If you have been to a yoga class, you have may have heard the following instruction, “find a comfortable seat.” This can be confusing and problematic, if you are not comfortable sitting in a cross legged position on the ground, as a newer practitioner or someone suffering from knee, hip or lower back issues. Sitting on the ground with your knees in your armpits, is not going to be conducive for stretching, breathing or meditating, especially if it is the first pose of the class.
Let’s look at Sukhasana this Sanskrit word translates as “easy, comfortable pose”. The classic pose would be arranged with one ankle crossed in front of the other with the feet flexed, sit bones rooted on the floor, the spine long and the head stacked over the middle of the pelvis.Your sit bones (ischial tuberosity) are the pointy boney bits below your bum that you rest on when sitting.
Forget about what you think this pose “should” look like and let’s get down to making it feel right for your body. If your knees are higher than your hips, you should try a modification because it indicates stress in the hip flexor. To alleviate the stress neatly stack 1,2 or 3 blankets under your sit bones until your hips are higher than your knees. This will alleviate stress on the knees, hips and lower back. If you knee problems are severe, straighten one leg. The important thing is that you have options, so you can stay easefully in a sitting position longer. If you are dealing with knee or back problems that make it hard to get to the floor, then you can simply sit in a chair and find a tall spine.
Once you find the most comfortable seat for you, sit for a few minutes and simply observe your breath. This is an excellent, simple relaxation practice. Ideally, you can allocate a time each day to sit, watch your breath, journal a few lines about how you feel before and after. See what happens.
Ideally, as written in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, every pose you experience in yoga will feel like a steady comfortable seat, “Sukha sthira asanam” Ch. 2.46-2.48