our place in the world, and be grounded. It may also aid to raise our back, elevating our mind. We tend to live projecting and “floating” forward or backwards in our lives, rather than finding our grounding place. This posture invites connection to the moment, mindfully. Sitting opens the opportunity to feeling gratitude towards, and embrace from, Mother Earth. It invites me to freely and safely be meditative, focus or intently think of what really is important in my live then. Finding our ground invites the physical and energetic bodies, i.e., spine (nervous system), centers of energy (chakra), to align. It invites me to remain humble, grounded so I may find strength to act, and avoid reacting. It is in finding my “seat” that I find my place in the world. And it is not by chance this place is here. Only from the ground, looking up, I elevate my thoughts towards the Divine, to truly remember who I am, part and parcel of Divine Love, searching to serve.
I hope we all take time to find our best seat to life, regularly.