Easy Pose: Sukhasana

Woman sitting in easy pose on a yoga mat
Easy Pose - Sukhasana. John Freeman/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Sukhasana, also called "easy pose," is the name for any comfortable, cross-legged, seated position, and one of the most basic poses used in yoga practice and meditation. In this case, however, easy doesn't mean the opposite of difficult. It means "with ease." So, sitting in sukhasana is actually sitting any way you can with ease. For some people, using props such as blankets, towels, and yoga blocks (described in detail here) can help you feel as comfortable as possible in this pose.

How to Do Sukhasana

  1. Arrange supportive padding (blanketblock, or bolster) under your sit bones so that your hips will be higher than your knees when you come into the pose.
  2. Come to sit on your padding in a comfortable, cross-legged position. Shift the flesh of your butt to each side with your hands so that your sit bones have a firm foundation.
  3. Lean back and forth and side to side with your torso a few times to make sure that your shoulders are aligned directly over your hips. Slide the shoulder blades down your back so that your shoulders move away from your ears. The crown of your head should rise towards the ceiling.
  4. Your hands can rest in your lap or on the tops of your thighs. Turn your palms up to be receptive or down to feel grounded.
  5. On your inhalations, feel your spine grow long. On your exhalations, root down through your seat.

Tips and Modifications

Sukhasana is a pretty straightforward pose, but it involves several (parts of the body). In order to get the most benefits from the pose, and avoid discomfort and possible injuries, try these tips for fine-tuning the position:

Upper back and neck

Slouching or allowing your chin to jut forward while in easy pose can strain your neck or upper back.

Tips:

  • Lift the breastbone and think in terms of your shoulders broadening away from each other (but not too far back).
  • Draw your chin in toward the front of your neck and imagine the back of your neck being gently pulled upwards.

Lumbar spine

In this position, you may have a tendency to allow your lower back to curve inwards (as in a backbend), or outwards (arching your back). Both can put pressure on the spine.

Tips:

  • If your back is curving inwards, imagine your tailbone sinking down toward the floor. This will allow your pelvis to tilt backwards slightly and the lumbar spine to straighten.
  • If your back is curving outwards, try to gently tilt the pelvic girdle forwards. Putting a blanket or blocks under the buttocks so that the hips are raised a little can, for some people, make it easier to sit with the pelvis tilted forwards sufficiently.

Legs

Sitting in sukhasana can, in some cases, restrict circulation in the legs. This is something to be especially aware of if you already have a condition that compromises circulation, such as varicose veins or edema, or if you are pregnant. (If you are pregnant, always talk to your doctor before doing this pose or any other yoga poses.) Signs of restricted circulation include numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation in the legs and feet.

Tips:

  • Don't pull your feet in too close to your pelvis. Placing them farther away will keep your knees from bending too much. Sitting on some padding can also keep your knees from bending excessively.
  • Don't stay in the position for too long
  • Consider an alternative pose, such as dandasana (staff pose), or Egyptian pose

Hips

If your hips are not that flexible, you may not be able to place your knees close to the ground. This can affect the posture and strain your spine.

Tips:

  • Place yoga blocks or blanket under your buttocks. Placing some padding under your knees can also give you more stability and help you feel more grounded in this position.

Feet and ankles

If the knees are high off the ground this can cause a significant degree of sideways flexion in your ankles, which can be uncomfortable. Or the outside of your ankles may be uncomfortable because they are touching the ground.

Tips:

  • Place soft padding underneath the ankles or use two yoga mats
  • Tuck each foot under the opposite shin in a traditional cross-legged position
  • Bring one heel in towards your groin. The other foot may rest on the floor in front of you so that your heels will line up. This configuration opes your legs a little wider.
  • Settle one foot into your lap

If you take yoga as part of a class, ask your instructor to help you modify this position so that you can get the most out of it and avoid risking injury.

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