Schoolchildren call it “criss-cross applesauce”. Sukhasana is the simple seated position frequently used at the beginning of class to center.
This pose is comfortable, grounding, centering, and easy enough for most people to be able to draw their attention inward. It can be modified to be made more comfortable for those unable to sit comfortably on the floor.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2:46 – translations of the ancient Sanskrit include “the posture of yoga should be gentle and easy”, “firm and without strain”, or “steady and pleasant”. Many yogis apply this to every asana used in Hatha Yoga, while others contend that this statement is referring only to the meditative posture assumed for hours or days at a time.
Regardless of Patanjali’s original meaning, it is absolutely without question that Sukhasana is meant to be easy!
Benefits of Sukhasana
Comfortable Sukhasana reminds us how to relax. Taking advantage of the intrinsic equilibrium of the spinal cord, Easy Pose forms the solid foundation necessary for a present and meditative mind.
How to practice Sukhasana
- Find a comfortable seated position on your mat, with your legs crossed however you like
- Reach around with your hands, and pull the skin out from under your buttocks to give your back more freedom of movement and comfort
- Roll the tops of your thighs outward to coax the hips open a bit, and allow the sit-bones to ground completely underneath you
- Use a deep inhalation to lift the crown of your head toward the ceiling
- With the exhalation, feel your body ground even more down through the pelvis
- You don’t need your legs to hold you upright, relax them – rock from side to side to release any tension if necessary
- Roll your shoulders up down and back, so your shoulder blades settle like wings down your back as the shoulders draw further away from the ears
Your hands can be any number of places in Sukhasana: resting gently in your lap with the fingertips curled slightly. Resting on your knees to ground you, or palms face-up to receive energy. You can also incorporate Mudras (yogic hand gestures) in Easy Pose.
Many gentle warm-up stretches are based in Sukhasana. If you are creating your own practice, try head and neck rolls, gentle twists or seated cat tucks before you move on to the rest of your practice.
Modifications for Sukhasana
If you have trouble comfortably bringing your knees down while seated on the floor for any reason, try to sit on a stack of blankets or blocks. Rest buttocks & thighs on blankets, with knees travelling toward the mat. as you relax, gravity will guide the knees downward.
This pose can also be done with this stack of blankets against the wall, to add support for lower back muscles.
For senior yoga, or any students who have difficulty sitting down on the floor, this pose can be modified by using a folding chair.
Recommended Breathing Techniques for Sukhasana
Try to stay in Easy Pose for at least seven full breath cycles before moving out of it.
Use this pose to really tune in and listen to your own breath. Try Sama Vritti Pranayama (Equal Movement Breathing Practice). To do this, try to match the duration of the inhales with that of the exhales. So, if your inhale lasts for a count of four, try to make the subsequent exhale last four equal counts.
Pay attention to the sound of the waves of your breath as you relax your belly and lengthen the spine.