Five Keys to the Art of the Sit
by Tracey Rich
Sitting is at the core of any pranayama or meditation practice. Knowing how to sit comfortably is the bedrock for accessing these practices. Sitting is its own art form and is a pose that can be a tremendous energy cultivator. Knowing how to sit comfortably is a powerful tool that deserves your attention. Pranayama and meditation can be practiced in various poses or environments, and we at White Lotus believe that true meditation is more of a happening than a practice; however sitting is an incredible way to cultivate and mine the gifts of pranayama and meditation.
Elevation: Elevation of the hips and buttocks is a key that makes sitting infinitely more accessible. The higher you lift the more comfortably you sit. Use a cushion or blanket placed just under the curve of your buttocks and slightly under the top of the thighs, not under the whole length of your thighs. What is important is to achieve a pelvic tilt with the sit bones angled slightly back behind you. This will help keep the natural lordotic curve in your lower back.
Retaining the curves of the Spine: Keeping the natural curves of the spine is key in your sitting. Once your legs are crossed comfortably and your weight is distributed equally over you sit bones you will want to center your torso over you hips and align your shoulders over your hips as well. Bring your chin to a level position then draw the angle of your chin down ever so slightly which will help free tension and create better nerve flow at the base of the skull. Do not drop the weight of your head forward.
Triangulation: Accessing your building blocks will greatly assist in your sitting. Structure, form, the shape of your pose, how you occupy space, and even the negative spaces between body parts will contribute to your awareness of sitting. The triangular shape is one of the basic building blocks in geometry and exists within your seated position. Triangles are structurally sound shapes and tuning into these will help support you while you sit. Your crossed legs create a kind of triangle (or square, depending on your hip flexibility) at the base of your pose. The area across your sit bones and hips to your navel create a natural triangulation. Your sacrum, at the base of your spine, is its own triangle. And the area across your shoulders to the crown of your head is another triangle. Even the negative spaces between your arms and your torso when your hands are resting on your thighs create a triangular energetic space. All these areas anchor your sitting pose.
Polarity: Part of keeping your energy activated as you sit is to keep an awareness of the polarity moving thru your body. Staying attentive to the natural flows of upward and downward moving energy will make sitting easier and lighter. This is done in part physically by keeping your legs actively engaged and pressing your sit bones consistently into the earth while equally and gently pressing your head into the space above you. Lifting your breast bone while dropping your tail bone will help keep nerve energy flowing as well. The other part of this energetic equation is keeping focused on all these subtle dynamics simultaneously with the intention that the goal is no loftier than enjoying the pose.
Attention: Attention is a huge part of sitting comfortably. Attention is a huge part of pranayama and meditation. Presence, awareness and quiet vigilance is what keeps your sitting at the active core of your pranayama or meditation practice. Observation and insight can flow freely and perception becomes available.