Sukhasana - TINT Yoga

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Sukhasana Easy Pose

    Quick Facts

  • Sanskrit (Original): Sukhāsana
  • Etymology: Comfortable, easy (sukha); pose (āsana)
  • Fun Fact about the pose: The word 'easy' here means 'with ease' – which is not necessarily the opposite of 'difficult'.
  • Asana Type: Restorative, Seated
  • Main length muscle groups: Hip flexors, quadriceps
  • Main strength muscle groups: Spinal extensors and flexors to keep the spine upright
  • Vinyasa Breath: Inhale and exhale possible

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How to Cue the Pose: Step By Step

  • 1 For Sukhasana, start sitting on your mat with the legs extended in front of you. Bend your knees and cross the shins.
  • 2 Slide each foot beneath the opposite knee so that your shins are crossed. Bring the legs as close toward your torso as available to you.
  • 3 Relax the feet so the outer edges rest comfortably on the floor. The inner arches will be just beneath the shin.
  • 4 Focus on a neutral position of the pelvis, i.e. let it tilt neither forward nor backward.
  • 5 Root the tailbone into the ground and lift up through the crown of the head to create length in the entire spine.
  • 6 Roll the shoulders up and back so that the shoulder blades move slightly towards each other.
  • 7 Place your hands in your lap, one inside the other, or on the knees with the palms facing up or down, as you prefer.
  • 8 You can sit in Sukhasana for as long as you want but make sure to change the cross of your legs from time to time or from practice to practice.

Working The Details: Alignment In The Pose

  • Extend the spine and neck: Many practitioners tend to slouch or lean forward when sitting in Easy Pose. This can strain the neck and upper back. Most of us are used to sitting that way all day long in front of the computer, smartphone, or tv. Counter this tendency by lifting the breastbone and consciously moving the shoulders up and back. Also, lift the chin slightly up to lengthen the neck and imagine that a fine thread is pulling the crown of the head up.
  • Observe the natural curve of the spine: While many students have the tendency to slouch and round the back, it is not advisable to move the spine too far in the opposite direction, i.e. to create too much of a backbend. If the spine – especially the lumbar spine – curves inward, let your tailbone sink down toward the floor. This will enable you to tilt the pelvis slightly back so that the lumbar spine is straight. If, on the other hand, the lumbar spine curves outward, tilt the pelvis forward. For some people, this is easier when the hips are higher than the knees. In this case, put a blanket or a block under the buttocks to raise the hips a little bit.
  • Switch legs from time to time: Sitting cross-legged in Sukhasana for a longer period of time can restrict circulation in the legs. As a result, you may experience a feeling of numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation in the legs and feet. This can be avoided if you don’t pull your feet too close toward your pelvis as this will keep the knees from bending too much. Alternatively, consider sitting on some padding to keep the knees from bending excessively. If all that doesn’t help, come out of the pose and shake your legs a little bit, and switch legs when you get back into the pose.

Adapting The Pose Through Modifications

Simplify

  • Sit on a rolled-up blanket, cushion, or yoga block to elevate the hips. If the hips are higher than the knees, it is usually easier to prevent the pelvis from tilting anteriorly and keep it in a neutral position instead.
  • Place some padding under your knees as this will give you more stability and help you feel more grounded in Sukhasana.
  • In Easy Pose, the ankles are in a significant degree of lateral flexion (supination). As this is an unusual position for most of us, it can become quite uncomfortable with time. For some, the outside of the ankles start to hurt as they touch the ground. A remedy for these issues is placing some soft padding (like towel) under the feet.
  • An easier version of Sukhasana would be if you only pulled one foot towards you underneath the opposite shin. Let the other foot loosely rest on the floor in front of the shin so that both feet are in one line. This configuration allows for more space in the hip creases.

Level Up

  • Plug the feet into the opposite knee pit for Siddhasana (Adept’s Pose) or place the backs of the feet on top of the opposite calf for Svastikasana (Auspicious Pose).
  • The ‘top level’ would be Padmasana (Lotus Pose) which is often considered the ultimate yoga meditation pose. In this seated pose, the tops of the feet are placed on the opposite thigh near the hip crease with the soles of the feet facing up.
  • If you’re familiar with the Bandhas, activate Mula Bandha in this pose by pulling the navel in and up to engage the pelvic floor muscles. In yoga tradition, this is said to activate the Root Chakra (Muladhara).

Benefits of Sukhasana

  • As the name Easy Pose suggests, this seated posture can be maintained with ease by many practitioners and is, thus, accessible even to people new to yoga and/or meditation.
  • Sukhasana also is a hip-opening pose and strengthens the back.
  • When the spine is upright, the breath can flow uninterrupted through the body. This is why this pose can be very calming and is, thus, one of the preferred poses used for meditation and breathing exercises (Pranayama).

IS THIS YOU?

You spend more time writing down, crossing out and re-writing your yoga sequence than you actually spend time practicing it?

Make your life easier!

Save time and create

inspiring sequences today!

Whenever I teach a new class, I let the students start sitting in Sukhasana as this is a very good indicator of the openness of the hips of each student.

Doreen

Content Manager at TINT | Passionate Yoga Teacher

FAQ: Common questions about this pose

Indeed, the Sanskrit term sukha means 'easy', but in the sense of 'comfortable' and 'with ease'; not as the opposite of 'difficult'. And this is the goal of this pose: sthira (steadiness) and sukha (ease). It is thus considered a pose that should be maintained comfortably for a longer period of time. Sukhasana is especially suited for this because the hips and legs are placed in a way that supports the spine. The spine can then support the skull and, thus, protect the brain and spinal cord. This sense of support is registered by the nervous system so that it can calm down and turn its attention to practices such as Pranayama or meditation.

In order for the knees to fall to the sides, a lot of external rotation is required in the hip joints. If you’ve ever seen a toddler sitting in this position, you may be astonished how easy this is for them. However, over the course of our lives we are more and more conditioned to sit on chairs with the legs closed. In addition to that, we often slouch and lean forward so that our spinal muscles become weak. Especially when we sit on a chair or couch with a backrest, our nervous system signals our back muscles to relax. When the back is rounded, the pelvis tilts backwards which decreases the range of motion in the hips and knees. As a result, the knees poke up instead of gently falling to the sides. Try elevating your buttocks by sitting on a cushion or block. This allows the pelvis to tilt forward into a neutral position and the knees to lower down.

No, these are two different albeit very similar seated postures. While the feet rest on the floor underneath the opposite shin in Sukhasana, the feet are placed on top of the opposite calf in Padmasana. This makes Lotus Pose a much more difficult pose, which is often not available even to very advanced students. Sukhasana, on the other hand, is available to most beginners – especially when practiced with some kind of support underneath the buttocks, knees or ankles.

Sitting cross-legged in Sukhasana for a longer period of time can restrict circulation in the legs. As a result, you may get the sensation that your legs become numb and start to prickle as if you had pins and needles in the legs and feet. Don't pull your feet too close toward your pelvis as this will keep the knees from bending too much. Alternatively, consider sitting on some padding to keep the knees from bending excessively. If all that doesn’t help, come out of the pose and shake your legs a little bit and switch legs when you get back into the pose.

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