How to Get Comfortable Sitting Cross Legged

Easy pose is anything but easy for many

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

For many yoga beginners, sitting cross-legged in easy pose (sukhasana) is anything but easy. It's such a common problem, it even makes various lists of bad yoga poses.

One typical person who has trouble with this pose is a tall man who says his knees end up well above his hips when he tries to sit in this position. He ends up wondering if he is just flexibility-impaired and will never be able to achieve the best pose, or whether there are stretches he could to be able to sit up straight easily while maintaining a proper cross-legged position.

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. 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.

Use Props for Cross-Legged Easy Pose

Sit up on a blanket, two blankets, a block, a bolster, or 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. Sit on your padding in a cross-legged position and shift the flesh of your butt to each side with your hands so that your sit bones have a firm foundation. Lean back and forth and side to side a few times to ensure that your shoulders are stacked directly over your hips.

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.

You can position your feet in several different ways, any of which may be more comfortable for you. Traditionally, you tuck each foot under the opposite shin. But you could instead bring one heel in towards your groin, with the other foot resting on the floor in front of you and the heels in line, bringing your legs a little wider. Or, you could settle one foot in your lap.

Practice Your Cross-Legged Pose

"Practice and all is coming." Commit yourself to a consistent yoga home practice and come into this troublesome cross-legged position regularly.

You can 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. Adjust the time to your level of discomfort. While it is good to sit for longer, you don't have to suffer while you are doing it. Luckily, there are some ways to make yourself more comfortable as your body opens up (taking its own sweet time, of course).