//Sukhasana (soo-KAH-sah-nah): Easy Pose
The translation of sukhasana to “easy pose” is a cruel joke played on us by the Yogis of the past. It is anything but easy: I find it very humbling. I think that it is more accurate to say that this is a posture that we strive to one day, maybe, find ease in through the challenge it offers. This is true of all Yoga positions, but sukhasana is unique in the sense that we will typically hold it for a more extended period of time as we practice breathing exercises and meditation.
Sukhasana requires a significant amount of flexibility in the hamstrings, through the pelvis, and in the inner thighs. These are big, strong muscles that take time to fully release. It is also necessary to relax through the belly and allow for external rotation through the hip joints. Now, it is important to mention the obvious, that anatomically, we are all built differently. For some of us, our hips are simply not built to sit comfortably or safely in a seated, cross-legged position. If this is you, it’s no big deal and it doesn’t make you any less of a yoga practitioner. We all have limits in our bodies and it is important to respect our boundaries and to let them guide us to a deeper understanding of and compassion for our bodies. There are several other ways to find a seated meditation. If you are at home, you can sit in a chair. In class, you can put yourself in vajrasana, thunderbolt pose, as an alternative.
When coming into sukhasana, have your back in a neutral position. This means that if you were to find yourself up against a wall, three points of your back would be touching the wall: the space in between your hips (sacrum), the space in between your shoulders (thoracic spine), and the back of your head. This means that two spaces on your back will be off the wall: your lower back (lumbar spine) and your neck (cervical spine). If you have tightness through your hips and hamstrings, maintaining an upright spine is going to be a challenge. It is normal to find your lumbar spine collapsing into the wall. If this is the case, use a prop or several props. Sit yourself up on a pillow, a bolster, a blanket, a book, or really anything that can give you a lift and get you into a neutral spine. Not only should your spine be neutral, but you should be comfortable, if you can sit on the ground with a neutral spine, but you are tensing up everywhere in your body to maintain it, then that is a sign that you should be sitting up on a prop. I always sit on a block or a bolster when I come into this position.
Once you have found a neutral spine, notice what is going on with your knees. Your knees should be below the level of your hips. If they are rising up, sit on a prop. It can also be useful to place a rolled-up blanket under each knee. This will allow a deeper sense of relaxation through your inner thighs and hips. If you feel pain in your knees or you have an injury in your knees, choose another seated position mentioned above.
Now that you have found yourself all wrapped up and situated with props, place your hands palms up or down on you knees, whichever feels most natural. Close your eyes, and begin to discover the mysteries within.