Reacquaint yourself with the floor
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on August 26, 2013. Posted with permission.
One of the most advanced yoga poses is sitting on the floor.
Try it for thirty minutes.
If you aren’t used to it, be prepared for pins and needles, tight hips and an awkward hunchback.
Why? People in the west use chairs to prop their bodies. Sitting has become passive. Hip flexors contract, tightening the lower body and constricting the creative energy centers.
As a baby, the floor was your world. You grew from earth to sky.
You don’t need an external structure to feel supported, relaxed and still. You can return to the natural flexibility of your childhood. When you learn to be stable on the ground, to work with gravity, your body is free to explore more reflective and meditative practices.
First rule: Keep your back straight, stacking your bones and chakras.
Begin by practicing Staff Pose.
Sit with your legs long. Use your hands to rotate your thighs inward, and place your palms on the floor beside your hips, fingers forward. Straighten your arms, and stretch your spine. Push your shoulder blades down. You’ll be a capital L. Feel your lower body connected to the grounding earth, and allow its energy to move up your spine to your crown.
Second rule: Your knees should be lower than your hips.
As you sit cross-legged, do your knees lie flat on the floor, or are they lifted? If your knees pop, your hips are tight. Your spine is likely to curve to compensate for this instability, compressing your ribs and diaphragm, impeding the breath’s flow. It’s no wonder sleepiness accompanies slouching.
If your knees are not touching the floor, sit on a bolster or meditation pillow to lift your seat. Don’t be surprised if you need more than one folded blanket or even a meditation bench under you to coax your knees downward and your hips open.
Sitting cross-legged is Sukhasana, easy posture. You can cross your ankles so they are tucked under the legs, or, better yet, widen the angle of your thighs so your feet are directly before you, one in front of the other.
If this is easy for you, try full- or half-Lotus, Padmasana. Your legs are crossed with one or even both feet on the opposite thigh.
Watch television. Eat dinner. Read.
Or, now that the body is alert as well as stable, relaxed and connected earth-to-sky, meditate.
The liberation and manifestation meditation
Download an Insight Timer to your phone, and set it for 30 minutes. Activate the currents of liberation and manifestation as described by Anodea Judith, author of “Wheels of Life.”
As you sit, inhale and imagine rounds of liberating current shooting from the earth, moving through your seat and legs, traveling up the body’s energy centers. This is the nourishing energy of the solid and material. Visualize it becoming lighter as it rises through your body. As this energy leaves your crown as pure light, shift to the downward current of manifestation. As you exhale, pull the light, your intuition, through your crown and down your back. Visualize universal knowledge becoming tangible as it grounds itself into the earth and reality.
After 30 minutes, stand up without using your hands. Practice.